Artistic solar scheme hailed as global icon


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A solar installation has been hailed as one of the world’s best – along with projects at an international airport in India and in the Sahara Desert.

The 175-panel array was installed at the National Trust’s Bodnant Garden in the Conwy Valley by St Asaph-based Carbon Zero Renewables and has now been included in a global top five.

The state-of-the-art panels were arranged o fit the contours of a rocky outcrop above the spill over car park at the popular visitor attraction.

The array generates 50 kilowatts which is used to provide energy for the Pavilion tearoom at the bottom of the main car park and two electric car charging points.

It’s been a big hit with visitors to Bodnant Garden and has also been described as a “work of modern art” by the respected environmental website, Edie.net

The list of the five internationally-renowned solar projects was compiled by green energy experts, Geo, who are based in Cambridge.

The other four finalists included:

  • The world’s largest floating solar farm at the Queen Elizabeth Reservoir in London
  • Cochin International Airport in Kerala, India, which produces all its own energy via a 12 MW solar plant built over the cargo terminal
  • The Sahara Forest Project harnesses solar power to provide fresh water, food and green jobs in what would otherwise be a remote and uninhabitable area of desert
  • A solar farm using 48,000 panels providing power to Walt Disney World in Florida

The Bodnant Garden initiative is part of the National Trust’s drive to reduce their overall energy use by 20 per cent by 2020 and to use renewable technologies to reduce the Trust’s use of carbon based fuels by at least 50 per cent.

National Trust environmental adviser Paul Southall paid tribute to the role of his colleague, Alexander Turrell, in helping to design the array and managing the project.

Paul said: “What we’ve done here is utilised a space that can’t be used for anything else because it’s a rocky outcrop. In pure practical terms we don’t lose any parking spaces and we have also created another reason for people to come here.

“The way the solar panels snake around the landscape is brilliant and the feedback we’ve had from visitors has been remarkable.

“It’s the perfect solution for Bodnant because most of our visitors come when the sun’s out and that’s when we use a lot of our electricity.

“All the electricity generated by this solar array is used on site and it is significantly reducing the carbon footprint of Bodnant Garden.

Carbon Zero boss Gareth Jones was delighted the project had received global recognition.

He said: I’m really happy. It’s a real flagship project for us and it’s great that it’s working in partnership with a prestigious organisation like the National Trust.

“It was a really tricky job and I don’t think there are many companies in the UK that probably could have pulled it off  – my background in civil engineering and my skills are in the solar sector were crucial.

“The response has been phenomenal and people are loving the fact that you can be different with solar. It doesn’t have to be mounted on traditional steel frames in fields, and on rooftops.

“We’ve demonstrated here that, with a forward-thinking client,  you can do something really special.

“This project is unique and one respected environmental website described it as modern art solar.

“Not only does it look beautiful, it’s also highly practical and that’s a great combination. I am really proud of what we’ve achieved.”

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