A solar power installation at the At-Bristol science centre has proved to be more of a success than had been expected.

The 208 panels installed on the roof of the centre have generated enough energy to supply the equivalent of 14 households for a year – with original estimates predicted to provide enough for 12 homes. The panels cover an approximate area of two tennis courts.

Turned on at the site last year, the 50 kWp panels were installed to provide the centre with renewable energy, save on running costs of the building and, of course, reduce carbon emissions.

Contrary to what might be expected, the panels perform at their best ability on cooler, sunny days, as hot temperatures often see the panels unable to cope with too much heat.

At-Bristol’s sustainability manager Chris Dunford said the results over the course of the year have been brilliant, especially considering that expectations had been far exceeded.

“Our best month was May last year when we produced 6,791 kWh of electricity during the month with the best day being 26 May where our readings were 358 kWh in one day alone.

“For the year our plan was 47,000 kWh and we actually managed 48,637 kWh and this was even with three days when the panels were effectively out of action with a reading of zero with the heavy snowfall in January,” he added.

In addition to the unexpectedly large amount of electricity generated by the project, the previous expectation of a carbon dioxide saving of 25 tonnes has been beaten by an estimated 3000kg of CO2.

Following the installation of the panels, At-Bristol has now won several sustainability awards and increased its public programming on a sustainability level.

Local schools are benefitting by learning how solar panels work, with educational activities having the potential inspire young children to become interested in green, renewable energy.