Rushcliffe Solar

Rushcliffe Solar started as a Transition West Bridgford campaign to encourage greater use of Photovoltaic home power generation systems in Rushcliffe borough, but we are always willing to answer an enquiry from other towns in the region. There are many buildings and entire streets with roofs which have a good view of the Sun and could produce power for the Grid and Income for the occupants. Hit the You Enquire tab to get a free appraisal of the photovoltaic potential for your building. Email: RushcliffeSolar@gmail.com
If you are thinking about it, do not be put off by recent changes in the tariff!: Since April 2012, the tariff was reduced to 21 pence/unit and ones on poorly insulated buildings get only 9 pence/unit. There have been further reductions since. Use the Expertsure calculator to check out your house and see if it is still worth doing.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mobile access to the website

28 Dec '10: DNC writes: I just discovered that it's possible to view this blog (and the others that I do) using a Mobile device. Normally, you need a phone with a large screen and very good reception to pick up a full web page. Most of the heavily used sites like the BBC, Eurosport, Guardian have Mobile versions.
   Well thanks to Google blogger, we have too! If you have a mobile phone, try this site with your iPhone or Android phone. (I hope it works for you).
  I already use my iPhone as the hand held device for my PV roof, now it is even more useful, for checking my various blogs!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

John a Stephens, largest PV in the E Mids

23 Dec '10: John a Stephens, one of the East Midlands largest builders merchants have gone one better by having the largest PV array in the East Midlands, as reported in a Nottingham Evening Post.

It is reported here, not only because it's the largest, but it's  installed by EvoEnergy, one of the Rushcliffe Solar sponsors, and because the managing director of Stephens lives in Rushcliffe and had his house done first, with 21 panels.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Misleading headline in the Telegraph

16 Dec '10: I was listening to the Today programme and hearing Chris Huhne (Energy Minister) rebutting a leading article in the Telegraph claiming that Green Energy would add £500 to everyone's bills. Thankfully, he did a good job, and I hope it will have allayed fears.
On the Good Energy website, Julia Davenport writes a good article, rebutting this scare-mongering:
http://good-energy.typepad.com/greenenergyrepublic/2010/12/the-true-cost-of-greening-uk-energy.html

If you see a previous article on the Rushcliffe Solar blog, you see that price rises in electricity were nil or reversing during the 80s and 90s due to abundant finds of oil and gas - but they have nearly trebled in the 9 years since 2001.
 Any country that does not invest in green energy is going to face even higher price rises as oil gets more scarce. Does not the Telegraph consider the larger societal costs that have already been incurred in Carbon capture research, and that will be incurred in future in Nuclear station building and decommissioning?
  Even the Saudis at Cancun 2010 were making that case that their oil were finite and were asking the developed world to promise support for the Saudis once it gets to the point that the last remaining oil has to be left in the ground for longer term needs - a bit like preserving pockets of Indonesian rainforest. What a sick joke!  
   They and the Qataris presently have the highest per capita consumption of oil, burning almost 40% of their own oil, even though they have a tiny fraction of the population compared with the USA - showing no signs of conserving the oil in their own economy.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How does electricity change in 25 years?

5 Dec '10: When people consider payback, they look at the price of energy and the time scale, and then relate back to initial cost. If future prices rise, your payback gets quicker - because you are using your own power and do not have to buy in. The amount you paid a few years back seems less as time helps the painful memory on the installation costs recede.
   Electricity has tripled in the last 10 yrs, and the rate of change was slowed by the cheapness of North sea oil and cheap Columbian coal in the 80s and 90s which kept the price level until 2000 - in fact the realistic price adjusted for inflation became considerably cheaper because the RPI continued to rise during those times, but 5p remained 5p throughout. That ended with the turn of the century.
You can be sure that with no more discoveries of local cheap fuel likely, power costs can only go up faster. Here is a typical list of prices in the last 25 years.

Southern Electric:
1984 Aug 4.900 + No VAT
1985 Aug 5.070
1986 Aug 5.360
1987 Feb 5.090
1988 Aug 5.700
1989 Nov 6.040
1990 Aug 6.590
1990 May 6.040
1990 Nov 6.590
1991 Aug 7.330
1992 Aug 7.490
1993 Nov 7.270
1994 Feb 7.170
1994 May 7.170 + 8% VAT
1995 Aug 7.000
1996 Nov 6.720
1997 Jul 6.160
1997 Nov 6.160 + 5% VAT
1998 Aug 6.040

Independent Energy:
2000 Mar 5.350
2000 Sept 5.200

npower:
2001 Mar 5.200
2001 Aug 4.630
2001 Nov 4.770
2003 Aug 10.190 / 5.910 (£13.41/quarter standing charge gone, first is on first 182 units)
2003 Nov 10.600 / 6.140
2004 Aug 12.650 / 6.140
2005 Feb 13.700 / 6.140
2006 Feb 15.530 / 7.200
2006 May 17.780 / 8.240
2006 Nov 19.540 / 9.060
2007 May 17.400 / 8.440
2008 Jan 12.060 / 11.510
2009 Feb 14.570 / 13.900
2009 Mar 13.190 / 12.580
(I am indebted to an 'energy historian' on the Navitron forum who has kept all his bills for the last 25 years.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Green Deal - it could help you

1 Dec '10: All the energy pundits agree on one thing - that for all the small number of new ecohouses there are, there are thousands or even millions of homes in the UK that are poorly insulated or have inefficient boilers - the cumulative effect from them is more harmful than the good we might get by focusing only on New build.
The Green Deal is addressing the issue of existing homes and business premises. There is financial support for energy saving measures, including insulation, and energy generating schemes such as PV.

See the page on the DECC website that explains more.

See also the leaflet from the Energy Saving Trust.

Friday, November 26, 2010

DECC support for Communities and Authorities

26 Nov '10: DECC, Department of Energy and Climate Change have just started a new website called Community Energy Online.

As the site states:
"This resource has been developed to support local authorities and community groups in their role as initiators, supporters and developers of local low carbon and renewable energy projects."
It's a good browse. Enjoy.

Ecotricity take on Solar! Investment opportunity!

http://www.ecotricity.co.uk/news/britain-s-first-sun-park-gets-the-green-light
25 Nov'10: I see from this report that Ecotricity, UK's other very green electricity supplier (and mostly connected with Windpower) have decided to invest in Solar power in a big way.
This will be 1 MW worth of solar panels mounted on stand on their windfarm in Lincolnshire.
"The photovoltaic (PV) panels will stand in 59 rows just 2 metres high on a 4.7 acre (1.9 hectare) site, and with a capacity of 1MW will make enough green electricity for around 280 average homes each year for the next 25 years."
They are inviting the public to invest in the form of 'Ecobonds', with a better return than any current bank accounts. 

