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Caldeira Invests in Solar Energy and Becomes Carbon Negative

by Jonathan Kearney

Caldeira, the Merseyside based cushion company, has invested significantly in a large solar panel array at its new headquarters at 29 Lees Road on the Knowsley Industrial Park.

The company is installing over 1,000 solar panels on its south-facing two-acre roof which will have the capacity to generate over half a megawatt (500KW) of renewable solar energy.

This is considerably more electricity than the company uses in its manufacturing process and this investment is likely to make Caldeira ‘carbon negative’ in 2023.

The excess energy will be sold to tenants within the Caldeira building and if there is still a surplus generated, it will be exported back to the grid to be used by other businesses on the Knowsley Industrial Park.

The solar array will therefore not only make Caldeira carbon negative but will reduce the carbon footprint of the Industrial Park as a whole.

The first 292KW of electricity generation capacity was switched on in early December 2022 with approximately 224KW expected to be added in March 2023.

The company is also exploring the possibility of doubling its renewable solar energy generation as the roof of its headquarters has the capacity to house around 2,300 solar panels.

This ‘maxed-out’ version of the solar array would generate up to 1.2 megawatts of renewable solar electricity generating capacity, which equates to an export potential of up to one megawatt (1MW) of renewable electricity.

According to figures sourced from PV Magazine in the US, in its July 11th 2022 article, as a guide, the first phase of the Caldeira installation would be expected to offset more carbon emissions than 11,000 trees. The ‘maxed out’ version of 1MW of solar capacity at Caldeira could be expected to offset more carbon emissions than 26,000 trees.

Caldeira Managing Director, Tony Caldeira, said: “We are proud that Caldeira has made this investment in renewable energy, and this should make a significant improvement to our business and to the Knowsley Industrial Park.

“We are very lucky in that our building’s longest axis is more or less due-south facing and our roof slopes are between 16 and 30 degrees, conditions which are near-perfect for solar power generation in the UK – even with our weather!

“We also have a dedicated substation and transformer on-site, with a relatively large power capacity, as years ago our site was used to make boilers. This means that our building is not only ideal for making cushions, it is also ideal for making solar energy!

“Over time the investment should be a good one as we have found a potential solution to sell the surplus renewable energy generated to our incoming tenants, with any balance to be sold back to other local businesses via the grid. With the price of energy where it is at the moment, this investment also makes financial sense as well as environmental sense!

“It’s also important that we have been able to help and inspire other local businesses to undertake similar projects and I hope that it won’t be long before having solar panels on large industrial buildings becomes the norm.

“Our customers love what we’re doing too as this investment makes our cushions good for the home and good for the planet!

“This investment makes sense on every level, and I urge other companies to do the same.”

Caldeira selected Environmental Roofing Services Ltd (ERS) to both upgrade its roof and install the solar array, as part of a major project which involved acquiring and renovating the company’s new headquarters at 29 Lees Road.

Managing Director of ERS, Clive Jones, said: “The Caldeira new headquarters project is a perfect job for ERS. The dilapidated nature of the building on Lees Road enabled us to utilise all of our divisions, roofing services, solar installation, electrical services, asbestos removal and scaffolding, and we were able to deliver all of these services together for Caldeira.

“We are looking forward to installing the next phase of solar panels and electrical works in March, to take Caldeira’s solar generating capacity up to half a megawatt (500KW), and we are delighted to be helping Tony and his team explore the possibility of ‘maxing out’ the capacity of the Caldeira roof with a megawatt (1MW) of renewable solar electricity generation capacity in the future.

“This is an inspirational project and I’m sure there will be many local business owners who will be watching closely and will be tempted to follow Tony’s lead. He is doing the right thing for the environment, for the local business community, and for his balance sheet!”

The Caldeira investment has also been welcomed by many across the Liverpool City Region, including the team at Knowsley Council, Knowsley Chamber of Commerce and the Knowsley Growth Hub.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods at Knowsley Council, praised the ambitious Caldeira solar energy project, saying: “Decarbonisation and the energy crisis are both critical issues for business and the environment. The Council applauds Caldeira’s ambition in tackling these issues by providing a solution that not only benefits Caldeira but also helps Knowsley towards its Net Zero targets.”

A decision is expected to be made on the ‘maxed-out’ 1MW version of the installation in Autumn 2023, following analysis of power generation levels during the summer and subject to the relevant approval processes.