Amid all of the uncertainty surrounding the larger solar power installations at present, it is encouraging to hear that a 99.9kWp system has been completed in Oxfordshire. Spanning two barn roofs, John Woolcock’s farm now features integrated solar technology, which has been developed for agricultural buildings by Solarcentury.

By utilising Solarcentury’s integrated solution, the two barn roofs are able to be re-roofed entirely with solar power, removing the need for solar panels to be bolted to the existing roof space. This is a helpful solution not only due to the difficulty in installing solar panels on some roof types, but also in this case, because the panels replaced dated asbestos.

At 54.72 and 45.18kWp in size, the two roofs feature 555 Sharp panels, which cover a total of nearly 700m2 and eight SMA inverters.

Since John managed to complete this system before the feed-in tariff rates are likely to be cut, he is expected to see an annual income and savings in excess of £31,000, meaning the system will pay back its cost in less than eight years. £26,663 will come in from the generation feed-in tariff, £2,012 from exporting electricity while £2,400 will be saved on annual electricity bills.

John Woolcock said, “Solar makes complete economic sense with its 8% return on investment, farmers know this now. But why would you want to bolt solar panels onto an old barn when you’re making such a financial commitment – you want something durable and good looking.”

“We’re really pleased to have been able to update our buildings with roofs made entirely from solar, and of course to be the first to do it in this country. There was no need for a structural engineer to look at our roof as the Energy Roof was all pre engineered, in addition, the planning department was happy as the solar wasn’t protruding from the roof. This meant we could go solar with minimal hassle and have a system we’re proud of. ”

John’s local planning department approved the solar on the basis it was the roof itself, stating:

“Providing the solar collection equipment is integral in enabling the replacement roof to provide shelter i.e. it is the roof covering as opposed to being attached on top of the roof by some means, then I can confirm that your proposal is Permitted Development under the provisions of Class A of Part 6 to Schedule 2 of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995.”

Solarcentury’s EnergyRoof solution has been tested to the same European standard as conventional roof coverings, prEN15601.