Bedford-based arable farmer Charles Paytner is now benefitting from a 26.125kWp solar system on Yelden Farm’s barn roof, installed by Solar Partner.

After attending the Solar Power UK 2010 conference in London, Paynter recognised the potential solar energy holds and wanted to get involved.

“A few years ago I started to receive regular mailings about renewables which opened my eyes to the potential for farmers. In autumn 2010, I attended a major solar PV conference in London which made up my mind to install something at our farm. A major driver for all of this has been the financial support supplied by the Government’s feed-in tariff scheme which guarantees an income to support the returns and savings from the generated power and make the project viable.

“Initially I was a little apprehensive about whom I was going to get to do the installation: this is a very new industry in the UK and proven track records of reliable installers are hard to find, so I turned to local land agent Robinson & Hall to help with the necessary planning and project set up details. They introduced me to Anthony Muncey from Solar Partner who operates locally and following a successful initial meeting we decided to move the project forward,” explained Paynter.

The farm’s barn roof now hosts 110 Moser Baer panels, rated 235Wp and 240Wp, which will generate electricity to help power two houses, and a working farm which includes a high-energy consumption barn used for grain storage. To maximise the benefits of the PV installation, a 400-metre steel wire armoured (SWA) cable has been installed to carry electricity from the solar-equipped barn to the grain storage barn.

The Yelden farm project took around five months from start to finish. Planning permission was required and the steel-framed barn required reinforcement with additional steel cross bracing and tie beams. The reinforcement work then needed to be approved by structural engineers before the panels could be placed on the roof.

Now complete, it is estimated that the solar array will have an annual output of 22,424kWh, with any surplus energy fed back into the National Grid. The carbon saving will also be significant at 19,821kg each year. 

“Now that the project is complete I am very pleased with the outcome. The potential of the installation is clear when you see the power produced even on fairly overcast days. We have all been greatly amused to see the main farm meter going backwards at the slightest hint of sun! Initial results suggest that we shall be using at least two thirds of the energy we produce and often a lot more thus making considerable savings from ever-increasing energy charges,” concluded Paynter.