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:
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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Solar farm over disused mine

30 Sept 2011: This story is cheering, although it makes me sad, reminding me of the decision by RBC recently not to do any solar installations on any RBC buildings, not even a tiny house sized pilot project.
In the district of Senftenberg, East Germany, an old mine with contaminated land has been made useful by being turned into a 78 megawatt solar farm. This has just been extended and is now increased to a total of 166 megawatts!
  Looking at Senftenberg on Googlemaps, it's notable how grim the landscape was when the former regime just allowed mines to expand and pollute. These vastly exceed the size of the town. There are also many lakes, some of which resemble flooded quarries or gravel pits. Some of this land would be very difficult to return to food growing because of the contamination, so a conversion to solar power station is a good and environmentally friendly use.
   We don't have areas quite as bad as this in Rushcliffe, although there are parts of Cotgrave country park (ex-mine) that are still closed off to the public. That area would be a good one for an outdoor solar farm.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Solar Greenhouse

29 Sept 2011: Here is an inspiring story, although it comes from the Daily Telegraph..... Solar panels as the roof of a self built greenhouse.
 ....Seems that Dave and Kate Evans have found a good way to cope, even if the roof of their house was covered in dormers and in a conservation area - put it on the Greenhouse!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Contribute to Solar Schools

28 Sept 2011: There is a new initiative, Solar Schools, to encourage parents and supporters to help fund Photovoltaic solar panels on Schools. There are many schools in Rushcliffe, some recently built, with large areas of flat or monopitch roof. You could add your children's school to the scheme, and attract contributions from all over the UK. See more details at: .
Five Pounds from enough people will make enough to get started, and I am sure it will snowball as some schools get closer to their target. This will be good for education and the environment, but will also earn funds for the school through the Feed in Tariff.
It's a combined initiative from 10:10, Mumsnet, the Gulbenkian Foundation and Reading Council, although the scheme is national.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Solar panels in historic locations

26 Sept 2011: DNC writes: Whilst on my holiday in Northern Italy I was pleased to see quite a lot of PV panels. The region is an advanced part of Europe (compared with the South), but they have frequent and very inconvenient 'brown-outs' due to being somewhat reliant on long distance electricity transmission from Switzerland and France. I saw a number of solar farms, and factories with PV on the roofs, although nothing like as many as in Germany.
    This example, in a small town somewhere between Piacenza and Bergamo shows how the imperative to capture solar energy needs to overcome petty reservations such as the proximity to historic buildings. Italy is full of historic buildings, but modern life must go on. PV is becoming part of the visual pattern of urban and rural life, and we almost cease to notice them - like lamp posts, overhead wires, lightning conductors, TV aerials, satellite dishes, kerbs and road signs. These enable cities to function, but preserve the essentials - the buildings survive, and the people in them prosper.
A few hundred metres from that example was this one of PV on a curved roof. You can see from this, that it is easily incorporated, and becomes almost un-noticeable if it is well integrated.
This photo disappoints me. I went to the 87 metre high viewpoint from the 'Mole Antoniella', the tallest building at the centre of Torino (the great city in the northwest), and I looked North. These are the ONLY PV panels I saw in the entire panorama. So although they may be frequent in towns and rural areas, it seems that the City is lagging behind. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Solar farms

25 September 2011: I have just returned from a holiday in Northern Italy. I noticed a number of solar farms, and stopped to photograph this one.
  Each of these freestanding systems have 48 panels on them, yielding, I estimate about 10-11 kW each. The arrays are able to swivel to face the Sun, and they can also Tilt, based on the time of year and the clock setting.
  Although, in this photo, they are shading each other at sunrise and sunset (this is almost always the problem with all installations), the mechanisms ensure that for the majority of the day, the units can work at optimum generating capacity, benefitting from the clearer skies and the higher sun angles of Northern Italy. This will mean that the 'bell curve' of generation will pick up rapidly in the morning, and have a flat top throughout the day. Even on cloudy days, like the one in the photograph, an optimum angle means that the panel will still pick up a decent amount of power from the bright sky, by pointing in the brightest direction.
  The number of these was uncountable. They stretched far into the distance, in 3 directions from where I was standing. Many hundreds.
  There must be very little vandalism in Italy. Many of these solar farms are on the edge of the road with no fences or boundaries of the sort we see around the mobile phone masts on Wilford Hill. They wouldn't last a week here with the risks of vandalism, if they were unfenced. But if installed on safe land, these represent a very determined approach to power generation, that will deliver renewable power in sufficiently substantial quantities to support large communities. 

