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Barnsley to lead the way in solar energy

Thu 31st Mar 2011 | Football Stadiums & Facilities

Barnsley Football Club is to become the first in the country to be powered by solar energy.

Work will start next month installing photovoltaic panels on the roofs of two stands and the external wall of the south stand at Oakwell - enough to provide energy for about 140 homes.

Electricity generated will be used within the ground, with any excess being fed back into the National Grid. It's estimated it will save the club about half their electricity bills a year - equivalent to tens of thousands of pounds.

General manager Don Rowing said: "With energy costs spiraling and likely to continue that way it makes business sense to use the large amount of roof surface available to us in order to save the club money and also to reduce our carbon footprint.

"The icing on the cake is that the work is being done by a Barnsley company and that will help the local economy. This just shows what a green place Barnsley is and even though we are the Reds we can go green."

Dodworth-based Solar Europa Limited is due to start work on the project, which is costing more than £1m, on May 9, with completion due in June. The panels on the south and east stands will generate about 0.5 megawatts of electricity.

The cost of the installation will be met by the company, which will recoup any money made selling electricity back to the National Grid via the Feed In Tariff.

David Hawkins, of Solar Europa, said: "I just hope that by doing this we can inspire other football clubs and other businesses to take advantage of the roofs they have. It could be a warehouse or office block roof - it doesn't matter - it all helps cut bills and cut carbon dioxide emissions."

Solar Europa, which manufactures its own solar panels, as well as installing them, receives business support from the Enterprising Barnsley programme.

The Enterprising Barnsley programme offers business support to Barnsley businesses with growth potential. Enterprising Barnsley has attracted £2.89m investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe's support for the region's economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme. Enterprising Barnsley also runs networking events and provides office space throughout the borough.

Adrian Waite, who works for Barnsley Development Agency and Enterprising Barnsley, said: "Barnsley Development Agency provide business support to the football club and we introduced the benefits of solar power to the management team at Oakwell earlier this year.

"To their credit, Don and his staff realised the need to move fast on this opportunity, and a number of Barnsley based companies were invited to complete surveys. We are delighted that Solar Europa, who we also support under the Enterprising Barnsley programme, has been selected for this high profile project."

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