Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham draws solar power

PUBLISHED: 01:16 17 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:08 20 February 2013

Scott Newhouse and James Smith shake on their money saving deal

Scott Newhouse and James Smith shake on their money saving deal

How one leading Yorkshire tourist attraction is working to improve its environmentally friendly credentials

Solar panels covering an area equivalent to half a football pitch are saving thousands of pounds a year at one of South Yorkshires leading tourist attractions.

The 2,155 photovoltaic panels on the roof at the Magna Science Adventure Centre are expected to save 16,000 in electricity bills in the first year alone. And they just represent the beginning of moves to become more sustainable, with plans for wind power and grey-water harvesting in the pipeline.

The solar panels, installed by Rotherham-based WS Systems, cover more than 3,000 square metres on the south-facing roof, making it one of the biggest solar photovoltaic projects ever undertaken in the region.

Scott Newhouse, chief operating officer at WS Systems, said: The project was always going to be challenging because we were working with a building that is over 100 years old, but we overcame all the obstacles.

It makes sense for businesses to use their roof to save money and slowly more and more are turning to solar power to cut their electricity bills.

There are approximately 6,700 photovoltaic installations in Yorkshire and Humber, generating over 20 megawatts of electricity, with just under half the installations in South Yorkshire. Most of them are on houses.

Electricity generated by solar panels can be used by the business or householder and any excess is fed back into the National Grid. Since April 2010 electricity suppliers pay the generator a Feed in Tariff for that electricity. In the first three months of this year that amounted to more than 4.4m across the UK.

But for Magna the former Templeborough steel works transformed into an award-winning visitor attraction in 2001 it is not just saving money that matters.

We will be saving about 92 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, said James Smith, facilities manager at Magna.

But the energy we now lifereceive from the solar panels is just the start of the sustainability plans we have in place. We are working with WS Systems and looking at erecting a 70 metre tall wind turbine near the coach park because we get strong winds down the west side of the building. We also want to introduce grey-water harvesting, where we use rain water that runs off the roof to flush the 96 toilets.

All this means not only could we save electricity and water, but also do our bit to save the planet.

The green credentials of the visitor attraction are a far cry from the days when Magnas site operated as a steelworks which was known locally as Steelos. Then there were six electric arc furnaces housed within the huge building with each melt using 750 million units of electricity enough to power a town the size of Doncaster.

In contrast, the electricity being generated by the solar panels on the roof at Magna could power about 40 average-sized homes.

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