Photon Energy breaks new ground
The new 1.175MWp solar photovoltaic (PV) system in the grounds of Christ’s Hospital school in Horsham, W Sussex, is an important milestone for Photon Energy as it is the company’s first large-scale ground mounted installation. The system was handed over at the end of February, 2016.
Photon Energy faced numerous challenges with this project - from connecting to an HV supply and installing a transformer for the first time, to learning about work at ground level and dealing with the related ecological considerations.
Having won the contract in competitive tender, Photon Energy found itself working with an organisation that is eager to become energy efficient, despite the constraints of its historic buildings. Christ’s Hospital was already using an independent high voltage grid connection and owned an 11kV private wire network. The new PV system is expected to meet around 20% of the school’s energy demand.
In response to the requirement for high quality equipment, Photon Energy designed and installed a system comprising 4,272 Trina 275W monocrystalline black framed PV modules and 37 Schneider Optimum inverters with AC and DC surge protection. “This is the first time we have used Schneider inverters and we are seeking a long term relationship with the company because we are impressed with the quality of the products,” said Jonathan Bates, Photon Energy’s Managing Director.
As part of the contract, Photon Energy built a 1km permanent access track to allow access for future site maintenance services. For added security a 2m mesh panel fence was installed around the perimeter of the site with thermal imaging CCTV connected to the school’s security system.
Work on site started with the construction of the access road and routing of underground connection to avoid the school playing fields.
Jenny Palfreyman, Project Manager for the installation said: “The job differed from our usual roof mounted installations because we had to deal with fencing, security, land drainage works, buried cables and providing ongoing access around the site for maintenance purposes. We’d not done any of this before and had to build new relationships with specialist services to achieve this.
Having to set out the site so that everything ended up in the right place was critical and dealing with a very muddy field was quite a contrast to having to get everything up onto a roof. We were also on a strict deadline to finish by the end of February before the Feed-in-Tariff rates were reduced and to vacate the premises before the newts started to breed.”