AZUR SOLAR has installed the largest, self-funded roof-mounted solar photovoltaic system in the UK for Ethical retailer The Body Shop – just days before the effects of the fast-track feed-in tariff review set in. At 883kW the 6,355 square meter installation consists of 3,840 AZUR SOLAR 2P panels and is situated at the Company's head office site in Watersmead, Sussex.

Paul McGreevy, The Body Shop International Director of Values said, “The Body Shop has always pioneered in environmental initiatives, and we are delighted to be able to continue our commitments to protecting the environment.

“We had already made a commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% in our offices by 2015, and the Government FiT initiative has helped us to significantly invest in alternative energy generation, reduce our dependency on the grid and move closer to meeting our goals.”

“The typical contracting process, particularly for such a large solution normally takes around three months to reach the signature stage,” explained Robert Markus Feldmann, Managing Director for AZUR SOLAR Systems.  “However we condensed the whole process, including installation into less than three months, even with the additional scrutiny required to meet the extremely rigorous ethical standards and code of conduct of The Body Shop International.

“Whilst price and a sound solution were contributing factors, more importantly being an established, reliable and family based business and our ability to prove that we actively manage every aspect of the solar supply chain from initial design and manufacture through to after sales service to an exacting standard was equally important in AZUR SOLAR being awarded this prestigious contract. The economic and environmental benefits of solar PV are already well appreciated, but we still had to prove that our product not only ticked all the boxes but that we could also pull out all the stops on this installation.”

Another key factor in The Body Shop's decision to go with AZUR SOLAR was its unique 2P coated modules.  While that have a slightly higher entry price, they are virtually free of degradation and produce up to 15% more lifetime power.

The panels, which took nine weeks to install, are expected to generate approximately 900,000kWh of electricity a year, which covers 25% of the site’s energy use. The project was made possible with self-funded investment of £2.8 million, which will be paid back in seven to eight years thanks to the higher feed-in tariff rates, which are due to be cut on Monday.

McGreevy commented that while he understands the need to prevent commercial exploitation of the feed-in tariffs, the company is disappointed that large, self-funded installations like that of The Body Shop are now reduced considerably in size, postponed or abandoned due to the increased investment.

“We hope that Government will review again and extend the current tariff, or at least consider different methodologies to assess the installations to make it more viable as it will be instrumental in reducing the price of solar panels, making it more affordable to more organisations and further encouraging local electricity generation,” he explained.

“Solar is definitely the energy of the future when it comes to clean, efficient, economic and ecologically sustainable energy production,” concluded Feldmann.  “The earth receives enough energy from the sun in just one hour to meet the global electricity needs for a whole year and modern solar panels only require daylight in order to generate clean electricity.  AZUR SOLAR produces a technologically advanced, quality product at an affordable price, which delivers real savings for end user customers.”