One of the North East’s largest rooftop solar pv installations has been installed on a factory unit in Peterlee by a Wearside family run renewable energy business.

Advanced Renewable Power (AR Power) based in Washington is run by husband-and-wife team Mark and Maria Dunville who started the business in 2011 fitting domestic solar installations. The firm has grown year on year and now its main focus is on commercial and industrial systems.

Recently, AR Power installed 11 solar systems at key buildings owned by Newcastle City Council such as swimming pools and other public buildings including the Theatre Royal which had 31 solar panels on its roof equating to 11.625kWp of Solar PV power.

In stark contrast, the new installation at drawer manufacturers BHK (UK) in Peterlee is the firm’s largest project to date and ranks amongst one of the largest rooftop installations in the North East with 2344 panels and a staggering 1.3MW Solar PV power output.

Solar panels convert daylight to DC electricity, then an inverter changes the electricity to AC where it becomes suitable for use. Any unused electricity is either sold back to the grid or stored in battery storage. This system represents huge savings on conventional energy sources allowing larger businesses like BHK (UK) to make considerable savings and help towards a net zero target.

It is estimated that their new solar panel installation will save around £88,000 on energy costs after year one with a potential saving of almost £3m after 25 years. In addition, it is estimated that the firm will make a lifetime saving of 3.8 million kg of Carbon Dioxide.

As well as being good news for energy savings for BHK (UK), the region’s economy has also benefited from the installation. AR Power have managed every aspect of the work from structural reports to commissioning and to do this they have taken on more staff, increased their operational infrastructure and purchased additional vehicles as Operations Director Chris Balmer explains:

“This is a vast project and has taken three months from full site set-up to commissioning. We’ve taken on new staff and now have our own in-house project management team and a new Electrical Manager too. We are also looking to take on more qualified electricians as more work like this comes in.”

And indeed, the firm have more large-scale contracts ongoing and, in the pipeline, including warehousing installation work in Northumberland and industrial complexes on Teesside

Technical Director Mark Dunville said: “From small beginnings in 2011 we have grown exponentially and put the correct infrastructure in place to plan, install and commission huge installations all across the country. We’re one of only a few companies in the North East that can handle a project of this size and we want to pass our expertise onto other large energy users so that they too can benefit from cost savings and use a much greener source of energy.”