Renew On Line (UK) 47
Extracts from NATTA's journal
|Welcome Archives Bulletin|
5.Going Solar...with RSPB
Photovoltaic solar is moving ahead quite well in the UK at last, aided by the governments PV support scheme (see right), and by some innovative additions/upgrades to it. For example, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has introduced a “Going Solar’ scheme which uses government grants plus low interest loans from the Co-op Bank to help people to install a domestic PV array, with support from Solar Century, and then has a buy-back arrangement for any excess power with Scottish and Southern Electricity, via the RSPB’s existing zero-premium green energy scheme, RSPB Energy. Mike Robinson, RSPB Marketing Manager, said: “‘Going Solar’ has been put together with the environment in mind and not profit. RSPB makes absolutely no money from this but the environment benefits and so too will birds in the end. We’ve tried to make it as simple as possible for people to invest in their own solar energy. With the generous grants available, there’s never been a better time. The feedback so far has been outstanding and shows just how much people are willing to help, plus they can save money on electricity bills!”
...and with Scottish Power
Scottish Power is also piloting solar power systems for domestic users which could allow householders to generate power themselves and sell any excess power to the national grid- possibly using a net metering system- if that proved attractive. The project, which involves 60 houses in Troon, South Ayrshire, Berwickshire and Glasgow, using funds from the DTI’s programme.
Gerry Magee, who is heading up the project for ScottishPower, told the Sunday Herald (2 Nov 2003) that early indications suggested that solar power could supply 700 kilowatt hours of power compared with the average household consumption of about 3300kWh. However, the capital outlay was large (£6000 to £8000 per kW installed) and, even with grants, it would take ‘somewhere between 10 and 15 years for the solar power units to pay for themselves- so people would have to be really committed to it as an idea to invest now, but obviously the price of the units will come down as more of them are made’.
There were also social spin off benefits. For example, the pilot project houses in Troon are sheltered homes run by South Ayrshire Council- houses which tended to be occupied most of the day and whose heating will be on a lot of the time. He said that early results suggested that the power created would be better used for heating and lighting in the houses themselves rather than for being sold on to the national grid. ‘For power to be sold at a premium price it needs to be of a consistent and predictable supply but unfortunately that is not the case with electricity generated through solar panels. This means that the power the systems would generate could only be sold to the grid at about 1p an hour when the money householders would be saving on power could cost as much as 5p an hour.’
He concluded ‘I want to stress that this is at an early stage but the results to date suggest that generating their own power will be a better option than selling it on to the grid.’
* Scottish Power have also teamed up with Future Forests to provide a web site which allows you to calculate your personal carbon dioxide footprint. It then indicates how you can reduce it- via supporting the planting of trees and investing in projects that avoid carbon dioxide emissions. That of course includes an option of signing up with Scottish Powers ‘Green Energy H2O’ electricity retail scheme- in which they contract to match your electricity use with power they generate from their hydroplants, at no extra cost. Details on 0800 0277776 or www.scottishpower.co.uk/green. Friends of the Earth Scotland have backed the scheme.
The new web site is: www.scottishpower.co.uk/carbonaccount
More PV support
Last year the Department of Trade and Industry announced a further £1.65m for 12 new photovoltiac solar projects, as part of the DTI’s £20m Major Photovoltaic (PV) Demonstration Programme, designed to help householders, public buildings, community projects and commercial ventures convert to solar power. This is the fifth set of medium and large scale proposals approved since the programme began in 2002. Previous allocations, including the 21 described in our Technology section for round four of the programme, have supported a total of 76 projects, with a combined capacity of around 2827kW peak power output (kWp). The 12 new round 5 projects are expected to produce a further 492 kWp, ‘enough energy to fully power more than 100 homes’.
The wide range of projects in the new allocations include plans to power a community centre in Bradford, a sports centre in Chesterfield and an initiative to power a block of flats in London. The funding also includes the first award in Northern Ireland- for the offices of Northern Ireland Electricity. Energy Minister Stephen Timms said: “Solar power is a proving a valuable source of energy and is making a big impact in construction projects across the country. It is in everybody’s interests that, as solar power is more widely used, we should take the fullest advantage of its potential as a clean and renewable source of energy.”
Full details of the new round 5 projects will be in Renew 148.
Manufacturing boom for PV
In a deal with BP, Romag, a glass manufacturer in county Durham, is planning a £2.5m extension to its factory to turn out PV panels. Romag will supply the glass and BP will provide the solar cells.
Meanwhile, Electronics giant Sharp is to invest £2.5m to open its first European plant for solar PV cell manufacture in Wrexham, north Wales, thereby creating 90 jobs.
Energy minister Stephen Timms said that the move was a ‘strong vote of confidence in the fast growing solar energy market in the UK’.
The plant will initially make large solar panels from small silicon-based solar cells brought in from Japan, but subsequently, with further investment expected, it plans to start producing the cells themselves in the UK.
Initially, the Wrexham plant plans to produce up to 20MW of PV cell capacity annually. Total world demand for solar PV products is currently around 600MW annually, of which roughly a quarter is in Europe. UK demand is around 6MW p.a.
Sources: FT Oct 31, PA News Oct 30, The Journal Oct 30th.