PS, DNC writes, I have my account with Good Energy and already have a large PV installation, so am not likely to be investing in this, but others might like to. If you have a roof that faces east or west, or has large chimneys or tree on the south side, and cannot fit your own solar PV panels, this is a way to invest in solar without having to have them on your house.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ken Clarke visits a Rushcliffe Solar project

19th Nov '10: As part of NEA's Warm Homes Week, various MPs have been visiting projects in part of the country so see examples of energy saving or generating. We were honoured to be chosen as NEA's example for Rushcliffe, and nominated one house for a visit from the MP for Rushcliffe, Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke. We visited the house of Jenny Johnston.
  As he is currently Justice Secretary, Energy policy is not top of his priority list, but he showed interest in what we had been doing, and it was good of him to support the national week of action.
  As it was a Friday at the end of a very busy week, it was very relaxing for him to end the week with a nice cup of tea and a chat close to his own home.
  You can read an interview with Jenny on the WB Ecohouses blogsite.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Woking station roof

22 Nov'10: DNC writes: My son who lives in Woking has sent me this image of the covered area near the rail station in Woking. It also provides shelter for people arriving by bus and using the adjacent shops. The PV tiles are distributed over the glass to give a good amount of daylight.
  I have heard earlier that Woking is one of the pioneer authorities for investing in sustainable energy technologies. It has been doing this since 1991!
This is impressive!

Read more on:
www.woking.gov.uk/environment/climate/Greeninitiatives

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nottingham City to install a lot of PV!

19 Nov '10: Nottingham City Council just announced a programme for 160 solar PV panels on their new building, Loxley house, and another large quantity on their building in London Road.
http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=12566
This is the way to make good use of large expanses of institutionally owned roof - good for reducing carbon emissions, and good for the council tax payers.
More about it in the Nottingham Evening Post article.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ken Clarke and FIT

18 Nov '10: DNC writes: Tomorrow, Friday, I am having Tea and a photoshoot with Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke MP, who is supporting National Energy Action's Warm Homes campaign 2010. This particular visit is because of Rushcliffe Solar's work in Rushcliffe, and NEA have nominated us to take part in this at the house of one of RS's 'clients', who recently had her roof fitted with PV panels by EvoEnergy.

....and by the way,

THANKYOU to Good Energy for finally making the Feed in Tariff payment! this is very welcome, before Christmas! A Tax free £1015 just landed neatly in my account, the FIT amount from April 1 to October 1.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rushcliffe Awards Scheme

11th Nov '10: Members of Transition West Bridgford attended the evening Rushcliffe community awards ceremony at Beckett School. We had a little bit of hope as we had some nominations - for example, for services to local business, or to the environment. But with so many things going on, and so many worthy volunteers deserving the prizes, we will have to wait another year.
   Well done to Kinoulton for their Mayor's special award, for a Greening Campaign that managed to get 50% of the village involved, which is, apparently, a national record!
Pictured are: Tina Holt (WB Ecohouses), Karina Wells (Transition WB and other things), David Nicholson-Cole (Rushcliffe Solar), Mrs Marie Males (Mayor of Rushcliffe), Sheila Hood (Sustainability officer for Rushcliffe BC)

UKs largest private solar installation: Rock on!

15 Nov'10: Glastonbury, the mecca of rock music festivals has just one one better with this installation of over 1100 PV solar panels on the south facing roof of the large cowshed. In fact, the roof was designed with this in mind.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/nov/10/solar-power-glastonbury-michael-eavis
This isn't the first time I have heard of FARMERS realising how much they can earn from their large field and large livestock or storage sheds. So well done to Michael Eavis for showing the way.
Although we do not have major rock festivals in Rushcliffe, we do have a lot of farms in the rural parts of the borough. So please take heart, anybody reading this who is a farmer!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Solar Glass, and rotating panels

http://www.gizmag.com/thin-film-turns-windows-into-solar-panels/16058/
This is a report on thin film solar power generating glass. It is some time before this will be a consumer product for houses, but we can hope.

http://www.gizmag.com/heliotrope-disch-plusenergy-international-exapnsion-announced/16165/
Is a report on a house built in Frieburg in the nineties by Rolf Disch, amazingly ahead of its time. The article shows the architect's house in Frieburg, with a large rotating array on a flat roof. Clearly, this will generate more than the house's annual requirements.
A normal solar panel has a bell curve with a peak near to midday, but a rotating array can have a much flatter topped bell curve with the array working at optimum power throughout the day. If it can also tilt that would improve the power even more.
  Somehow I don't see one of these appearing in West Bridgford, but then.... Colston Bassett? East Leake?? We can wish.

Gizmag is a great website for technology addicts.
Ecogeek is a great one for Eco-technology addicts.

And can we have one of these on the south facing slope of Sharphill instead of houses? (this solar farm is in Ontario, similar latitude to ours, but plenty more land.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Germany can balance its power!

8 Nov '10: I read a report today in Time magazine,
http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2010/11/08/can-solar-power-lead-to-blackouts/
implying that too much Solar power could lead unintentionally to blackouts - central power stations being confused by a sudden surplus of renewable energy. This is an absurd extrapolation of a trend. In Germany, the amount of home generated power on a fine summer day is getting close to the entire country's electrical needs, which could lead to a shut down of the coal fired and other power stations.
   Partially this is because Germany (with its well designed buildings) has a low demand for air conditioning, and if this occurred in the US, the surplus power would be eaten up by aircon.
   The UK is a long way from getting near this, and it would be a blessing if it could. Weather forecasting is  now an advanced science, and there is plenty of warning if we are going to get such days, just as we can predict days of higher wind or rain. If the system was really this fragile, then it needs fixing quickly!
   The accusation by Stephan Kohler is absurd, because of its alarmist extrapolation.  If it got anywhere near this situation, there would be adaptations to the grid to offload the electricity as an export, just as France currently dumps surplus nuclear power to the UK, through undersea cables. There is talk of a European super grid to share energy, so that the UK may sell North Sea wind power to the south, and the south sell Solar energy to the cold north. The more home generated energy we see, the quicker this grid will evolve. At the moment, in this house, we use something like 70% of the energy we generate annually because we use a heat pump, so we are not 'swamping' our neighbours quite yet!
   The UK is aiming for 50% windpower eventually, and the Grid is going to have to get used to dealing with intermittency.

Rushcliffe Solar nominated

8 Nov '10: The staff of Rushcliffe Solar are attending an awards evening at Beckett School on 11th November. We have been nominated for an award for service to the community (in the field of Energy). That doesn't mean we have won it, it's a nomination.... so let's not write more about it now, but if we do win an award, you will hear more about it here!
  Meanwhile.... if you think your house could take PV panels, do fill in the 'You Enquire' tab above and find out what the deal could be for you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Both Solar on one roof - Meter it!

November '10: We welcome the arrival of these PV panels in a house in Willow Rd, WB, installed by MG Renewables. It is the ideal location, pure south facing and a clear modern roof, space for 16x235Watt panels with only the centre portion left for the existing vacuum tube solar water panels, and space for more in the future.
Kas, the owner has set up a spreadsheet to record the daily input, this is one way to 'enjoy' the panels - monitoring their progress and comparing it with weather information. He has had solar water heating panels for a couple of years, but without any form of metering, so there's no way to know if it's doing any good. With a regular metering regime and his new PV panels he can meter the PV, the day and night electricity, and the gas too, comparing tariffs and calculating income.It becomes a bit of a hobby, and one can look forward on sunny days to see what the score will be, a bit like anticipating a 5 day cricket match result.
See the growing sheet at: tinyurl.com/Kas-meter

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Renewable Energy meeting on 16 November

Renewable Energy Technologies and their financial incentive schemes
Tuesday 16th November 2010
7pm for refreshments, prompt start at 7.30pm


SNC Training, South Notts College
Mere Way, Ruddington Fields Business Park, NG11 6JZ


The third in a series of free evening events:
Short talk and experts to answer your questions


The talk will cover:
  • Generating your own electricity via Solar PVs and wind turbines
  • Ground and air source heat pumps
  • Solar hot water, wood/pellet stoves and boilers
  • FITs and RHIs (i.e. the financial incentives)
First, Talk by: David Hill - Carbon Legacy
followed by the chance to put your questions to a panel of suppliers and independent experts, including David NC from Rushcliffe Solar.


