With an array of over 1,000 electricity-generating solar panels, the UK’s largest solar roof is being installed at Worthy Farm, home of the Glastonbury Festival.
As the man behind the festival, Michael Eavis is not afraid of breaking new ground. Forty years on from the first Glastonbury, the event has grown to become the world’s biggest performing arts festival, and is the inspiration and model for alternative festivals around the globe.
Now, Michael is pioneering the way in UK solar energy. The roof will sit on top of the Mootel – a barn where the dairy farm’s cows spend the festival period. The 1,112 photovoltaic solar panels will cover 1,500 square metres, weigh around 22.5 tonnes and generate 160,000 kilowatt hours a year – the equivalent of the energy used by 40 homes.
The installation is due to be fully operational by the end of the autumn and will cost a total of550,000. The Worthy Farm project is one of the first to benefit from the government’s new feed-in tariff scheme that rewards individuals, businesses and organisations for developing sources of renewable energy generation.
Michael expects the installation to pay back over 45,000 per year, in addition to the savings derived through the farm’s own use – expected to be around 80% of the energy generated. Power will first go to the farm as needed, with any surplus going into the grid.
Michael is putting in 50,000 of his own money to build the solar array, with the rest financed by a loan from Triodos Bank. This is the first major solar installation supported by Triodos in the UK and one of 85 the bank finances internationally. “As we share the same values, Triodos Bank was my first consideration for the loan,” explained Michael.
While the government incentive has made the solar project financially more attractive, this is something Michael has been keen to do for some time to make the festival as green as it can be. “I have been planning to install a solar array for a number of years, and I even prepared the barn roof well in advance,” he said. “It makes sense to forge ahead with the project now that the feed-in tariffs have kicked in.
“We have bought all the recycled fat from chip shops that we can find to run the generators during the festival and we wanted to create a permanent source of renewable energy and use some of the massive amount of free energy that comes from the sun.”
Contact: Glastonbury Festival Office,
28 Northload Street,
Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 9JJ
Telephone: +44 (0)1458 834 596
Glastonbury festival organiser
Michael Eavis. Photo: copyright Jason Bryant