In the latter part of 2015, Courtown Adventure & Leisure Centre in Co Wexford looked toward the energy efficient measures available to them in reducing their energy consumption and overall carbon footprint. Courtown Adventure & Leisure Centre is a charitable organisation with a voluntary board of directors who employ a team of professionals to manage the operations on their behalf.
Headed up by General Manager Margaret Quinn, a sub-committee at the Centre is charged with looking after energy and it was the forward thinking of this committee that has highlighted the growth of solar PV here in Ireland.
After identifying the benefits that solar PV could bring to the centre, they set about getting the funding for the project with the help of Wexford County Council. Carlow Kilkenny Energy Agency was appointed to project manage and set about upgrading existing systems and fittings to improve energy efficiency throughout the business. This was achieved through a number of different measures, including a large solar PV installation on the roof of the leisure centre itself by Activ8.
The Adventure & Leisure Centre caters to the local community with three pools, a fitness studio, gym, sauna and steam rooms and the energy sub-committee wanted to introduce energy efficiency measures to reduce the costs. The Centre changed its pool pumps, lighting to LED and upgraded to high efficiency heaters in the saunas alongside the solar panel system.
“We have noticed reductions on the meter already and we can see that our bills have dropped greatly,” said Mateusz Slazyk, Assistant Manager, Courtown Adventure and Leisure Centre. “In the end, it was the perfect solution; we were looking for a low maintenance way to produce green energy and solar PV ticked all the boxes.”
The 197 solar PV panel installation in Courtown is an indication of where the future of energy is heading in Ireland. Solar panel installation continues to grow and this can act as a case in point of how commercially viable solar photovoltaic has become for Irish businesses.
Activ8 Energies was chosen to design and install the project and brought its extensive solar PV experience to the site. The company worked through the half hourly readings along with project managers CKEA (Carlow Kilkenny Energy Agency) to optimise the size and set up of this heavy consumer of electricity.
The centre itself had already taken numerous progressive steps to reduce its consumption over the past year, shaving its peak consumption from an average of 93kVA right down to 71kVA. In line with this great progress, the centre applied for an SEAI grant for the installation of a solar electric system and, with the help of CKEA, was successful in its bid.
An important aspect of the project was to install a low maintenance, high warranty solution. With this in mind Enphase micro inverter technology was installed and is now the largest Enphase micro inverter installation in Ireland. As well as the low maintenance that comes with the technology, the high 20-year warranty and remote monitoring were important factors for Courtown Adventure & Leisure Centre when considering all options.
With this 56kWp solar PV system, Courtown Adventure & Leisure Centre will reduce its energy consumption by over 40,000kWhr’s (units of electricity) on a yearly basis. Due to the utilisation of Enphase micro inverters on the job, this system is guaranteed to continue production of electricity for at least 20 years, which leaves the leisure centre with peace of mind that they have locked in the cost of approx. 800,000kWhr’s. So no matter what price electricity reaches over the next 20 years, Courtown Leisure Centre has secured approximately 40,000units of electricity per year, for the next 20 years at approximately 5 cents.
Commenting on the project, Aidan Marron of Activ8 Energies, said, “Solar PV has really continued to progress over the years and, with warranties, maintenance and production at the top of the agenda on this project we felt Enphase may be the perfect fit.”
The installation consisted of 197 solar panels (generating DC electricity), and 197 micro inverters (converting DC to AC electricity) all mounted on a standing seam mounting system. The installation took four days, with the majority of the heavy lifting completed in just two days.
“With solar PV looking to become a larger part of the Irish lexicon over the next five years, it really is great to see SEAI supporting such a system and Wexford County Council helping a forward thinking business such as Courtown Adventure & Leisure Centre become early adopters of what is sure to become the future of energy in Ireland.”
Through the SEAI and the Better Energy Community Scheme, many business and local community projects have obtained wide reaching energy upgrades including energy reducing measures and green energy production initiatives.
This project was made available to Courtown Adventure & Leisure Centre through this scheme, within the ‘Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme’ under the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport with support from the Wexford County Council.
Jane Wickham, of Carlow Kilkenny Energy Agency (CKEA), explained, “We found Activ8 Solar Energies very knowledgeable and efficient throughout the process, ensuring our client had a comprehensive handover on completion”.
More information on this project can be found in the Gallery section of www. activ8energies.com where you can see live data on the site’s production.