Please email info@wbecohouses.co.uk if you are likely to be attending: it is not obligatory, but it helps with planning the refreshments and leaflet printing.


Directions: Follow Mere Way through Ruddington Fields Business Park. Pass the first SNC building on the left, and take the next turning to the second SNC Training building. It has a distinctive suspended curved wall with car parking beneath it. Park here or on the roadside.


Buses to Ruddington village: Ruddington Connection (Trent Barton) & No. 10 (Nott City Transport)



For more information about the Eco House Group, go to http://wbecohouses.co.uk
For more information about Rushcliffe Solar, please email RushcliffeSolar@gmail.com 


The WB Eco House Group is a project inspired by Transition West Bridgford: www.transitionwb.co.uk

Doing it the big way - 504 panels on one roof!

30 Oct: Here is a link to an article about a farmer in Cambridgeshire - he installed 504 solar photovoltaic panels over 736 square metres on a massive barn.
It is arranged in 36 strings of panels, with 12 inverters. It would produce something like 100kW on a sunny day and being due south at 22ยบ it will work at its best in midsummer.
http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/2010/10/16/123991/Britain39s-biggest-barn-mounted-solar-PV-switches-on.htm
I often see these massive warehouses next to the M1, and wonder why they can't all be photovoltaic power stations - maybe it needs a national effort like the building of the National Grid to make something like that happen.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Post 20 Oct situation with Renewables

20 Oct: Despite this day being a much feared day (for budget cuts), and one that will have many consequences in other parts of our life and economy, there is a small glimpse of relief, in that the situation for renewables is presently unchanged.
The Good Energy website sums it up well, Feed in Tariffs will continue in their present form for PV, and the Govt will continue with intended plans for the Renewable Heat Incentive.
    The degression rate - the rate at which the rate of FiT payment is reduced annually - might be reduced a bit faster than the originally proposed 7%, but this can only be good for those who get their panels up before 2012. The degression system was always intended to encourage early adopters, and discourage the "We'll wait until prices come down" brigade.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Installation in West Bridgford

13 Oct '10: One of the first people to come to our outdoor solar surgeries in July, let's call her Ms JJ, is now happily living underneath 14 solar PV panels. These were installed by EvoEnergy some time in September. We, the team of Rushcliffe Solar, wish her many years of happy FIT payments and reduced energy bills!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Solar boat to circumnavigate

29 Sept '10: IN case any of you enjoy a link between photovoltaic power and boating, please enjoy this link!
http://www.ecorazzi.com/2010/09/29/worlds-largest-solar-boat-kicks-off-round-the-world-voyage/
In case you want to sail one of your own, try the Virtual version on:
http://www.virtualregatta.com/index_planetsolar.php

Birmingham houses to get Solar panels

3 Oct '10: Birmingham has announced a major programme (£ 100 m) to instal PV solar panels on houses.
"Plans to fit power generating solar panels to council-owned properties in Birmingham will be pushed forward this week after the council agreed a "green new deal" scheme covering 10,000 homes.
     In the biggest proposal for retrofitting houses through an energyefficiency upgrade yet seen in the UK, the council agreed a £100m proposal last week designed to create jobs and meet the city's ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions."

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Installations in Rushcliffe

3 Oct '10: DNC writes: Tim Saunders of the Energy Saving Trust has sent us the sustainable energy installation statistics for Rushcliffe Borough. These date from April 1st, the beginning of the Feed in Tariff.
   It seems there have been 49 installations, totalling a value of 125 kW (averaging to about 2.5 kW each). I am sad to see that there is not a single 'commercial' installation of PV in the time - if we were in China there would have been dozens! The householders of Rushcliffe are gradually getting the message, but not the institutions or businesses.
   There has also been one domestic Wind Turbine worth 5 kW and a commercial one worth 10kW somewhere in the borough.
  Looking at the East Midlands as a whole, Rushcliffe seems to be doing quite well. Rushcliffe is a rural borough smaller than an 18th of the East Midlands, but domestic PV installations of 49 (125 kW) out of a total of 914 (2.371 mW) across the whole region seems quite good.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Which panels to choose?

2 Oct '10: We get quite a lot of questions about 'Which panels to use' - this is difficult to answer, as it takes 25 years of living with them to know if a class of panels is truly successful, and what the replacement percentage may have been in that time. Some panels are tested merely by quick 'Flash' tests, and that says nothing for the reliability of the panel or the responsiveness of the manufacturer to technical queries or claims.
  David Hill of Carbon Legacy has written a long and detailed article on Rushcliffe Solar site about some of these questions.  http://rushcliffesolar.blogspot.com/p/panel-details.html

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Support for the Feed in Tariff

30 Sept '10: DNC writes: It's unfortunate that the Coalition government, having promised to be "Greener than Gordon Brown's government" have allowed rumours to grow and destabilize our confidence in the Feed in Tariffs.

If you are an early adopter, and installed PV before July 2009, they will not retro-engineer the FiT, so the best deal going seems to be with Good Energy. GE will continue to pay microgenerators on its HomeGen scheme who had their systems installed before 1st February 2010, and aren't eligible for the higher FiT rate. This amounts to15p per unit generated until April 2011, 5 times the amount that other utilities will pay. I don't know if this applies to you if you join them now, because initially, it seems to be a loyalty payment for those who have been with GE for a while. For my system they kept their word and sent me payment at 15p a unit for the period Oct 2009 to April 2010.

Please join the http://wesupportsolar.net/ website group and send the emails to Chris Huhne and others, to make sure that there is no regressing on the Feed in Tariffs. To me, there is a fair case for reviewing the original FIT idea on other systems such as Biomass and Heat Pumps, as it was hard to quantify the income and earnings. With PV, there is an OfGem meter, and the amounts generated and the amounts imported through the house meter are completely clear, and are very difficult to falsify, so there should be no altering of this scheme. Flexibility is built into the existing scheme by their ability to tweak todays's figure of 41.3p, so it would be better to let that scheme continue. Home generators are, collectively, reducing the need for power stations to be burning Columbian coal or imported oil or gas, so are good for the country as a whole, making use more energy independent.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Insulation meeting on 19 Oct

Eco adaptation isn't only about putting PV roofs up and fitting heat pumps. The NUMBER ONE and TWO things are to
  • improve insulation! and to 
  • control draughts!
Please come to a meeting at South Notts College (Ruddington site) 19th October for a good presentation and discussion about these. One of the guest speakers will be David Hill of Carbon Legacy, a sponsor of Rushcliffe Solar.
http://wbecohouses.blogspot.com/2010/09/slimming-or-slashing-heating-bill.html

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nottingham Evening Post features Rushcliffe Solar

28 Sept '10: Many thanks to the Nottingham Evening Post (and Jon Robinson) for a well written article on the Rushcliffe Solar project.

http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/westbridgford/7-000-West-Bridgford-homes-suitable-solar-panels/article-2690774-detail/article.html

Quite often when you see something about you written in the media, you are grinding your teeth at the inaccuracies, but Jon is an experienced writer on environmental matters and has written it perfectly. I am glad to see that he got a comment there from a member of Rushcliffe BC.

