Almost half of the electricity used by one company in the Isle of Man was generated by solar panels in 12 months, the business says.

Life insurance company Zurich’s solar power system went live just over a year ago.

Zurich says that data gathered from August last year to July this year shows 47% of the electricity used at Zurich House (the company’s headquarters at Isle of Man Business Park) was from solar energy.

The system – believed to be the biggest of its type in the island – was jointly funded by Zurich on the Isle of Man, and the Zurich Carbon Fund, which is supported by Zurich Insurance Group.

Solar panels, which were installed on a roof built above the staff car park next to Zurich House, also mean that employees can top-up their electric vehicles for free via a number of charging points.

Bruce Pearson, chief executive officer of Zurich International Life Ltd, said: ‘Generating 47% of our electricity from our solar in the first year of operation is a great achievement, so we must say congratulations to the team here on the island for their excellent work in the development and operation of the power system, and Ardern & Druggan who designed and installed it.

‘We must also thank Isle of Man Government for their help during the planning stage, and to the Department for the Environment, Food and Agriculture, the Climate Change Transformation Board, and UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man for their support and encouragement at each stage of the project. Looking ahead, we’re already working on plans to increase the percentage of renewable energy we use.’

Jason Buckley, facilities manager at Zurich, said: ‘We see the achievements over the past year as just the start of a much longer, but very exciting and necessary, journey towards net-zero.

‘The first year’s performance is therefore an important milestone. It’s a good start bearing in mind factors such as poor weather, and the lack of batteries to store power when the amount generated exceeds what we can use. At the moment, excess power goes to the grid – but we’re assessing options to purchase and install a PV (photovoltaic) battery storage facility.’

In addition to generating more of its own energy needs from solar, employees at Zurich House have been reducing power and water consumption, cutting plastic and paper usage, and increasing recycling.

They have cut electricity consumption by 25% over the past three years via a wide range of measures, including installing an intelligent lighting control system and energy efficient monitors/screens, and introducing new working practices to make sure all devices are switched off when not in use.

Zurich won the ‘Energy’ category in the 2022 Biosphere Awards, and it has been shortlisted in the ‘Transformation’ category of this year’s UK National Sustainability Awards (the winners will be announced in October).