Case study

Local Engineering Firms’ new Facility Supported by Sunderland Low Carbon Demonstration Project

CAD VisualisationCAD Visualisation

Narec Distributed Energy engaged with Life Engineering North East Limited to support them investigate the potential for the development of solar photovoltaics (PV) at their new manufacturing site in Crowther, Washington. The site will be the main base for Life’s operations and processes which include metal fabrication, powder coating and CNC machining.


Outline & objectives

An initial discussion with the client led to the decision to pursue roof mounted solar PV at the new site with a view to this helping lower high energy costs whilst generating a predictable income for the business. By generating electricity via renewable energy, the environmental impact of the site would also be significantly lowered. After a site visit and review of aerial imagery and existing plans for the site, 2 scenarios for PV development were outlined; a 10kWp system and a second system which would utilise the most amount of space on the roof possible for solar PV. The objectives were to investigate each system and provide a report on the feasibility, both financially and practically, of each scenario.


The report-which was issued to the client in June 2015-summarised the financial and practical viability of 2 roof mounted solar PV installations: a 10kWp system (operating under the MCS-Feed in tariff) and a 78kWp system (operating under the ROO-Feed in tariff). Initial cost of each system and forecast maintenance costs of the system based on a 20 year lifespan were calculated. The report summarised how Life would go about installing the systems and once deployed, how they would perform. Irradiance for the postcode of the building was calculated and the annual generation was forecast for the site based on the MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) methodology. Visualisations of each system were also created using CAD software to help the client picture how the deployment would fit in with the surrounding environment. By utilising this software, NDE could forecast how visible each system would be from the ground up and then adjust the position of the solar PV on the roof to optimise generation whilst minimising visibility.


A simple payback model was constructed focusing on a number of key facets: installed cost of each system, when the system would be paid back, how much it would cost to maintain and how much it would profit over the 20 year project lifespan. Alongside this, information from the client allowed NDE to forecast the energy demand of the site. Using this information, grid avoidance was calculated with the savings on electricity drawn from the national grid being incorporated into the model. When the factory was not being used during daylight hours, the export tariff (paid on top of each systems FIT) was also calculated. Life Engineering NE plan to action the deployment of solar PV on site and are looking at deploying their first 10kWp in Q1 2016.

Further information

The Sunderland Low Carbon Energy Demonstration project is a £3.9 million investment in a low carbon social housing project which aims to reduce energy costs and tackle fuel poverty, while also contributing to local and national carbon reduction targets. Narec Distributed Energy are providing fully funded business support, consultancy and training to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Sunderland (including sole traders) to improve their capacity, skills and environmental management. Helping to meet the growing demand for low carbon and renewable energy measures.