So, congratulations to Jon on a good write up, and I have only one small addition which is to add that people wishing to get a free PV survey from Rushcliffe Solar should use the website http://rushcliffesolar.blogspot.com and leave their details on the ENQUIRE Tab above.
The Evening post also writes a very pleasing Editorial piece, many thanks!
===davidnc
Rushcliffe Solar is a Photovoltaic campaign jointly initiated by Rushcliffe BC, Transition West Bridgford, Energy Saving Trust and University of Nottingham, with subsequent sponsorship by ten solar installers.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rushcliffe will be a power generator!

27 Sept '10: Councils can Create & Sell Electricity: when the Feed in Tariff came in, it was for householders, institutions and businesses, but somehow Local Authorities were not allowed to take part. This seemed anomalous as they have many many roofs in their ownership - the prime purpose of the legislation would seem to have been to reduce power generation transmission losses from distant fossil fuel power stations by local generating. So why where LAs not included?

Chris Huhne as part of the Coalition Government removed the ban - so that Councils are now able to generate electricity for sale to the grid.

In the light of this at the first available Council Meeting, Lib Dem Councillor Rod Jones proposed at a Council meeting on 23rd Sept: "in the light of the decision of the Secretary of State for Energy to remove the ban on Councils selling renewable energy, this Council recognising its scope from land and premises to produce energy from wind, solar, ground source and other sources, will review as soon as is practicable, the available options and the associated costs and income in the long term."

Well it is good news that this was approved!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ship of the Sun, producing 4x its energy!

18 Sept: The SonnenSchiff development near Freiburg, Germany is amazing:

http://inhabitat.com/2010/08/16/sonnenschiff-solar-city-produces-4x-the-energy-it-needs/

It is designed by Architect Rolf Disch. With Passivhaus standards for the houses and far more than 4 kilowatt roofs on all, it is claimed to be generating 4 times its required energy needs. The design seems to be taking it to extremes for some, but I would certainly like to live there!
If you read the page, there are some interesting comments following up the article. And there are many more photos, and plans.

Nottingham City investment in Solar power

18 Sept '10: Nottingham Evening Post reports that Nottingham City Council is to make a major investment in Solar electricity by installing PV panels on hundreds of houses. See the link.
  The power generated will go into the Grid, and will save the residents a large proportion of their fuel bills. There will be other extensions of their investments in district heating and green power, including getting power from food scraps and garden waste.
  It is a ten year strategy. See the article for more detail.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lifestyle 'load shifting'

4 Sept: There is a longer article on the Charging the Earth blog about lifestyle shifting - the idea that you do a 'reverse Economy 7', you shift your highest use of electrical items to the peak power output of your PV roof - using washing machine etc during the middle of the day. There can be a beneficial saving over the year if you run your house this way.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Good Energy Case Study - published!

2 Sept: DNC writes: wow! I am really happy that Good Energy (renewables-based electricity supplier) have written a case study about the PV roof on my house and the research on the Sunbox project.
See the Greenenergyrepublic Page
Although their main focus is on solar electricity, it's generous of them to give so much space to the Sunboxes project.

Welcome to Team UK renewables

2 Sept : Welcome to Team UK Renewables, the final company we have signed up as sponsor-installers for Rushcliffe Solar. TUR are a startup company in 2010, so will be very keen to give you a good deal.
Roy Redhead is your contact 0845 901 1663, and the company specialises in Photovoltaic panels and Air Source Heat pumps. He is based in West Bridgford (as far as we know) so no great distance to travel for surveys.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Metering is a way to save energy

It is amazing how the simple act of storing your meter readings can save energy. Somehow, the competitive instinct kicks in, and you try harder to get a lower meter reading than the week or day before - result is that you save energy! It isn't just about the design of the house or its boiler or insulation - energy saving is also linked to lifestyle.

It is worth doing the metering record for Electric, Gas, and even Water if that is on a meter. If you have a PV roof, it is essential so you can calculate your payback! You can compare it with the amount you have to import.

There is a more detailed article about this on the WB Ecohouses blogsite. See the Metering Page on there. It also contains tips on how to convert your Gas to kWh.

If you want an XLS file with the simple algorithm for calculating dates and times and day number, write to rushcliffesolar@gmail.com - otherwise just build your own one a day to day or week to week basis, and you will see how the house and how you perform.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

PV Milestone reached!

28 Aug: DNicholsoncole writes: Today, in the Peveril Solar House, the PV roof galloped through another milestone, that of 3,000 kWh generation since it was installed last October - that is magnificent! about 200 more than expected in one year, and still a month to run before the anniversary! Three megawatts sounds like a lot to me, and we've done it in under 11 months.
   Once the Feed in Tariff has been running for a year, this sort of performance will be bringing in over £1,500 a year, and in our case somewhat more, as we use more of our own power than the average house - having a Heat Pump for heating.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Seminar at the Environment Agency

25 Aug: I was invited to talk at a lunchtime seminar for staff at Nottingham's Environment Agency Office. These are for topics linked to Climate Change and Energy shortage. I had only about 25 mins, but covered four subjects.

  • First the West Bridgford Transition group and WB Ecohouses group, and the importance for activists of communicating the message widely, not just doing things privately.
  • The Rushcliffe Solar campaign, to encourage people to take up Photovoltaic panels, to increase the home generation of electricity in Rushcliffe, and for them to benefit from the feed in tariff.
  • The Charging the Earth project, building Sunboxes to augment the performance of the ground source heat pump - appropriate because at this very moment, my research poster on the sunboxes are on view at the SET conference in Shanghai.
  • The Sustainable Tall Buildings course at Nottingham University - where we are trying to teach our students bioclimatic principles for tall buildings - our next project is based in New York, trying to apply Passivhaus principles to the units in a 60 storey structure. 
I was sharing the floor with Penny Poyzer, the owner of the West Bridgford Ecohouse in Patrick Rd. Compared to my technology oriented topics, she was talking about the virtue of growing your own food, plus many observations on green lifestyle. A major learning point from her house is that you can apply extreme levels of insulation to a 120 year old house, and make it airtight enough for heat reclaim to work.
   As a nice human touch, we could see out of the window that the staff in the Environment Agency are indeed growing their own, there was a well managed cuban-style micro farm with members of staff having their own little 2 sqm patch, full of healthy looking vegetables.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Payback already paying back

