The Rt Hon Caroline Nokes, Member of Parliament for Romsey and Southampton North recently visited Southampton Science Park to see a new renewable power installation at the Chilworth site.

Solar panels have been fitted to the roof of Kenneth Dibben House in a move that will generate 207MWh of electricity and save 50 tonnes of carbon emissions each year. Since connection to the National Grid in late April, the system has already helped eliminate over 10 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the effect of planting 63 trees. The majority of the energy produced will be consumed by resident companies, with any surplus being sold back to the Grid. During her visit, Ms Nokes unveiled a smart monitoring unit which will provide accessible and granular detail on the system’s performance.

Ms Nokes said: “It is really good to be back at Southampton Science Park today – I always find a visit here fascinating and inspiring and today is no exception. I’m also really pleased to see the Park leading on sustainable development in our region through initiatives such as renewable energy and alternative transport provision. This solar installation is certainly impressive, and I understand that it will make a big difference in reducing emissions over the next twenty-five years. I congratulate all involved in the project.”

Kenneth Dibben House, which comprises office and meeting space for a number of high-tech businesses, was revealed to be the prime location on the park, following analysis conducted by Absolar, who are resident at the Park. The company’s founder, Dr Phil Wu, explained: “Our remote survey technology demonstrated that this particular building had the greatest potential for solar generation as well as the shortest payback period. We are now developing a smart monitoring unit which will precisely report on the proportion of renewable energy that has been used by resident companies and how much has been contributed to the National Grid.”

Stuart Perry, Operations Manager at the Science Park, oversaw the works. He reflected: “Although we have been developing the idea for some time as part of our wider sustainability agenda, our first solar panel installation was surprisingly quick, taking just a couple of weeks, despite storm Eunice halting work on the roof for a couple of days! We anticipate extending solar power to other suitable premises, while companies across the Park are also expressing interest in their own installations. I’m excited to see where this momentum leads.”

Hosting the event, Science Park CEO, Dr Robin Chave, said: “It was a great pleasure to welcome Caroline back to the Science Park today. We are grateful for her long-term support for the evolution of our facilities here, especially as we work to quicken the pace of our efforts to minimise our environmental impacts – a topic that I know she cares deeply about.”