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The Future is Bright for Solar Power

First published in the October 2015 issue of Quarry Management

Phil Winnington, managing director of Morris Site Machinery, takes a look at the power of solar

We have come a long way since the dark days when solar power was viewed and even dismissed as an untested, expensive fad which appealed only to the few. How times have changed. Solar is being embraced by more and more people as the world recognizes that our resources are finite and there is a real need for renewable, sustainable energy.


This year is shaping up to be the year of solar. Consider the adventure of Solar Impulse 2, the first solar-powered flight around the world. The epic bid by pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg to fly the amazing solar-powered aircraft around the globe in a planned total flight time of 25 days spread over five months is inspirational.

The aircraft is powered by more than 17,000 solar cells built into wings that, at 72m, are longer than those of a Boeing 747. It is an amazing challenge and one which aims to promote green energy and engage people around the world.

Back on home ground, it is predicted that solar power could provide up to 4% of the UK’s electricity by the end of the decade. Some say solar power will do to energy what mobile phones did for communications and markets.

From small beginnings and much scepticism in a nation not renowned for its sunshine, there are now reported to be 650,000 solar installations in the UK, which includes panels on homes. While solar has still got some way to go to be a major player in the energy stakes, we should welcome innovation and change.

Surely now the time is right for industry to climb on board and adopt new practices on site which save money as well as the planet by harnessing the power of the sun. Hybrid site equipment combining conventional power has shown the way and become more accessible as the demand for new fuel and energy sources has gained ground.

It was a natural progression from there to develop solar-powered equipment that can be hired for site projects. Solar is no longer at the experimental stage, it has come of age and offers a real alternative that is reliable, robust and economical to run.

It is worth considering your site needs as solar is suitable for areas where you may not have constant access to refuel your equipment. Such an option saves not only on fuel costs, but also the time and money of fuel runs to keep your equipment running. For example, a solar lighting tower can save up to £5,000 per year on fuel costs in addition to savings made on maintenance costs.

Moreover, using solar sends a powerful message to your clients and the public at large that you are conscious about the environment and are a forward-thinking operator.

Mainline see the light and potential of solar

The first hire company to purchase Britain’s first solar lighting tower has judged it a resounding success and says it can see its potential to appeal to a wide market. Morris Site Machinery, whose team designed and built the SMC Solar-2, have sold a number of the lighting towers to Mainline Tool & Plant Hire to offer their customers the latest equipment and technology.

Mainline have already hired the lights to Wavin UK, where they are providing a solution to a problem they were experiencing in their lorry park. Unlike hybrid competitor models, the Solar-2 is said to offer the ultimate in green efficiency and associated cost savings. It operates eight times longer than a hybrid model, generates a carbon saving of up to 3,000kg per year, and can save users up to £7,400 per year on maintenance and fuel costs. The lighting tower has currently been operating at the Wavin depot for more than 350h with no recharge required.

‘The SMC Solar-2 was an ideal solution as it is solar and battery operated and has no engine, so it provides a 100% fuel saving, emits zero CO2 and zero noise, and requires minimal service,’ said Keith Williams, managing director of Mainline.

‘We like to take a lead in our business. We saw the appeal of innovative and eco-friendly lighting which offered economic solutions for our customers. The solar lighting towers are low maintenance and cost-effective, and have proved a real success. We are very happy with our purchase.’

Mr Williams added: ‘We have a wide-ranging customer base and we believe more will see the benefits of using solar lighting towers to reduce their carbon footprint and their energy bills.  Most responsible businesses want to improve their green credentials, so there is a growing demand for more sustainable equipment.’

Mainline have been a long-standing customer of Morris Site Machinery and already have a strong reputation in green energy and products. One of their four divisions is Mainline Energy Solutions, which installs solar PV, biomass boilers and air source heat pumps for commercial and residential use.

Robin Parkin, UK sales manager at Morris Site Machinery, said: ‘We are delighted with the positive feedback to our SMC Solar-2 lighting tower. It reinforces the faith we have in this equipment and its potential to transform the way the industry operates.

‘Solar-2 delivers on many levels because it is sustainable, reliable, robust and economic. The technology means that even in a UK climate not noted for its sunshine, it can use solar energy efficiently and effectively.’

The Solar-2’s four high-quality, high-lumens LED lamps provide 100,000h of life and deliver clean crisp light with 360° coverage. With both battery and mains supply provision, the lighting tower offers flexible options for all site applications. The machine itself has a 10-year life and is completely recyclable.

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