The Servite Priory is a registered charity and community house, where people can find refuge and retreat. The house is run by six paid staff and 24 volunteers. Built in the 1880s, the house offers accommodation for 100 people, and is set in a 100-acre estate. Manager Noilin Mullin joined the Servite Priory thirteen years ago and has a vision of turning the Priory into an Energy Valley.
Noilin worked closely with the team at the Western Regional Energy Agency & Network (WREAN) to install the solar panels. A considerable amount of work had to be done to persuade the charity’s directors that it was a worthwhile investment and Noilin had to put together a comprehensive proposal.
Noilin secured funding from the Energy Saving Trust’s grant scheme and from the Northern Ireland Electricity Smart programme (www.niesmart.co.uk).
The Servite Priory appointed J A Graham as their PV installer, who helped with the presentation to the Board of Directors, as well as selecting the most appropriate site for the freestanding 5kW display. The PV array is made up of 32 panels, and took 14 working days to install (including some days lost due to bad weather).
The PV system is connected to monitoring equipment, and the readings are logged on a weekly basis. A display monitor has been installed where users of the Priory can see it. All the electricity generated is used on site.
The local community was kept fully informed before, during and after the installation. “We strongly believe that the community has a say in what happens here at the Priory,” says Noilin. “We hold public meetings to keep them updated and issue a regular newsletter. The response has been very positive.”
“We wanted to have lots of different technologies in one place, to show what’s possible. The community can come and have a look and learn about renewable energy. Students visit us too for school projects. It’s a very visual project,” said Noilin.