Marwell Wildlife Solar Energy

Providing Marwell Zoo with free and low-cost solar energy through on-site generation, as part of an ambitious target to be carbon neutral by the end of 2022.

32 t
Est. annual reduction in carbon
emissions (tonnes CO2 eq)

Solar panels at Marwell Zoo
Most recent array – installed with Winchester City Council
Solar generation display

Our story

by Marwell Wildlife

Our mission is to conserve biodiversity and other natural resources, both locally and internationally. We have an ambitious target to be carbon neutral by the end of 2022 – our 50th anniversary year. To achieve this, it’s vital that we generate as much energy as possible from renewable sources on site.

Over the past 10 years, we've added solar arrays to as many south-facing roofs as possible and designed new buildings to maximise the amount of space available for solar panels. For example, our new Energy Centre building was designed with an asymmetrical roof where the south-facing side is approximately 3 times the size of the north-facing side.

Since 2011, we have completed a number of successful solar projects across the zoo, generating more than 650,000 kWh of solar energy over this period. Our most recent installation saw us partner with Winchester City Council to install panels that enable us to purchase electricity from the council at a 20% discounted rate. This saves the zoo £4500 in energy bills annually.

We also communicate our environmental ambitions to zoo guests through displays in the science gallery in our immersive and sustainable ‘Energy for Life’ Tropical House. Here, guests can explore the impacts of climate change, discover the ways we lower our carbon emissions, and learn what they can do themselves.

Our advice

Solar panels are significantly cheaper than they were when we installed our first systems back in 2011. Even without the feed-in tariff, the pay-back period on installations is quite short, particularly after the recent rise in energy costs. This makes solar projects well worth doing, either using existing capital or with financing from banks, or through a power purchase agreement.

The power purchase route is being offered by many installers and is a good option if you don't have access to financing yourself. The most recent installations at Marwell didn't cost us anything and we buy the electricity generated by the panels from Winchester City Council at a 20% discount on the commercial rate. The panels supplied by Winchester are predicted to generate 75,000 kWh per year, saving us £4,500 annually with no outlay.

Our metrics

  • More than 650,000 kWh generated from onsite solar energy since 2011
  • Annual generation is now 150,000 kWh
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