Community-Funded Enphase Systems Win Green Award
When Wales’ Egni rallied local residents to equip four community buildings with Enphase systems, it gained more than just clean, green energy: it won a prestigious 2014 Wales Green Energy Award.
Better Performance Optimises Co-op Solar
Egni is a Welsh solar PV co-operative that brings clean electricity and green jobs to the area, while raising awareness on the importance of clean energy. Egni is embedded in the Swansea and Amman Valleys. Its development was supported by a community energy charity, Awel Aman Tawe, whose small staff and active group of volunteers live in the area and are committed to protecting its outstanding environment.
Egni’s main project in 2014 was to install photovoltaic arrays on four public buildings: a school (equipped with a 50kWp system), a community café (4kWp system), a training facility (14.25kWp system), and a community education centre (21kWp system). Community fundraising financed the program in early 2014. In the first five months after commissioning, the nearly 90kWp of solar arrays generated more than 20 MWh of clean energy, offsetting 1.71 tonnes of carbon.
Egni chose Solarfit, a Carmarthenshire-based solar installer, who recommended using Enphase microinverter-based technology rather than a traditional PV system based on string inverters. As a co-operative, Egni gathers lots of people together to invest collectively in renewable energy projects and has to show its choice provided maximum value and a good return to co-op members.
The Enphase M215 Microinverters were chosen primarily for their superior performance: converting DC into AC electricity at single-module level, they maximise the production of each panel and get the most power from the array, delivering a record efficiency.
Safe and Easy to Install
In addition to the excellent performance, the Enphase System was ideal as it provides maximum safety to public buildings. Enphase’s standard AC wiring, and the absence of high-voltage DC power in the array makes microinverters safer than traditional inverters.
Egni was also won over by the Engage Cable, a plug-and-play wiring setup comprised of ruggedised cabling – with pre-installed connectors for the Enphase Microinverters – and accessories unique to Enphase. This made the installations much faster. That was especially important for the school, where work was carried out during the holidays and needed to be completed before term started.
Solar Gives Back to the Community
Enphase’s Enlighten monitoring platform was another major selling point for Egni, as it made the systems’ information easily accessible. A video-display showing the systems’ health, energy production, and environmental benefits in real-time was installed at the entrance of the community cafe, so co-op members can see the impact of their investment on the community and the environment.
“This was a great project for us, and the Green Energy Award valued our efforts despite hurdles thrown in our path”, explained Dan McCallum, Director at Egni. “Enphase’s commitment, dedication, and deep professional know-how really helped bring this co-operative solar power project to life.”