22 Aug: D-Nicholson-Cole writes: Last week, I had an electricity bill from my supplier, Good Energy.
 This is a day I have waited for more than a year since I started metering, tuning, installing etc. The Reverse bill! 
   Actually we didn't at first get a reverse bill, we had an electricity bill for £ 36 pounds from Good Energy. They had a real reading for 16 June, and an estimated one for 16 August. It was estimated at 1033 kWh, but the actual consumption in that time was 350 kWh, largely thanks to the Photovoltaic Roof. In the same two months, they also decided to credit us for all the solar electricity that we had generated and 'sold' from 1 October 2009 to 1 April 2010, at pre-feed in tariff rates.
   So when things are added and subtracted, it turns into a bill for Minus 76 pounds!
   The mathematical Minus-result arises because the credits and the payments are in one single bill. I am hoping that when the first Feed in Tariff payments are made they will be a separate payment, so that we don't get negative bills for the next 25 years! My brother in law in Yorkshire, with a 3 kW array facing south has just received a cheque from his supplier for £ 550 comprising the feed in tariff and estimated sales from 1 April 2010 to 17 Aug 2010.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Call for Volunteers

Rushcliffe Solar is a campaign group that has evolved from Transition West Bridgford, and is now supported by Rushcliffe BC, Energy Saving Trust and Uni of Nottingham. It is focused on raising awareness about the benefits of Solar Photovoltaic panels on houses, both for reducing our dependence on fossil fuel based powerstations, and for the financial benefits to householders. The research period is well advanced, we have had two architecture students databasing streets in W Bridgford, using googlemaps and streetview, identifying good locations, and helping with Saturday open air solar surgeries in Central Avenue.

The next bit is more difficult because W Bridgford is so large! We want to deliver A4 leaflets to many streets with the Rushcliffe Solar leaflet and this is beyond the timescale of the 2 students, especially as their main purpose in the time remaining is the databasing and responding to enquiries.

Please could we have volunteers to deliver in their area (or parts of W Bridgford). There is no talking on doorsteps, it is simply deliver and move on. The skill factor is that each volunteer should maintain an idea of where East, South and West as they move, and has a momentary look at the house before delivering, to decide if chimney, trees, small size or dormers make it a waste of a leaflet (including a guess about the rear, looking for visible rear chimneys or trees).

We have a record of where we have already delivered, and will update the map as each area is covered. our students will brief the volunteers on how to recognise Good'uns and Bad'uns.
if you can, please email your location to RushcliffeSolar@gmail.com or Karina Wells, for coordination.or info@transitionwb.co.uk and info@wbecohouses.co.uk . Any one of these will be good.
You can find out more about Rushcliffe Solar from the website http://rushcliffesolar.blogspot.com/

Monday, August 16, 2010

Prince Charles to visit Nottingham

16 August: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10982323 In a BBC News report, the Prince of Wales is due to embark on a September 'sustainability' tour of Britain. He is travelling by Royal Train, powered by biodiesel. He will start in Scotland, from Glasgow, and the tour includes Edinburgh, Carmarthen, Bristol, Newcastle, Todmorden, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham.

Apparently, the main focus of the Nottingham visit will be to an estate which has installed a lot of Solar PV panels, which I guess will be in the Meadows, where a lot have been put up recently. It seems he is planning to put up about 32 panels on his own home in London, Clarence House.

Keep your ears open for the local media telling you exactly when he is likely to come.

Open Day at Peveril Solar

15 August: We had the EvoEnergy open day on Sunday. I forgot to count, but estimate that about 20 people called round. Appropriately, it was a nice sunny day, with about 14 kWh harvested. Nicola, Jessica and Aidan joined us from Evo.
  We started the session out on the field looking at the house from the south east. Everybody arrived at 12, and nobody came later, so it became a single long session with plenty of time for questions.

Most people were there for their interest in Photovoltaic, but there was also interest in the Surya sunboxes for those who were considering heatpumps, especially now that I am more aware of their performance, and contribution.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Media coverage of Solar PV

August
There is a very good discussion of the 'Solar for Free' idea in an article in the Guardian of 9 August. This followed the outbreak of articles in the Times and Mail, and features on the BBC, mostly initiated by the clever press agencies working for the companies who offer the 'Solar for Free'. The Guardian did a far better job of researching what was behind the story, remembering to put the other point of view.
We are not against it, because we are glad to see more solar roofs, but we are against the spokespersons failing to mention that if you pay for it yourself, you will enjoy a massive benefit from the Feed in Tariff.
  The summary of Adam Vaughan's Guardian article is saying that it's a better idea for you the householder to get the feed in tariff.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Open day at Peveril Solar

We have an Open Day on Sunday AUGUST 15 at the Peveril Solar house. Visitors can call between 12 and 2 pm. The focus is on Photovoltaic systems - home generation - how it might fit, how the feed in tariff works, what it might cost, how the payback will work, what the maintenance and management involve.
There will be experts on hand to explain anything. Let's hope we have a sunnier day than the ones we have had in the second half of July.

As I don't want to put the address directly on the blog, please email RushcliffeSolar@gmail.com to warn us that you would like to come and we will give the address detail. We would prefer people to come all at the start, 1200 if possible. So, if you arrive later, we may have started without you. Refreshments are provided.
(By the way, I am giving up the Forest-Leeds first game of the season for this.... )

This house offers:
4 kW Photovoltaic roof, the largest possible under the Feed in Tariff, with 22 panels.
Ground source Heat pump, drawing from twin 48m boreholes.
• Uniquely designed and built Solar thermal panels that heat the ground under the house, hence heat the house.
Light Tube bringing sunshine into the centre of the house.
Induction Hob, cooking technology that is highly energy efficient.
• Liquid circulating Underfloor heating
• Cuban style micro-farm for vegetable growing.

The open day is organised by EvoEnergy, and is mainly directed to their customer or enquirer base. May I say before any of our sponsors get a little bit worried that it is Evo, it was first arranged back in June some weeks before Rushcliffe Solar commenced.

We shall of course mention the other main systems in the house, the Ground Source Heat Pump and the Surya Sunboxes augmenting the pump, but only for those who are interested. It is difficult to adapt an existing house to a GSHP (most go for Air Source), but for Newbuild houses, Ground Source is a more thorough solution - and if you have a GSHP, it's my belief you should hybridise the sources.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Welcome to Carbon Legacy!

Rushcliffe Solar's group of sponsor installers now include Carbon Legacy who are based locally in East Leake, just south of Rushcliffe.
   They cover almost all aspects of renewable systems, Photovoltaic panels, Ground Source Heat pumps, Air source HPs, Solar thermal, and Wind turbines. Carbon Legacy have a good website, with some interesting examples of work done, including work with Architect Bill Dunster at Upton, Northants.
   They have a very knowledgeable and experienced team, and are capable of national coverage.
(Contact David Hill or Aimee Parkinson on 0845 6972419)

Monday, August 9, 2010

A very tight fit on hipped roof

Mixture of panel types on a very tight site
9 Aug: This roof is on a house of Richard's Mum, an ex-West Bridgford resident, now living further south - this photo was sent to me as a good example of doing almost everything.
    The house has 1.5 kW of PV installed, which is very good considering the tight fit. If we had this house as an enquiry to Rushcliffe Solar, we would have advised against it - with the modest level of detail we would get from Googlemaps, with the problem of the hip tiles and the roofight, (leaving at best room for only 8 panels) would have made us assume it was too difficult to fit. However, it shows that if you get an installer to do a close-up dimensional survey, and apply a bit of determination, you can achieve the near impossible using an ingenious fit of rails and panels.
    We noticed that the geometry of the panels on Richard's house have been rotated to make it fit.
    Normally, you would make more use of the upper part near the ridge, but this is already occupied by 3 solar thermal panels.

