Open venue invests in solar energy

Solar panels at Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Rooftop solar panels will provide one third of all energy used at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, including powering six new electric vehicle charging points.

A host venue for 10 Open Championships, Royal Birkdale has installed 318 photovoltaic panels on the roofs of its clubhouse and greenkeeping hangars to convert sunshine into electricity.

The energy generated can be used to charge electric vehicles and power clubhouse and greenkeeping operations at the 240-acre links in Southport, England.

Michael Sawicki, Managing Secretary at Royal Birkdale Golf Club, said: “As a host venue for The Open, Royal Birkdale is committed to supporting the R&A’s quest for greater sustainability in golf. The club takes its responsibility for the environment extremely seriously and a recent survey of the membership also confirmed that sustainability is high on their priority list.”

The solar panels will help the club reduce its dependency on non-renewable energy, lower carbon emissions and become more self-sufficient at a time of rising energy costs.

It’s the latest in a series of sustainability-focused initiatives by the GEO Certified venue. In 2018, Royal Birkdale installed a new irrigation system focused only on intensively managed areas, leading to a 35% reduction in water usage.

The club endorses the use of Greenup golf tees, biodegradable tees made from upcycled coffee grounds that break down and leave no residue on the golf course.

Sawicki says Birkdale is also working towards a ‘favorable’ reassessment of its SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) rating, following an in-depth report into the ecology of the golf course.

Undesirable species have been removed and work done to reinstate fixed duneland and restore favorable habitats for wildlife, flora and fauna with the support of Natural England. Sand from Birkdale’s dunes is quarried for top dressing and plans are underway to expand the club’s turf nursery to promote self-sufficiency.

Sawicki told Syngenta Golf the club also intends to switch to timer-led LED lighting and a compression system for food waste. Club officials are also assessing the option to store excess electricity in batteries and resell it to the UK National Grid.