Rushcliffe residents leading in the East Midlands

25 Sept 2011: I note, with a pleasurable sense of achievement, that a recent survey shows that Rushcliffe borough has the second highest installations of PV in the entire East Midlands, as at June 30 of this year.
      We are beaten only by Bassetlaw (Bolsover) where there has probably been a strong council initiative to do their own buildings. the Website to find this on is: In Rushcliffe, it has been achieved entirely by householders and small businesses, as RBC have not yet PV'd any of their own buildings.

The people of Rushcliffe are producing 0.33 percent of the entire micro generation of the UK, and most of that is PV (there is a tiny bit of Wind somewhere in the borough). Many boroughs are producing a mere 0.04% or 0.08%, less than a quarter of Rushcliffe. This makes me wonder how disconnected they can be from even the simplest of arguments about energy shortage or about the financial benefits of the feed in tariff.

So! we all all doing something right. I know that Rushcliffe Solar have sent out hundreds of reports in reply to individual requests on our site or to email.
     Within 100m of my house there are a three of other houses done now (thanks to RS efforts). These installations have been done mostly by the sponsor installers of our campaign. Rushcliffe Solar have played a part in energising the awareness, and removing the fear.
    Sheila Hood (of Rushcliffe BC) and Tina Holt (of Transition West Bridgford) regularly invite me (DNC, the author of this piece) to take part in Greening meetings and other green festival events that will promote PV.
    I am totally convinced that it is a good idea, not only as a financial equation for the customer, but as an ethical decision, to reduce coal-burning in major power stations.

Our Solar Future

Illustrated is Alan Simpson, past MP for Nottingham
South who is mainly responsible for
campaigning cross party on the Feed in Tariff
25 Sept 2011: Sorry for not posting this earlier: there is a real need for the public to take part in persuading the Coalition government that Solar Power is important to our future energy balance, and that the Feed In Tariff should not be watered down or diminished just because it originated in 2009, before the election. It was an all party policy, and one that is working.
Unless we maintain some momentum, nuclear will return to the agenda. This would be a sad irony seeing that the most successful developed economy in the world, Germany, now has enough renewable energy to foresee cutting all its nuclear power in about 20 years.
  Don't let climate change deniers or politicians and journalists who back the old energy corporates win here. When the oil runs out, the main thing we have is what we have always had - the Sun!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rushcliffe Climate Change policy

14 Sept 2011: I see that Rushcliffe BC are running a brief consultation process, but you have to be quick, I gather that comments have to be in by 19th Sept. 
Actually, it seems that all the Local Authorities in Nottinghamshire have agreed to issue identical policies, except Erewash BC who seem to be applying slightly tougher standards or sooner targets for achieving certain standards (good for them).
   It's good to see that the authorities all agree and are avoiding some US-style split on doctrinaire grounds where it becomes obligatory to deny climate change if you want to continue in the party.
   I quickly scanned the document and can't find anything to disagree with, they seem to be intending to continue on target to meet 2016 standards etc.

Rushcliffe fell at the sustainable hurdle....
   Having said that, it is a pity that a proposal was discussed in the Rushcliffe cabinet last week to instal PV on some of the RBC buildings, and eventually the whole proposal was turned down without so much as agreeing to a single pilot project. (click the link to read the Evening Post story). They considered it Solely on Payback considerations, without once valuing the benefit of producing clean electricity without burning coal and emitting carbon.