In addition to this PV installation, the house has the three solar panels for water preheating. They also have a wood burning stove for room heating - although this is just room heating (does not have back boiler pipes).
Hence, for this house, very low running costs overall.
  I am trying to find out more about it - two questions:  is the main background heating still requiring a Gas boiler, and is there a chance for an Air source Heatpump to replace the old boiler?
  It is good to see that they have 200 litres of Rainwater capture, for irrigating the garden.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Next Outdoor Solar Surgery

The next opportunity to meet us for real will be our Outdoor Solar Surgery on 7th August 2010. We are on West Bridgford's Central Avenue, outside Belle and Jerome and the Health Store between 10am and 1pm. Please call in and chat.

POST surgery comment: We did have our table set up on the 7th August, although business was not so brisk - it was the combination of the Riverside Festival making all of Central Avenue more quiet, plus not being a Farmers market. We might move to the other side of the road next week 14th August, opposite Iceland, but still in range of Belle and Jerome's wifi.

Installations in Rushcliffe Borough

6 Aug: The Energy Saving Trust have kindly sent me a statistic from the Central Feed in Tariff Register.

Between 1st April and 6th August of 2010, there have been some installations in the Rushcliffe area.

Apparently there have been 22 domestic installations, totalling 53 kilowatts. There have been no installations on commercial or other building types. That is an average of 2.4 kilowatts per installation.

Hmmm.... I hope that the number will look better by December 31, 2010, and partially aided by our efforts.

What about getting it done for free?

6 Aug: There's a lot of hype about this 'Roof leasing' / 'Free Installation', whatever you want to call it.... There was a feature on Radio 2 on Thursday 5 Aug on Lisa Tarbuck's Drivetime programme. It was completely misleading, unfortunately, because the guest was advertising as if it was the only service available, and was not (unlike other BBC coverage) accompanied by another speaker who could cast a different light on it. Lisa did not have the knowledge to ask him about how much better it would work for people who pay for it themselves, and she believed everything he said as if there was no alternative.

Actually the Feed in Tariff was designed to be a benefit for building owners and householders to participate directly, as an incentive to start up solar power in the UK. This sudden emergence of these roof leasing companies is a form of commercial exploitation that could lead to changes in the rules on Feed in Tariff. Yes! it will generate more power for the Grid, but Sorry! the tariff rate is over-high for commercial scale power generation.

It's a very good deal for the companies, as they continue to operate and own the panels for 25 years and earn ALL the income from them - £15k over 25 years becomes about 50-60k over 25 years depending on future energy prices. They don't even pay you rent for your roof, all they offer that you will enjoy some free electricity during the sunny season - as he said, this benefit could be equivalent to 40% of your usage over the year - perhaps £200-£250 a year in estimated savings, but no cash return.

If you own the panels yourself, you would cover more than 100% of the usage, because the Feed in Tariff pays the equivalent of 3-4 times the cost of electricity, enough to pay your gas bill and more besides. You will get a decent cheque twice a year from your electricity supplier. And wouldn't you rather invest that 15k so that YOU get the 50-60k over the 25 years? There is no ISA or savings account that can match that! And your property could increase in value sufficiently to cover that initial cost, if after living in it for a few years, you market it as a house with zero energy running cost.

Roof Leasing will not add capital value to your house as you will have to reveal at the time of sale that you neither own the panels, nor do you get any income from them, and that you are required to permit 25yrs of access for maintenance to their staff. You add no value to the property, and if you do not, some purchasers would not want to take it on the liability.

Your roof has to be in perfect structural and weatherproof condition (good enough for the next 25 years) and must face as near south as possible and be big enough for 3-4 kW capacity, with no trees near enough to grow to overshadowing height within 25 yrs. Is this the case?

For some, there is a buyout clause, a bit like buying out an endowment policy or a mortgage, if you come into some money later, but as they set the price, you are stuck with what they offer. They may well want to sell at some stage, as there is a risk that the FiT might be adjusted later, to benefit building owners and not commercial companies - so they may be willing to offload the installation to you - this is an interesting risk factor for both of you. The company ISIS declare that they will not sell at all, but gift after 25 yrs. You would fully own the panels including any income from them when the 25 years is completed.

We don't want to sound negative. We quite like them because the more panels appearing on roofs, the less we shall need new nuclear power stations in future. The more your neighbours will be inspired to find out, and do it themselves, using the FiT.

If you want to be a home generator, but get it done for free and have the right size of roof, then do it - but it will not earn you a cent.

We will give you a couple of links below, but we have not approached these companies to be sponsor installers for Rushcliffe Solar - because while part of our mission is to see more Photovoltaic roofs in Rushcliffe, the other part is to tell you how much you can benefit from the Feed in Tariff.
AShadeGreener are based in Yorkshire
ISIS Solar are based in London and the south.

There is a very good discussion of the 'Solar for Free' idea in an article in the Guardian of 9 August. The summary of the article is saying that it's a better idea for you the householder to get the feedin tariff.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Welcome to Ace Solar!

5 Aug: Welcome to Ace Solar! We had a meeting with Karl Kelk of Ace Solar, a most interesting gentleman who has many years of experience building and installing renewablew energy systems in Portugal, and now recently returned to the UK. Ace based in Nottingham, have a local installation team, and have experience in PV solar, solar thermal and micro wind power.
Contact Karl Kelk 0115 921 6868

Meetings with Solar installers

4 Aug: We had an excellent day of meetings with a number of our solar installer group, who are becoming sponsors of Rushcliffe Solar. We met in our workspace, the Department of Architecture and Built Environment.
    This week, we have had meetings with SASIE, Ace, Aspire, Hestia and Carbon Legacy, and will be adding them to the list in the next couple of days.
   We are going to close the list at TEN, as we feel that it is fairer to our clients to avoid confusing them with too much choice. It is also fairer to the sponsors, so that the probability of getting your enquiries is reasonably good.
  All of them are MCS approved. Quite a few of them have experience and interest in other technologies such as solar thermal, wind turbines, rainwater harvesting, heatpumps, underfloor heating. We will expand our installers list, and write up a introduction for each, as they join.
Pictured: Rain Luo, James Rixon, Grant and Lee (Aspire), and David Nicholson-Cole

Further Advice to householders

4 August: After our meetings with suppliers, and some extremely interesting conversations, we will be adding these clauses to each of our reports. If you have already had one of our report, please note the clauses carefully. We will add these to our 'Frequently Asked Questions' pages.

Roof thoughts:
If your roof is very old and fragile, and if you do not have underfelt, or you suspect rot in the timbers, undersized rafters, flaking tiles, slipping slates, chimneys about to shed pots or bricks, ridge or hiptiles about to fly..... do not continue. The panels last over 25 years and if your roof needs a significant refurbishment or felting sooner than 25 yrs it would be expensive to take all off, add felt, retile and refix panels - do it now, then put the panels on after. On the positive side, a mesh of strong alloy rails attached to your roof will make it stiffer, and the rainscreen effect of the panels will protect your roof against future weathering - but the roof must be sound in the first place.

