Bespoke system makes PV possible for Devon manufacturer

50 kW system maintains Air Control Industries' roof strength and provides excellent energy yield

Air Control Industries in Axminster is benefiting from a bespoke 50 kW solar PV array on its factory roof, which is generating significant yields and helping lower its energy bills.


The system, which uses high-quality BenQ Solar panels, was installed at the end of 2013 and has already generated in excess of 40,000 kWh.

Nick Wilson, purchasing manager at Air Control Industries, said: "Solar PV is an obvious choice for us, as it makes perfect financial sense: the payback period is short and we're continually generating free electricity that receives Feed-in Tariff payments. The spin-off is that it's great for our green credentials too."

With a large surface area and suitable geographical location, solar PV appeared at first glance to be a straight forward solution.

However, after Exeter-based SunGift Energy carried out an initial survey and consulted with structural engineers, it was clear that any solution would not only have to generate the maximum amount of electricity using high quality panels, but also maintain the structural integrity of the roof.

To make this possible, SunGift's design team – led by Oliver Grogono – liaised closely with an independent firm of structural engineers and designed a system with sufficient spacing between the rows of panels to ensure that the roof structure wasn't compromised at any time. This enabled SunGift to make the best use of the roof's existing structure, minimise the loading, and provide a system that met Air Control Industries' needs.

"Air Control Industries were also looking for high-quality, reliable parts with exceptional performance," added Oli, "so we specified BenQ Solar 250 kW panels. These European-manufactured premium panels are made by a trusted global manufacturer, which has some of the highest quality-control measures in the industry. This meant that – as with all of the products we use – Air Control Industries could be assured of their reliability. What's more, BenQs are extremely competitively priced, so it was a cost-effective solution that is generating an excellent return on their investment."

Nick Wilson added: "SunGift did an excellent job, and – if the structure of our roof will allow it, with some additional strengthening – we will seriously consider increasing the size of the system to 250 kW."

The system also included three industry-leading Sputnik Engineering SolarMax inverters (the same inverters that SunGift used on the solar PV system it installed at the Met Office in 2012). These Swiss-made inverters are very efficient, meaning that the amount of electricity generated by the PV panels is maximised.

About SunGift Energy

SunGift Energy is a renewable energy specialist that offers a personal design service and tailored systems to meet its customers' exact requirements. It fits a whole range of renewable energy technologies – from solar panels and ground-source heat pumps to biomass boilers and small wind turbines.

Formed in 2005 by owner Gabriel Wondrausch, the friendly Exeter-based company employs 30 members of staff, and was one of the first installers in Devon to be accredited to the government's microgeneration scheme. SunGift Solar is acclaimed by the industry, winning the 2011 and 2009 South West Green Energy Award for Renewable Energy Installer or Supplier of the Year, and finishing runner up in the same category in 2010 and 2012.

Using the highest-quality systems is an important part of SunGift Energy's philosophy, and it constantly strives to use the latest, cutting-edge equipment, combined with the highest standards of workmanship.

For further information contact SunGift Solar on 01392 213912, or visit www.sungiftsolar.co.uk.

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