Why mention this here?
The personal angle on this is that Rushcliffe Solar did the powerpoint illustrated report for RBC outlining the costs and returns, and showing how the panels might fit and look on the buildings. I gather from a witness that the powerpoint was not shown, that a civil servant had converted it into a dry document listing the financial equations without mentioning the qualitative aspects :(

Tips for PV buyers + Survey

13 Sept 2011: The Renewable Energy Assurance Ltd have issued guidelines for future PV buyers, with helpful tips. The document is a 2 page PDF, 'Dont get taken for a ride'.
If you have already had a PV installation done, the organisation Consumer Focus are finding out how people found the experience. You can fill out a survey, before 27th September on your satisfaction with the service and quality of information.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rushcliffe Solar Live Surgery

On Monday 12th Sept, 7.30pm, at Belle and Jerome, upstairs bar, we have arranged a special meeting on PV - an improvisation session! B&J are in Central Avenue, opposite Boots.  Tina Holt (of WB Ecohouses) has persuaded me (DNC) to do this.
    The idea is for me to turn up with a computer and ArchiCAD and using the internet access, to look at people's houses, there and then, using mapping sites and B&J's wonderful WiFi network. Using ArchiCAD, I can design a layout for your roof, trying out the different options, and discussing it as we go. We will have a projector or a display screen. All you need to do is to come along and shout out your postal code, and let's try it. Enjoy the excellent coffee, tea, tapas and cakes of Belle and Jerome as we enjoy our evening!
    Don't worry if you have no intention of doing the installation, this is for the experience of seeing how a design is done. You might even decide that it is worth doing!

13 Sept 2011: Postscript: We had about 15 people at the event. David started with about 15-20 mins of introduction, then there were questions and some demonstrations of how we do a first stage of assessment of a roof for PV. The images come from Googlemaps, and DigiMap and Streetview, and David uses ArchiCAD to rescale these. He has a handy tool for overlaying panels onto the aerial photos. Later, the group split into two, one to continue investigating roofs using postal codes and the other to consider forming a consortium of buyers to see if a good volume deal could be obtained from the installers.

Rushcliffe BC get help from RS!

6 Sept 2011: Earlier this year, Rushcliffe Solar were asked to do a Photovoltaic study for Rushcliffe BC, considering about 20 buildings initially, and assessing their potential for PV. This was whittled down to about 16 "good'uns" and for these we worked out an approximate cost, and summary of the Plans A, B, C possible for each of the buildings. Some of them are big enough to be a solar power station (eg large leisure centres) and some are small but of educational value, such as small community centres.
     This article is in the Nottingham Evening Post Monday Sept 5, 2011:
"Cabinet members will discuss proposals which could initially see solar panels installed at six council-owned buildings. If approved, the panels could be installed on buildings including West Park cricket pavilion, Gresham sports pavilion and the education centre at Rushcliffe Country Park. Charlotte McGraw, head of community shaping at the council, said the scheme would help the council be more environmentally-friendly." 
and a lot more detail after that. See the link below.
Rushcliffe Solar have done a similar report for Gedling BC, and hope that Gedling will also be stimulated by it. Many thanks to the Sustainability team of Rushcliffe BC for commissioning this report.
  The government have relaxed the rules on Feed in Tariff earnings, allowing the District Councils to earn money from installations - so it's a good investment for the Ratepayer!

POSTSCRIPT: Sad news, the Conservative group on RBC turned down the idea of PV in the borough, not even prepared to take a punt at a single pilot project. Said it was an 'untested technology', said that we could not trust governments to maintain the payments for the 25 yrs, and said they wanted a return of 5 years (20%), and thought that by waiting, prices would come down.  Hah! wrong on all counts.
 Perhaps the Evening Post will report on it in a few days with some sort of explanation :( 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Solar panels the wrong way!

1st Sept 2011: this photograph from Flickr by Jim Easterbrook shows how NOT to do it!

Frankly, I am rather amazed.
Surely, the house owner, who must be a bit of a green technology geek should have made his own judgement that the arrangement in the photo would be 'dodgy' in the extreme.
He seems to be 'green' in more ways than one - allowing himself to be ripped off so very publicly.
  Vertical panels are just about OK on a south facing facade on a high rise, but on a house that is shaded, No Way!

 PS, Jim has sent me a follow up comment to report that the two panels between the chimneys are also PV, not solar thermal as I first thought. With PV, if just one of the panels is shaded, the entire string will not work correctly. Even the shadow from a TV aerial will affect the electrical capture!
This one above I found on a Twitter feed, thanks to Peter Searancke of  for finding it for me. The trick here is that you, dear reader, gullibly assume that the installation is part-shaded by the chimney through most of the day.... Hahaha.... Not a bit of it!
Get this! The panels are all on the north slope, so the chimney is not shading the installation, the entire house is doing that!!!

Location - check your location