Insurance thoughts: The panels become fully part of your house and your insurer will usually add these freely in when you your system is fully commissioned - but if you haven't told them, they wouldnt know, and you would not be covered - so phone them.

Reflections on energy conservation: If you already have a very high energy consumption, do not forget that there are cheaper ways to cut your bills than to spend several thousand on a Photovoltaic roof. Do an energy audit on your house and lifestyle......
  • improve insulation
  • see if windows are adequate
  • instal energy efficient light bulbs
  • turn off standby devices at night
  • reduce your thermostat by a couple of degrees
  • have more showers than baths
  • turn off external spotlights, garden lights
  • adjust your central heating programmer to turn off earlier in the evening and later in the morning.... 
  • ......and many more such ideas, some of which cost nothing. 
  • Keep all your energy bills, and look at them going back for the last two years, calculating both your energy consumption per year for electricity and gas, and setting savings targets for next year. If you make some energy improvements to the house, note your energy bills for the next quarter and compare them with the same quarter the previous two years. 
The Energy Savings Trust website has a very comprehensive list of ideas. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Welcome to SASIE!

4 August: Welcome to SASIE! SASIE are founded in Nottingham, but have a national coverage. They are the most recent sponsor installers to join Rushcliffe Solar. (Contact Neil Smith 0115 916 1046)
      SASIE, fully accredited under the MCS scheme,  have a comprehensive coverage of renewable energy systems including PV installations, Solar Thermal, Ground Source Heat pumps, micro-Wind Turbines, Underfloor heating and Rainwater harvesting. They can support projects from concept to commissioning and support, including custom design of difficult contexts such as combining PV with thermal, educational projects and more.
    These three interesting projects show the re-cladding of a high rise, fitting to a delicate slate roof, and setting up a large rig on a flat roof.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Energy Plan for the UK 2050

2 August: The government's Department of Energy and Climate Change, with Chris Huhne as Energy secretary, have published their Energy Plan 2050.
    I am glad they have done this, as we at the Dept of Built Environment are frequently talking about 2050 as a target. A long term target requires a different sort of thinking to short terms like 2012 and 2016, payback calculations, tariffs and the like - these are all small steps, but what will it really be like in forty years time? Society, living patterns and the energy economy will be radically different by 2050 (for those of us still here....). I am not envisaging a world of Dan Dare, jetpacks and travelators, more the opposite - far more reliance on bicycles and local farming and other forms of localism than we can now imagine - and possibly with regular power cuts in some areas.
   That is the Energy and Food-Water picture. If Climate Change raises sea levels, that is another whole thing to worry about. Energy shortage is an immediate risk facing us which even the most hardened climate change denier is unable to deny.
   If we could take one of these imaginary jetpacks and take a flight over England in 2050, we would see photoelectric roofs everywhere, rather like you now see water tanks on all rural houses in Australian outback. It will become a necessity for new houses, indeed, it is built into the 2016 regulations for new houses. Distributed home generation is necessary to reduce the great transmission losses from the large central generating stations. Houses built between 2016 and 2050 will face predominantly south to make their roofs more convertible to PV. Developers will recognise it as a necessity to help them sell the houses. Solar thermal is becoming increasingly visible in 2010, but will be nearly universal a decade from now.
   Rainwater catchment will have become a necessity, as will vastly better insulation (which you can't see from your jetpack.... ) You would see more gardens turned over to vegetable growing than now - the trend is already happening. Lifestyle changes will have been forced onto us, such as reduced expectations of easy travel.
  The report can be downloaded as a 5 meg PDF from the page:
http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/what_we_do/lc_uk/2050/2050.aspx
and seems very thorough, with sections on Lighting, Transport, Industry, Space and Water heating, cooling, Agriculture, BioEnergy, Waste, Nuclear, Fossil fuel carbon capture, Onshore wind, Offshore wind, Tidal energy, Wave energy, Microgeneration (thats us folks!), Geothermal electricity, Hydropower, Electricity balancing, Negative emissions and Electricity imports. The report  starts with pathways towards this, and concludes with a discussion of costs.
  Page 212 brings in the discussion of Microgeneration, with PV a couple of pages later. It is clear that up to 2009 (the announcement of the Feed in Tariff) the UK is lagging behind Europe and the rest of the world.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Third Saturday openair surgery

31 July: Rushcliffe Solar had another open air surgery on Central Ave. It wasn't as busy as the previous weeks, although some callers were good, and some decisive. We had DNC, James Rixon and Sheila Hood on the stand.

I went shopping later at ASDA and couldn't help thinking that it might be a better location (if we are prepared to work without the laptop), but it would be more complicated to arrange.

It was a Craft market day, and no so many around as on the Farmers' or the Gardeners' market. But we met some callers determined to have a go, and we will be sending them reports during the week.
The next Open Air Solar surgery is on 7th August.

Pictured: Sheila Hood of Rushcliffe BC and James Rixon of Rushcliffe Solar

Monday, July 26, 2010

Solar House in West Bridgford

26 July: Some people have asked about the house we use as the example in the poster for Rushcliffe Solar. There is a whole other website devoted to it, Charging the Earth, because of the research work on Heat Pump Augmentation.
   This is the house of David Nicholson-Cole (the author of this piece, and founder of Rushcliffe Solar) and is a 'maximum' PV system - i.e. it's a 3.96 kW PV panel array (in 22 Sharp NU180 panels). This is east facing, but is still on course to generate more than 3,000 kWh in its first year.
  Although the house is electrically heated (using a Ground source heat pump), the Feed in Tariff from the power generated by the roof is enough to pay the entire annual energy bill - heat, hot water, cooking, lighting and power - and provide some income beyond that. The annual power consumption of the house is likely to be about 6,500 kWh by the end of this year, which may divide approx 2,000 power and light, and 4,500 for the heatpump. Bear in mind that the average British small house burns about 25,000 kWh per annum in combined electricity and gas. This is a pretty economical house!
•  So, although DN-C is getting free energy for the next 25 years, why bother with Rushcliffe Solar? The answer to this is that he is keen to energise others to do likewise, because it's good for the planet, the energy future of our society, and it's also a good deal for the householder.
•  The other question is, What are the strange panels on the South wall?..... not your average solar thermal panel, you think? These are custom designed Sunboxes - thermal panels designed to feed heat directly to the Heat pump, and in so doing contribute about a 25%-30% of the annual house heating and hot water requirements. They are designed and built by Mr N-C as a research project, and are unique in the world, as far as we have heard.... although more will be following, that's certain!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ways of Displaying Solar data

24 July: I have been asked to explain more about Display methods - if you have made the investment in a PV roof, you want to take pride in the productivity of your system - making it a bit of a hobby at the same time.
   The minimum you would always have is the standard OfGem meter that sits discreetly next to your circuit breaker panel usually.  That is free. You can take daily readings, as I do off mine. It's valuable to check this once a day anyway to make sure that something hasn't tripped a circuit breaker.
    You can ask your installer for the handheld option which is a portable unit linked by wireless or have a small wall mounted display in the house somewhere.  For this, some will charge, others will include it.
     Handheld units are usually equipped with a USB connection and memory, so you can download to a computer regularly, eg monthly.
     For public systems, eg the Attenborough Nature Reserve visitor centre, it is important to have a prominent wall mounted display to show visitors how the system is performing.

