The Glastonbury festival has long been renowned for its rainy atmosphere and the promise of mud. However the festival may get new branding in line with this year’s expected weather forecast, as the founder of the event, Michael Eavis, begins construction of the country’s largest privately owned solar power farm.
Eavis, who will host the 40th festival at Worthy Farm, Pilton over the weekend, will take advantage of the UK’s feed-in tariff scheme by installing more than 1,100 panels, costing £550,000 and covering 1,500m2. The system will be installed on the roof of the Mootel, the aptly named barn where Eavis’ keeps his cows while the festival is held on his fields.
This installation reinforces the opinion currently circulating the industry that farm buildings will be one of the most commonly used surfaces for PV installations in the UK.
The system is expected to generate approximately 200kW of electricity, providing an annual income from the feed-in tariff as well as reducing his own energy bills, meaning that the system could pay for itself in six years.
"I've been planning this for a long time but the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has brought home just how urgent it is that we move to renewable electricity. We have already bought all the recycled fat from chip shops that we can find to run the generators during the festival and we wanted to create a permanent source of renewable energy. It makes sense to use some of the massive amount of free energy that comes from the sun," Eavis told The Times.
The idea for the design of the barn roof to face south was thought up by Eavis himself while reinforced girders were installed to support the 22.5 tons of panels. Construction of the solar array will begin in August, and Eavis is already planning to seek permission for a similar-sized array on another building. "We will benefit from this. But when it starts generating a profit, I will spend all that money on more solar energy, so it will be a good investment for the nation," he said.
A total of £50,000 will be paid out of Eavis’ own pocket, while Triodos Bank, which invests in renewable energy projects, is funding the rest.