A solar generation scheme comprising 3,754 panels at a south Devon shopping centre has not only helped in providing clean, renewable energy, but has also secured a number of jobs for local residents.

Said to be one of the largest single roof-mounted solar panel network in northern Europe, the Trago Mills site has now switched on its array of photovoltaics.

The £2 million investment generates 778,862kWh of power, which is then fed back into the National Grid.

By the summer, it is hoped that centre’s annual electricity bill of £266,000 will be halved, when whole 110-acres of the site is expected to be powered by solar energy, giving a return on investment within seven years.

Speaking to the Devon Herald Express, chairman of the Trago Mills group Bruce Robinson said: To have energy security on site for the future is tantamount to business security and that means we can guarantee the security of the jobs on the site which is a big issue these days."

The panels are unable to be seen from ground level, but cover every inch of the roof that is strong enough for the panels or is not under a shaded area. The total weight of the panels is 93 tons and they are guaranteed for 25 years.

Trading partners on the Trago campus Devon Eco Energy installed the panels to the roof of the commercial property.

Designed in Germany by Europe’s largest manufacturer Solarworld, Scott McDaniel the company;s UK brand development and country manager said:

"Trago is a recognisable company in the area and it's outstanding for us to be involved with this prestigious site. We regard this is as our flagship commercial project."

In order to show customers what impact the panels are having, Mr Robinson told the Devon Herald Express that the yield will be displayed on a public screen.