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Renewable Energy enhances Sumburgh Head’s energy efficiency

Photo Voltaic Panels Photo Voltaic Panels Zoom Solar photo voltaic panels at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve are being used as part of a wider scheme, including geo-thermal ground source heating, to enhance the sustainability of the visitor attraction and lighthouse buildings. The success of this technology can be seen from the results of the first few months of electricity generation.

The installation of three banks of panels was designed to follow the contours of the existing site. The first consideration was the location of Sumburgh Head, which is a very exposed site, and subject to extremely high winds. It was therefore important to keep the panels as close to the ground as possible, to reduce both their profile and the subsequent wind loading. Secondly, it was important that the panels had a minimal visual impact on the area, as the lighthouse is a Listed Building and an RSPB nature reserve. The panels emit no sound and have no moving parts, and have blended into the landscape well.

Sumburgh Head has an historic tradition of being a location where modern power and communication technologies have been pioneered, including the Stevenson built Lighthouse and the radar system used during World War II. Utilising the more modern technology of solar power to make the operation of the buildings more energy efficient also compliments the ethos of managing organisation, Shetland Amenity Trust, which seeks to protect and enhance Shetland’s natural and cultural heritage.

Installation engineers Nodri Ltd, visited Sumburgh Head at the end of September, four months after installation, and noted that the equipment had generated over 4,800 units. Assuming a cost of 15p per unit, this has saved approximately £720 in electricity costs to date. The installation will also generate income through the Government’s Feed-In Tariff scheme, which pays for every unit of electricity produced, providing an ongoing cost-saving mechanism and further reducing energy consumption from the National Grid.

Ewen Adamson, of Nordri Ltd, said “The Educational Building within the complex achieved a Building Energy Performance rating of Excellent – it is in fact carbon neutral. The solar panel installation played a key part in this fantastic set of results. Nordri are delighted to have worked alongside the Shetland Amenity Trust on this exciting and innovative project.”

Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve was awarded a Shetland Environmental Award in November 2014, in recognition of the projects sustainability, innovation and best practice. The judging panel commented This project has vastly improved the visitor experience at this RSPB nature reserve. The work undertaken has been to a very high standard and showcases both the environmental and historical significance of the site.