IT may be the oldest golf club on the island of Ireland, but Royal Belfast is certainly ahead of its time when it comes to embracing green technology.
Founded in 1881, the lavish surroundings of Royal Belfast Golf Club (RBGC) in Holywood, County Down, have got even greener after partnering with Belfast-based solar energy specialist Next-Gen Power (NGP) to ensure a more sustainable future for the club, both financially and environmentally.
Through the installation of 27 solar panels, discretely positioned out of sight on the roof of RBGC’s majestic clubhouse, the club is now set to reduce its electricity costs by up to 70 per cent, while at the same time reducing its all-important carbon footprint.
Royal Belfast Chief Executive Stuart Thom explained: “In light of the recent increase in utility costs, we reviewed our renewable and energy strategy with a view to reducing not just costs but also our carbon footprint which, in itself, is very important to our members, visitors and potential tourists coming to play Royal Belfast from all over the world.
“Our clubhouse at Royal Belfast dates back to the early 1900s which brings many challenges from a utility consumption perspective. Having seen our bills increase by close to three times over the last 12 months, the Club made the decision to instal solar panels on a section of the roof that is not visible from ground level, which was another important consideration given the heritage of our building and the gorgeous natural surroundings of our location,” he added.
“We approached Next-Gen Power who were very supportive and understanding of our needs and objectives. They completed a survey, provided a detail report and carried out the installation of the panels with the utmost professionalism and a minimum of fuss.
“Now, just two months in, we’re already seeing the benefits and with the Next-Gen technology at our disposal, we can see in real time, how much we’re saving on a daily basis and how much we are reducing our carbon footprint,” concluded Stuart.
Headquartered in Belfast with an office in Drogheda, Next-Gen Power provides green energy solutions, powered by the sun, to businesses and households across the island of Ireland.
Using the latest online technology, NGP can remotely conduct an energy survey and offer Solar PV and Battery Storage solutions to reduce electrical demand, improve energy efficiency and provide savings of up to 70% on energy bills.
Customers will typically recoup or offset their initial investment in less than four years, then ‘make money’ for the remainder of the lifespan of their solar system – which comes with a product performance warranty of 25 years.
“Rising energy costs have caused us all to rethink how we heat and power our businesses and homes, and golf clubs are no exception,” said Next-Gen Power COO Graham Bailie.
“Our goal is to support clubs on their decarbonation journey, saving them money on their monthly outgoings and putting them in control of their own electricity generation through Solar PV and Battery Storage.
“All of the golf clubs that we work with have very bespoke solutions based on their electricity usage and their future plans to become more sustainable. We want to be a key part of each club’s decarbonation journey and we do this by building a strong working relationship and having a good understanding of where the club wants to go and how our Renewable Energy Solutions can help,” he added.
“Our aim is to provide every golf club with savings of 60-70% on their annual electricity costs, which should enable the clubs to pay off their initial investment over approximately three years. Given the fact that our solar panels come with a 25-year warranty, this offers massive long-term savings and allows the club to plan and build for a sustainable future,” concluded Bailie.
The company is carving a niche for itself in the golf sector, having also carried out recent solar panel installations at Castlerock Golf Club in Coleraine and County Meath Golf Club in the Republic of Ireland. The company is currently in talks with a further six golf clubs across the island.
Brian Goddard of County Meath Golf Club said: “With the volatility and uncertainty of electric prices in the current market, we decided to go for solar panels to reduce our overall electrical spend and for environmental reasons too.
“So often these projects can be a nightmare to oversee but thanks to Graham and the Next-Gen Power team, the installation was a pleasure to manage.
“Everything promised by Graham was carried out promptly and efficiently and the Next-Gen installation team were a delight to work with, and extremely helpful working around the club to ensure minimal disruption to golf and our members,” he added.
Bert MacKay, General Manager of Castlerock Golf Club, said: “Here at Castlerock, we know we must move with the times and become more economically efficient and if we could do this by reducing our footprint and becoming more environmentally friendly, then it was a no-brainer for us!
“I heard Graham Bailie talk at a conference about solar energy and it just made sense to the point that we phoned him the following day and got the ball rolling so to speak.
“It really was seamless. Literally within four months, the entire process was completed, were up and installed within a week and we are already seeing the benefits,”concluded Bert.
Founded in 2013, Next-Gen Power’s green energy solutions include the use of Solar Panels (PV) and/or Battery Storage to give customers a natural, efficient and cost-saving alternative to electricity from the grid.
Last year was NGP’s best to date with installations of its solar panel and battery storage solutions increasing by a staggering 100 per cent. The company is already well on course for another record year in 2023.