Twelve months ago 800 photovoltaic solar panels were installed on nine public buildings in towns across Tipperary. The buildings include fire stations, libraries, civic offices and a leisure centre. At the time this project increased Ireland’s total photovoltaic (PV) capacity by 44 per cent. One year on from Ireland’s largest ever solar photovoltaic installation and Tipperary County Council is making significant savings of €30,000 per annum.
The main difference between photovoltaic panels and solar thermal panels is that PV directly converts the sun’s light into electricity. Solar thermal panels heat hot water from the suns energy. PV systems have some significant advantages over solar water heating systems in that they are easier to design, install, operate and maintain.
The panels on Tipperary’s public buildings are delivering 10 per cent more electricity than previously expected. The payback for the project is now expected to be no more than six and a half years. These solar panels have a lifespan of up to 25 years.
Joe MacGrath, Chief Executive of Tipperary County Council, said the photovoltaic project has delivered more than they had anticipated, not only in electricity and cost savings, but also influencing others to take on similar projects. “We recommend to others that they should actively consider PV as part of their cost, efficiency and sustainability goals,” he said.
Paul Kenny, CEO of Tipperary Energy Agency, who project managed the work said “The increase in the number of organisations that are now installing PV has demonstrated that this Tipperary County Council project has been a catalyst for change.”
Tipperary Energy Agency has been successfully supporting Tipperary to reduce its energy demand for 17 years. Its efforts have resulted in pioneering projects such as Ireland’s only community-operated wind farm in Templederry, Ireland’s first ecovillage in Cloughjordan, and now this photovoltaic project across nine public buildings.