Blairgowrie & Rattray Community F.C – Solar Powered Changing Facility and floodlights (Pilot Project) officially opened by John Swinney, MSP, Deputy First Minister on 21st February, 2016.
The Scottish Football Partnership recently completed a pilot project to deliver solar powered changing facilities for Blairgowrie & Rattray Community F.C. The club’s playing facility at Piggy Lane presented a long standing challenge due to its remote location and proximity to services and more specifically, power. Based on the success of the passive house model principles used in the design of Giffnock Soccer Club’s changing facilities, the idea developed to make Blairgowrie & Rattray Community F.C.’s facility completely power-cable free.
The Community Club’s Need for new Facilities
Five years ago, two new pitches were created in an area next to Piggy Lane, adjacent to a site which had been earmarked for housing development. Unfortunately, due to the downturn in the economy, this development did not materialise and regrettably this made establishing changing rooms at the site almost impossible due to its remote location. This had a detrimental effect on the football experience which BRCFC was able to offer its players and those of the visiting team as there was no provision in place for changing or toilet facilities. The club’s young players were forced to turn up to training and to games already dressed in their kits ready to play and had nowhere to shelter in inclement weather.
BRCFC found this situation unacceptable and started to explore the possibility of developing a modular changing solution to provide basic welfare facilities for the club and its players. It soon became clear on further investigation that the site at Piggy Lane was so remote that the costs of installing utilities would be so expensive that even with the support of partner organisations, the project would not be viable.
In late summer 2015, The Scottish Football Partnership were looking to develop a pilot project to deliver a Mark 3 version of their already successful modular changing rooms, which would be totally self-sustainable in terms of power which would be provided by solar roof panels. BRCFC were quickly identified as a potential partner club, given their need for facilities, the sporting activity which they provided for members of the local community and their desire to develop and grow football in Blairgowrie.
By December 2015, The SFP had designed and built two solar-powered changing rooms and had agreed with the club to provide £5,000 in funding towards the groundwork costs, which would include connections to water and waste removal by way of a septic tank. To further support these installation costs, the club worked tirelessly to secure additional finance from Perth & Kinross Community Challenge Fund, the Rotary Club of Blairgowrie and Sir William McPherson. Ian McGregor, a local architect kindly agreed to assist with planning consents and warrants and local contractor, Bob Smith was appointed to carry out the necessary groundworks – community partnership engagement was integral to the successful delivery of the project.
Blairgowrie and Rattray Community Football Club currently consists of nine youth teams along with a 2005/2006 girls team as well as Blairgowrie Juniors and Balmoral and Rattray amateurs, all of whom will benefit from this new facility.
The first players to use the units will be the club’s youth teams at age-groups from 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 to 2005, with these youngsters playing fun fours through to 7-a-side and full 11-a-side football.
The new solar-powered floodlights will further assist the club in providing its playing members with more opportunities to maintain football activity throughout the year.
Club Chairman, Sandy Thomson commented “BRCFC cannot thank The Scottish Football Partnership enough for their vision and investment in these units at Piggy Lane. The kids now have a secure modern facility that has enhanced the area, giving them a base and an identity where they can train and play football for years to come – a facility that will become the centre for young girls and boys to develop and maybe even become stars in the senior Scotland team!”
Kevin Lee, Scottish FA East Region Manager said “The Scottish F.A. East Region team have been working with BRCFC for the last seven years. The club have progressed from 5 individual teams working in silos to 12 teams including boys, girls and adults operating as one unified club. Due to the lack of playing and changing facilities for football in the Blairgowrie area, the club were challenged to deliver their main aim of increasing participation through strong, quality growth. The gifting of the changing facilities from The Scottish Football Partnership will allow the club to support their vision to provide football for all within eastern Perthshire. Great credit must go to the Scottish Football Partnership and the band of club volunteers who have made this happen.”
Project Technical Specification – How does it all work?
With the assistance of SMS Technologies, an off-grid power generation system was installed to two SFP designed modular changing rooms. The system, consisting of 3.75kw of photovoltaics (PV) panels, would generate electricity to provide light, heat and hot water for the changing rooms.
Photovoltaic (PV) panels which are attached to the roof of the changing rooms send energy to 800amp hour batteries via a multiplus inverter. The batteries, having been charged via solar gain, send the energy back through the multiplus which converts it into 230v to supply the equipment within the changing rooms and the portable floodlights with power. The changing rooms have been designed using LED lighting, low watt carbon fans for extraction and 150w electric heaters. Hot water is served from a 50 litre cylinder with 2no 1kw electric elements to heat the hot water to 45 degrees. The average power consumption of the units for a year is roughly 4000 kilowatt hours which equates to roughly a £450 saving on energy costs every year. The changing rooms are also fitted with a GSM Solar monitoring system which allows the club to monitor how the system is performing and warn of any faults within the changing rooms. Within the system there is also a 3.5kva backup generator fitted to supply the changing rooms with power for days when there is no solar gain.
- We used a high level of insulation to retain heat and to reduce amount of heat needed in first place.
- We ensured air space round insulation to stop the box generating interstitial condensation (sweating)
- We harness the heat expended by the children using the changing rooms and moderate ventilation to stop any waste heat leaving via extractor fans.
- We harness LED technology for internal and external lighting. To quote by example; a modern LED floodlight consuming 28watts will generate as much light as an old 500 watt halogen sun flood.
- We use deep cell batteries to store electricity charged from photo voltaic solar cells on the roofs. The batteries are slow release making them suitable for this application.
- We use smart chargers to stop over charging of batteries.
- We can monitor what is going on from a remote source with an app.
- The heater unit per changing room is less than 1 Kw and goes on automatically.
- We do not need to use fossil fuel for the changing rooms and the floodlights.
- We have designed portable floodlights which use the same principle as the changing rooms but charge batteries at the base of floodlights to power 2 x28watt LED floodlights. We estimate they will run for 20 hours on one full charge.
- The batteries make the base of the floodlight stands stable.
- The scheme by virtue of being totally self-generating gives The Scottish Football Partnership an energy payback of between £400 and £700 per year to reinvest.