Zoo's reptile roof generates more than power
Published: 1st Feb 2012Solar panels are contributing directly to the conservation of rare frogs. The photo voltaic cells have been installed at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park thanks to a grant of Â£15,000…
Solar panels are contributing directly to the conservation of rare frogs.
The photo voltaic cells have been installed at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park thanks to a grant of Â£15,000 from ATASS Respect, the not-for-profit arm of the ATASS Group, a statistical research and investment company based in Exeter.
The money has paid for solar panels to be placed on the south-facing roof of the Zoo's Amphibian Ark conservation centre. Mike Bungard, Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates at Paignton Zoo, said: "It is a good model for zoos generally and for reptile departments in particular, as we use lots of energy keeping tropical species happy. These cells allow us to care for Critically Endangered amphibians without increasing our carbon footprint."
Reptiles are in a sense nature's solar panels; they bask in the sun as they need warmth for their bodies to work, although physical energy comes from their food. Sunshine is critical in making vitamin D, which they need for their immune systems and bones.
The photo voltaic cells produce power all year round which goes directly into the Amphibian Ark exhibit. Amphibian Ark uses 12 kilowatts â€“ roughly equivalent to three households. The new system produces 4 kilowatts, around 30% of Amphibian Ark's power needs. The system generates an average of 87 kilowatt hours a day - enough to run a kettle for 29 hours. It also earns the Zoo - a registered charity - income through the Feed In Tariff - the money given by the government for generating electricity.
The Zoo is benefiting three times over â€“ from the power generated, the income earned and through the benefits for the animals in the Ark. Paignton Zoo environment officer Pete Morgan said: "The power generated will help us reduce our energy costs and will show our visitors what this technology can do. We could save Â£300 on electricity and generate an income of up to Â£1,400 annually through the Feed In Tariff. In the future, it would be wonderful to produce a carbon neutral exhibit. It would be symbolic of what can be achieved with solar power."
Andy Hooper, from ATASS, said: "Solar photo voltaic is one of many renewable technologies that can help reduce energy requirements and carbon emissions. During the day, when the panels are generating electricity, the frogs are effectively being warmed by the sun!"