UK first: Solar energy powers call-centre in Nottingham

A call centre in Nottingham has become the first in the UK to be powered by solar energy, having installed 30KW of solar capacity on its roof.

The company also installed a range of energy efficiency measures to enable the panels to meet the majority of its energy needs by reducing its overall electricity consumption

The company also installed a range of energy efficiency measures to enable the panels to meet the majority of its energy needs by reducing its overall electricity consumption

The 94 installed panels allow Answer-4u, a 24/7 telephone answering service, to be 80% self sufficient for electricity in the summer, and 40% in the winter.

The company also installed a range of energy efficiency measures to enable the panels to meet the majority of its energy needs by reducing its overall electricity consumption.

Overall Savings

Answer-4u has installed automated lights in common areas, replaced the heating system with air source pumps, replaced and insulated the roof to reduce heat losses in line with current building regulations, and double glazed all 80 of its windows.

It has also reduced its electricity consumption by replacing all fluorescent lighting with LED units, reducing electricity usage for lighting by 60% alone. Replacing the 85 workstations has also led to an overall saving of 6.8KW per hour.

As well as eventually meeting 100% of its energy needs in summer, the company plans to be able to sell electricity back to the grid and expects to be able to reinvest £170,000 over 21 years back into the business from the sale of the power.

Vital Funding Stream

"I had become frustrated with the extortionate energy costs of running my own home," Answer-4u managing director Mark Menhennet said. "After a lot of research I got to grips with renewable energy alternatives, notably air source heat pumps. The savings have been fantastic, and I realised that with some careful planning, I could transfer the same principles to my business."

"These reductions and tweaks, when brought together, mean we can power our entire office during daylight hours. I'd urge other businesses to follow suit so they can unlock a vital funding stream and do their bit for the planet at the same time. It is a win-win"

The approach taken by Answer-4u has been backed by recent research as the most efficient way to provide clean energy. Earlier this week edie reported on a study by Stanford University saying that building solar systems into the infrastructure of cities causes the least amount of land-cover change and the lowest environmental impact.

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Reducing energy costs is the primary driver for business managers according to edie’s 2015 energy manager survey. A session at edie's brand new high-level Conference at Sustainability Live 2015 in April will focus on the three main routes to energy cost reduction:  using less, on-site generation and smarter procurement strategies. 

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Lucinda Dann


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