Results: Tim Madeiros, AES founder and CEO, with Giorgio Zanol, Lindo’s president. *Photo supplied
Results: Tim Madeiros, AES founder and CEO, with Giorgio Zanol, Lindo’s president. *Photo supplied

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 19: Solar panels on the roof of Lindo’s Market have helped to conserve 2,545 trees in the past year.

The energy statistic is just one of several nuggets gleaned from the Devonshire store’s renewable photovoltaic (PV) system.

Lindo’s Group of Companies’ installed the solar PV panels in May 2011 — the first commercial installation of its kind on the island.

Alternative Energy Systems (AES) (Bermuda) Ltd fitted 300 SunPower panels so that they could tilt upwards, allowing easier access to the roof for maintenance and cleaning.

Environment

At the time it was estimated the panels would provide up to 11,340 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy per month, meeting between 40 to 60 per cent of the grocery store’s load requirements.

Over the course of a year the renewable energy output was estimated at 136,000 kWh — equal to a 211,000 lb reduction in CO2 (carbon dioxide emissions), the planting of 2,300 trees and 209,000 undriven car miles.

When the panels were installed, Giorgio Zanol, company president, said: “Not only will this solar energy system provide cost savings on energy for us, but it’s a step toward helping the environment — one that we hope other companies will also be inspired to take.”

During the past year, the environmental goals have not only been met but surpassed.

According to SunPower Monitoring System figures, since October 6, 2011, the PV panels have produced 138,247 kWh — an average 12,567 kWh over the past 11 months.

Data recorded on September 10, showed the past month alone produced 2,985 kWh.

Zach Moniz, manager, said: “The solar panels were installed in May of last year and since October, we’ve had the ability to track power on the Internet.

“The panels produce a third of the power we need to run the store.

“They feed into our grid and what we can’t produce is then compensated by BELCO.

“Some months are better than others, but we are probably saving $3,000-$3,800 a month on average on our energy bills.”

In the past 11 months, the 138,247 kWh of renewable energy has cut carbon emissions by an estimated 218,833 lbs.

This is the equivalent of saving 2,543 trees (grown for 10 years) and not driving 228,586 car miles.

It has also reduced consumption of crude oil by 267 barrels.

All the environmental impact figures are based on national averages in the US (see www.epa.gov).

Mr Moniz said: “The stores' electricity costs are anywhere from $50,000 to $80,000 per month [$960,000 per year].

“The power generated by our panels is on track for our estimate — of meeting 40 to 60 per cent of our load requirements.

“But it all depends on how many sunny days you have. At peak conditions, the system can produce 60 per cent of what we need, and we’ve had a lot of sunny days and drought-like weather this summer. But the rest of the time, it’s more like a third of our load requirements.”

He added: “Any savings are great — it’s great we can lower our operating expenses — but the panels were put in more for the environmental impact than cost saving.

Oil barrels

“It’s going to take eight to 10 years to pay off our initial investment, so we like to view this more from an environmental impact — in terms of how many trees we can save and how many barrels we can reduce our dependence on oil by.

“The results are what we were hoping to achieve, in terms of what we could do for the environment.

“The directors are very happy and customers are also appreciative of the environmental impact.

“It also means more dollars are staying on the island, as less oil is being purchased overseas.”

He added: “There’s not been any maintenance issues and any time there are high winds or there’s a storm, we make sure nothing is loose.

“We spray them down once in a while but the rain washes them quite well, so they are pretty maintenance-free.”

Asked whether there were any plans to install solar PV panels on the Lindo’s store in Warwick,

Mr Moniz said: “That store is a little bit different as its situation means the sun just skirts the roof quite quickly.

“I don’t think the directors have had that discussion yet.”