Eaton beats the Feed-in Tariff deadline!

Working to very tight timescales to ensure completion before changes to the Feed-In Tariff (FiT) for solar PV installations over 50kW were implemented; Eaton’s Electrical Sector has designed, manufactured and supplied comprehensive turnkey BoS (Balance of System) solutions for major solar energy parks at Howbery Park in Oxfordshire, Wheal Jane in Cornwall and at a farm site in Cambridgeshire. These sites were developed by Lightsource Renewable Energy and funded by Octopus Investments and between them, these new solar parks have a total generating capacity of 7.2MWp.

On all of these prestigious projects, Eaton worked closely with engineering and project management teams from Solarcentury, one of the UK’s most experienced and best respected suppliers of solar energy installations. For each project, Eaton supplied all major items of electrical distribution equipment in the form of fully tested, ready-to-install, custom-manufactured solutions specially developed to meet the specific project requirements.

Howbery Park is the UK’s first solar powered business park and the new 3,000 panel solar PV installation is expected to provide more than one quarter of the park’s energy requirements, resulting in a reduction in CO2 emissions of at least 350 tonnes per year. Eaton supplied all of the LV distribution equipment for this project, which included 12 distribution boards customised for PV applications and a 1,250A switchboard with integrated G59 protection, as well as generation/import energy metering and provision for remote operation functionality.

As part of the same project, Eaton also built a customised extension panel and modified an existing LV feeder pillar to accept a feed from the solar installation. Despite its complexity, all of the work was completed on very short lead times to ensure that the installation would be operational in advance of the changes to the FiT.

Wheal Jane is a former tin mine, which has now been transformed by the installation of 5,600 PV panels that will supply electricity for 400 homes, saving over 737 tonnes of CO2 emissions in a year. For this project, Eaton supplied a complete containerised substation incorporating a 1.5MVA transformer. The substation is fed with 600V dc from the solar array at one end and delivers an 11kV ac supply synchronised with the grid at the other. In order to meet the very compressed timescales needed to beat the FIT deadline, Eaton adopted flexible working practices, which included continually refining the design as work progressed.

The Wheal Jane substation includes equipment from almost every product group offered by Eaton’s Electrical Sector. Among the major items are a dc junction box based on the Modan switchgear system, Memshield 3 sub-distribution systems, a 3,200A Memform LV switchboard, and an 11kV Xiria ring main unit with integral G59 protection. Eaton also supplied a 6kVA UPS to support critical systems, as well as motor protection and switching equipment.

The most recently completed of the three projects, the farm site, is also the largest – it covers 15 hectares and has a total capacity of 5MWp. It will generate enough electricity to supply 1,200 homes and, over the next 25 years, it will cut CO2 emissions by more than 55,000 tonnes. The equipment supplied by Eaton comprises four containerised package substations interlinked with an 11kV ring main. The substations are essentially similar to the one at Wheal Jane, but two have 1.5MW transformers while the other two have 1MW transformers.

All three of the solar energy parks were successfully commissioned ahead of the FIT change deadline and all are now supplying power to the grid, demonstrating convincingly that Eaton’s Electrical Sector not only has the right equipment but also the right expertise to provide fast deliveries on efficient and cost-effective equipment for the hugely important renewable energy market.