Wales welcomes UK's first solar-powered theme park
GreenWood Forest Park in North Wales is set to save over £1m on its energy bills thanks to a newly installed ground-mounted solar array system.
The theme park has invested £150,000 on a 576-panel 150kW system which will reduce the its carbon expenditure by 1,700 tonnes over a 25-year period, powering 80% of the park on a daily basis.
Stephen Bristow, owner and managing director of GreenWood Forest Park, said: “I believe GreenWood Forest Park is the first tourist attraction of its kind to produce the vast majority of its power from renewable sources.
“Many theme parks use huge amounts of electricity and could be doing a good deal more to address the issue of carbon reduction. I am extremely proud of our investment in the new solar array which will provide around 80% of our power needs. We have also always managed to run our business using less than one unit of electricity per visitor per year.”
GreenWood Forest Park, ranked as the fourth-best amusement park in the UK and 20th overall in Europe, has adopted the ethos that that people must put in some effort while simultaneously enjoying themselves. In 2004 the park unveiled a people powered rollercoaster which uses a fraction of the power of conventional rollercoasters.
The new solar array, installed by environmental consultants Perfect Sense Energy, will power a £900,000 water slide, which conserves energy by making people climb to the top rather than be lifted electronically.
Gary Brandwood, managing director of Perfect Sense Energy, said: “Perfect Sense Energy and our partners Gwynedd Renewables and Pioneer Contracting are delighted to have been able to design and install the first solar array of its kind at a UK theme park.
“At certain times, the PV array produces more than double the amount of energy being consumed by the park, with the excess renewable energy being exported on to the grid for other local consumers to use."
As well as powering the park, the new solar array will be used to educate the 146,000 annual visitors about the benefits of using solar power.
Closing the loop-the-loop
GreenWood Forest Park’s foray into the renewable sector represents a potential new market for the UK's renewable energy producers, with small-scale biomass heating currently the only other notable contribution by amusement parks to improve their energy efficiency.
The Lightwater Valley theme park in North Yorkshire, for example, recently installed carbon-neutral biomass boilers which are said to be saving the business £130,000 a year.
Outside of the UK, Legoland Florida became the first theme park to be completely powered by renewables for 24 hours during Earth Day (April 22nd) last year. Since then, the park’s Imagination Zone has been permanently powered by renewables.