In my case, I opted for the more expensive option of a webrouter, which is a small box that is connected to the inverter at one end and has an ethernet cable to my existing broadband modem. Being connected all the time, it can send an update every 15 mins to a datalogger in Germany that then rebroadcasts the results from my and 32,000 other systems..
http://www.sunnyportal.com/
Then click to view 'publicly available systems', then enter Peveril into the search field.
To see others, select your country and size of installation for some 'Renewables Surfing'

http://tinyurl.com/peveril-solar-roof
is a demonstration of mine. Using more of this site, i can see every day for the last ten years or more....
the set up also includes a small weather station giving surface and air temperatures, and irradiation . also sending to the same place.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Second Outdoor Solar Surgery

24 July: Saturday morning, we had the second outdoor Solar Surgery for Rushcliffe Solar on Central Avenue. We collected a lot of interest during the morning, including some who informed us they were definitely going ahead.
 It was the day of Farmers' market and that is a major attraction, and brings many in to Bridgford. Oddly, we collected more addresses on the less crowded day of the Gardeners' market.
Pictured: Rain Luo giving advice to a passing lady shopper... and apologies to same lady for her having to hold her Farmers' Market shopping while we explain.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Welcome to MG Renewables

22 July: We are gradually signing up sponsors who will keep Rushcliffe Solar campaign going through the autumn and into next year. We are grateful to EvoEnergy for being our first sponsor. Now we have more MCS accredited Solar PV installers joining the team.
  Welcome to Gerry and Martin of MG Renewables. I have met them a few times as supporters of the West Bridgford Green events such as the West Bridgford Summer Gathering (in early June each year). They are experts in PV solar, but they also have specialities in Heat Pumps and Solar Thermal installations. Check out the website.
(Sherwood, Gerry Kennedy on 0115 845 6406)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thanks to EvoEnergy for helping us start

21 July: We are most grateful to EvoEnergy for helping us get the RS campaign going. Knowing that we would maintain a completely even handed supplier list, but recognising that a campaign like Rushcliffe Solar could only be good for the whole industry in the region, EvoEnergy treated our staff to a good training course into the secrets of PV installation and pricing. The idea was for us to be a form of Quantity Surveyor for PV installation - knowing industry prices, but being neutral as to who would be contractor.  We also reduce the overheads of the PV suppliers, because the customers are well informed in advance about the Feed in Tariff, the possibilities for their house, and the complicated calculation for Payback.
One very important thing for the course was to deliver ideas about costs that would not mislead people - too high and they would be quite put off, and too low, and they would suffer disappointment when they saw real quotations. We base our price estimates on the use of good quality Sharp NU185 panels.
(Beeston, Chris Brooke on 08448 150 200)

Rushcliffe Solar on Facebook!

21 July: We now have a Facebook Page We have no idea what benefit this will bring, other than widening the awareness of Rushcliffe Solar and the benefits of home electricity generation. If you are reading this blog, and also are a Facebook user, please 'Like' the page, and it will then grow. We can share experience and thoughts on PV generation, and we can discuss initiatives that could take place in other parts of the UK.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Seems like trying too hard

18 July: Driving through south London on Sunday, we observed this amazing example of "Trying too hard" - for such a small house, the eight arranged on the front elevation are surely enough? They do illustrate that when possible (if the house is the right way round) it's better to be putting them on the back. Generally, I find solar panels attractive, but perhaps in this case, it is 'uglification'.
  What amazed me was that the panels on the side wrapping round the chimney were not solar thermal, but were additional PV. These were quite definitely shaded, and would be shaded for much of the day.
  Unfortunately many of the houses in West Bridgford are hipped with chimneys, which reduces the chance of a decent amount of PV solar generating.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Do I need planning permission?

We get asked this question frequently. 
I had an email from the conservation officer of Rushcliffe asking us to expand on this with more detail, and I am grateful to him (Tom Street) for this request.
  For most areas, since 2008, the planning rules have been relaxed so that alternative technology solutions (such as PV panels or solar thermal) are usually deemed to be 'permitted development' unless they project more than 200mm from the roof or wall surface. The Town and Country Planning amendment document explains the rules more fully.
   A polite visit or exchange of letters with the planning officer (not a full fee-paid application) is usually enough to re-assure you that you can proceed.

Conservation Areas are 'areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance'. Designation gives control over the demolition or alteration of buildings and provides the basis for policies designed to preserve or enhance all the aspects of character or appearance that define an area's special interest. (Section 69 of the Civic Amenities Act 1967)

There are 29 conservation areas in Rushcliffe (e.g. Edwalton village). Rushcliffe's website lists the conservation areas, and the rules applying to conservation areas. (They are not against solar panels in principle, you just have to be smarter about positioning them, eg, avoiding defacing prime views of the building). In this case an application would be required, but your solar installer (or Rushcliffe Solar) could help with a photo-montage to display how the panels might look.
  If for some reason you discontinue using your solar panels, you are requested politely to remove them, to restore the appearance of the building. Tom Street tstreet@rushcliffe.gov.uk is the conservation officer for Rushcliffe Borough and can answer detailed questions on this.

Listed Building  If you have one of these, you have a higher planning threshold to jump, although all Local Authorities recognise the need to respect the movement towards energy sustainability. It may be possible to provide solar power in a discreet way (e.g. in a roof valley). This needs to be discussed with your conservation officer. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Outdoor Solar Surgery

17 July : Rushcliffe Solar had its first outdoor surgery today, in Central Avenue, West Bridgford. We set up a laptop and flat-screen on a desk in Central Avenue, West Bridgford from 10 till 1pm.
    The aim of the open air surgery is to reach out to people directly, with a welcome element of randomness - never knowing quite who would walk past - catching the interest of people who might never go to a website, or hear a small news item.
It was windy and sunny, some joked that with wind like that we should be promoting wind turbines!
Although it's difficult to see the LCD screen in bright daylight, we managed to use Googlemaps to examine the roofs of enquirers, and give them some ideas of what is possible. We took over 20 firm enquiries and will be sending them a report on power and payback during the week.
    We also met a gentleman who advised us on the idea of 'roof-leasing' where a company instals your panels for free, in return for a Pay as you Earn contract. In effect they are renting your roof - your benefit is the free electricity. We shall be finding out more about this and posting it on here, you can be sure!
We were very busy from start to finish. We enjoyed it and will do it again. It was the Gardeners' market, and next week it will be the Farmers' market. Rushcliffe BC have a news item of the event on their front web page.
David Nicholson-Cole and Rain Luo and Sheila Hood were taking part for Rushcliffe Solar. Many thanks to Belle and Jerome for wifi and electricity, the Health Shop for a space on the pavement, and to Sheila Hood from Rushcliffe Borough Council/Energy Savings Trust who joined us for the entire morning, giving extended advice on sustainable living ideas.

Location - check your location