BACTON United FC are benefiting from investing in solar panels on their clubhouse.
The club successfully applied for a Community Development grant from Babergh and Mid Suffolk Council which covered 67 per cent of the cost, with the remainder coming from club funds.
After an initial site visit, the system was supplied and installed at the club's Brickwall Meadow ground (pictured above) by East Green Energy, based near Woodbridge.
East Green Energy assessed the club’s needs and energy usage and worked with Bacton United 89 to ensure they invested in the correct set up to suit their needs.
Nina Tomlin, speaking on behalf of the club, outlined how the process worked.
She said: “We applied for a Community Development Grant from Babergh/Mid Suffolk Council which involved getting three quotations from local suppliers.
“We matched several of the criteria for the grant, including offering outdoor physical activity and sports, supporting sustainable initiatives and offering community support through events.
“We were very lucky to have been awarded a very generous grant to cover some of the cost of the purchase and installation of the solar panels.”
Nina explained why the club decided to invest in solar panels.
She said: “The rising cost in utilities, electricity, water and pitch maintenance etc, meant we were spending more and more on non-football related costs.
“With longer summers and less rainfall – solar gives a long-term benefit to the club and an instant reduction in utility bills helping to improve cash flow.
“The solar installation will help us to run the clubhouse in the most efficient, sustainable way we can and continue to offer excellent facilities for a wide range of teams including youth, girls and boys, and adult men’s and ladies.”
Nina outlined the benefits to the club both from an environmental and cost point of view.
“From an environmental perspective, we are generating and using our own electricity which we know is 100 per cent from renewables. While the British weather is unpredictable, we are monitoring what we use, changing the way we heat water for the showers, run the bar and anything else that uses electricity.
“As an example, in the first week 90 per cent of our energy use was self-powered through the solar generation and storage. We are hoping to get 100 per cent of our energy via solar for seven or eight months of the year.”
The installation of the solar panels follows on from a borehole and water irrigation system at the beginning of this year.
Last year the pitches suffered in the heatwave so the club decided to invest in a borehole which gives the ability to draw a substantial amount of water which can then be distributed on the pitches throughout the drier summer months to ensure tip-top condition ready for the start of the playing season.
The electrically powered pump getting the water from the borehole onto the pitches is being run almost 100 per cent by power generated from the solar panels, saving the club around £40 a week in energy costs, so the two projects dovetailed nicely.
The borehole project was partly funded by a grant from the Football Foundation and partly by the club.
Nina added: “Going forward, we have ensured our grounds team can look after the pitches long-term, even if we do have a long dry summer, and that by generating our own energy, club funds will go toward investment in the youth programme we offer and supporting the adult teams in league progression.
“With the climate warming, utilising solar energy and managing our own water usage will become invaluable and hopefully future generations of footballers and the community will benefit from the investment.”
Nina added: “I would urge any club to keep an eye for these types of grants, while we haven’t always been successful, they are always worth looking in to.”
Suffolk FA Football Development Manager Matt Stebbings said: “It is great to see the club taking the initiative and investigating alternative funding opportunities, not only to reduce their financial overheads, but also be more environmentally sustainable.
“The funding, through the Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council’s Community Development Grants, shows that not every opportunity to improve our facilities, has to come from football directly.”
Any clubs interested in funding opportunities should contact Suffolk FA Football Development Manager Matt Stebbings via firstname.lastname@example.org