St Austell Printing Company has reached a “major milestone” in its sustainability plans with the installation of an extensive array of solar panels at its premises.
441 panels were installed of the on the roofs of its two-building, 2,800sqm base in Carclaze, Cornwall and will generate 130,000kWh of energy per year, saving the commercial printer the equivalent of around 45 tonnes of carbon annually as a result.
The installation cost St Austell over £100,000 and was carried out in early August during a two-week period by Clean Earth Energy, following a feasibility study from BRE Group, a building science centre and authority on sustainable power.
St Austell expects to recover the cost of the installation within five years, generating free energy from that point on. Any surplus energy will be sold back into the grid to be used by local homes and businesses, the company said.
Operations manager Beth Mayman said: “We moved to these premises five years ago and have been very keen on being environmentally friendly. We have a strong sustainability plan, and this is the last piece of the puzzle – its installation is a major milestone.
“It is about ensuring we are as lean, efficient and sustainable as possible. It feels like the right thing to do, reduces our carbon footprint and means we can add value for customers.
“Our customers will benefit by being able to meet their own environmental targets, as well as benefitting from our ability to invest in technology, people and service rather than in electricity in the future.”
St Austell says the solar array is among the largest in Cornwall.
While the solar panels represent the final major step in the company's plan, further initiatives in motion will include the installation of new LED lighting and electric vehicle charging points.
Purpose-built by St Austell itself, the business park also hosts 18 other local businesses who will eventually benefit from the panel installation when it begins to pay back in five years.
Serving clients such as the Eden Project and Top Trumps, St Austell also makes green efforts in its printing – a £1m investment programme earlier this year saw the installation of a RMGT Ryobi Mitsubishi 9 Series press with LED-UV curing technology, and a Suprasetter 106 platesetter from Heidelberg to produce its plates.
More equipment is expected to be brought onsite across this year and 2019.
In its purpose-built factory, St Austell also makes use of vegetable-based inks, recycles 100% of its paper waste and responsibly sources its supplies. It employs 50 members of staff and currently has a turnover of £3.7m.