North East commercial solar and battery storage installer AR Power recently completed a large rooftop panel installation for a County Durham FE college as part of a £4m capital investment programme.

The Washington-based company, which manages a complete turnkey solution from design to installation, was awarded the contract by Bishop Auckland College following a competitive tender.

From the 2021/22 academic year, the college chose to redouble its commitment to addressing the climate emergency agenda and used the Climate Action Roadmap for Further Education Colleges as a route towards achieving Net Zero emissions.

All operations were reviewed to help achieve the initial target of a 15% reduction in the college’s carbon footprint by 2025. Having carried out an independent energy and carbon report to identify the size of their footprint, the college decided to look at and implement measures to reduce this. Leaders also wanted to reduce their energy costs and reliance on energy from the grid and investigated installing solar panels.

The technical team at AR Power created the overall designs as part of the initial proposal to the college, then their in-house installation team deployed the commercial solar PV system shortly after the college awarded the contract to the company. During the installation, qualified electricians used a boom lift to safely take cables down from the roof to the inverter room, enclosing them with HDG tray and HDG lids for protection.

This was a 253.38kWp SolarEdge system, made up of 618 panels which could generate 227,218 kWh of energy per year. The college expects to consume 86.2% of the energy generated by the panels and benefit from sending the remainder back to the grid.

An independent report estimated the college was generating 647,727.81kgs of CO2 per year, however the solar PV system will help reduce this number by 44,383kgs every year massively contributing to helping them achieve their Net Zero targets.

To mitigate against the impact of bird droppings, which can significantly reduce the amount of energy the system can produce if they soil the panels, AR Power also installed an audible bird deterrent system as part of the installation to help combat this. This should also minimise the amount of cleaning needed in the future.

While at the college, AR Power project manager Adam Black met with some of the construction and engineering students where he talked about all things solar including his career from his apprenticeship through to his current position, and how his transferable skills were the most important factor in securing his role.

“We are very mindful of STEM at AR Power, and it is vital that we as a company do everything we can to inspire and engage the students of today, tomorrow, and the future, hopefully bringing the next generation of renewable energy professionals into the industry. Without them, we are unable to continue our work in creating a more sustainable future for everyone.”


“The team were very professional, and we really couldn’t fault anything. There were no disruptions to the day-to-day operations at the college. There were parts of the install that took place outside of college hours, but we were given plenty of notice and the communication via the project manager was excellent. I was kept informed at all stages of the install and I would highly recommend AR Power to anyone looking to install solar.”

Clare Groves, Director of Service Standards and Safeguarding Lead at the college

AR Power has completed hundreds of solar installs to businesses across the UK, from manufacturers, government buildings to universities and public buildings. Clients include Newcastle, Durham and South Tyneside Councils, Dunelm Stores, University of Sunderland, Northumbria University, BHK, Durham University, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, The Metal Drum Company, and many more.

AR Power, the largest and longest-established independent commercial solar installer in North East England, was named ‘Contractor of the Year’ at the National Solar and Storage Live Awards, held in Birmingham last year.

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