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.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Solar Mapping now a reality

21 Oct 2012: A few years ago, this Rushcliffe solar project started with the idea of solar mapping West Bridgford, and this was done, albeit, it is a large spreadsheet rather than a large photomap. But technology moves on, and it is possible to use laser survey methods combined with aerial photography to map the potential for solar power generation. This article using a site in Cambridge Massachusetts points to ways that we will use in future when fossil fuel becomes even more rare. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

Brighton energy cooperative

Late july 2012: 

Brighton Energy Cooperative has shown confidence in solar power, even in this time of reduced tariff.
They have proceeded with a proposal to roof five warehouses in Shoreham Port near Brighton. It's an 87 kW installation, equivalent to 25 houses with maximum PV installations. theyve raised 200,000 and have plans for investing in another 40 kW worth of installation. Way to go!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Act urgently if you want the PV tariff

15 July 2012: With two weeks to go before the end of the month, you would be very lucky to get one quoted, ordered, installed and registered. It is still possible, some installers can move very quickly, although they are likely to have full order books during July (and what after that?). The government really have brought great instability to the industry with Stop-Go policies.
    Once you are on the bandwagon, you have years of the good tariff payments, so if you have the right sort of roof, hesitate no longer!
  Some reading below:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Take action before 1st August!

Early June 2012: The public seem to believe that the government have ceased the Feed in Tariff - but this is very wrong! If you still have enough roof, it is worth doing, and the tariff continues. If you were smart enough to get your PV erected before December 2011, you are still on the high rate.
     The present day reduced rate of 21p is such that it is still worth doing if you can get near to 4 kW worth erected.  Don't delay!
    After August 1st of this year, the FIT will reduce further to 16p, but you will then need to make sure your house is insulated to level D on the 'Energy Performance Certificate' scheme. This is worth doing, even though it seems illogical to use this condition as a brake on the installation of PV. It's about as sensible as requiring you to own a dog, or could be as expensive as requiring you to change your car to a more efficient new one.
    If you have cavity fill and some double glazing you should be able to reach an EPC of level D. There are so many parameters, such as the size and age of the building, the location in a conservation area, the complexity of the roof shape. If you cannot reach level D of the EPC, then you will only get 7.1 p, plus a small amount for sale, and the saving from using your own power.
   One information page that is worth keeping an eye on is the one that Good Energy publish.
  This is
  I hope they will keep this same link page for a good long time, and update the information on it.
  As there is a lead time for ordering, scaffolding, organising the crew, do act quickly if you are eligible, as the installation has to be completely in and registered for the tariff before 1st August.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Rent-a-roof is still possible

29 May 2012: There's been adverse publicity on the BBC about the rent-a-roof idea, whereby you get your PV panels for free, and the company installing them share with you part of the income, or at least, you get big reduction in your bills while they get the feed in tariff. Not for me, but for some with an excellent roof but no savings, this could be an answer. The problem seemed to be with conveyancing at the time of selling the house, and either solicitors or mortgage companies wanting to break the agreement or have them taken off.
   This publicity was about an exceptional case, and I don't know how it ended - was there a compromise, or did the vendor take them off? I don't know. The mortgage companies are now more aware of this issue and for the desirability to both buyer and seller of leaving the panels in place. 
   A Shade Greener, the company who started this idea, are still in business and have a warranty scheme, by which they will protect you from this risk. They have done 9,500 free installations of which 1,000 have later been sold, and are not the company who were the subject of this publicity. They can provide you a list of mortgage companies who are completely au fait with the benefits of the idea and who will not cause trouble during a transaction. In the extreme case, they offer to buy the house off the seller if the seller has an urgent need to move or sell and is obstructed in any way. 
   Rushcliffe Solar is not usually the one to promote this particular method of installing panels, as it is a good principle to own everything that is in or on your house when it comes to selling. Negotiate curtains and carpets if you will, but beware of negotiating things which require scaffolding and breach of contract. But in this case, in the cause of Fairness, it is good to let you know that the free installation is still possible if you have a very very good and clear roof. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Gedling press ahead with Solar

15 March 2012: It is very gladdening to see that Gedling Borough Council had the courage to press on with their plan for solar PV installations. Rushcliffe Solar did a report for Gedling BC last summer (2011), and the council agreed to go ahead with a £430,000 investment.
  As we all know, and regret, the Coalition government changed the tariff in November, and had two cut-off dates in December 2011 and March 2012, both of which have passed.
   Gedling BC have managed to get £90,000 of their proposed investment installed in time for the March 2012 deadline. See the report in the Nottingham Post

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wadebridge Solar

13 Mar 2012: I recently discovered the inspiring example of WADEBRIDGE, a town in Cornwall that is making a big effort to provide enough power from Renewables to meet its requirements, through their WREN project. There is more sun down there (2 or 3 degrees more south), admittedly, but the real task is the human one, that of persuading people to take part - and countering the downbeat message from the current government that seems to be going against renewables. The town uses a combination of PV solar and wind, but the striking thing about this experiment (and the other movies they have made) is the cultural and social advancement that they have all enjoyed - it's brought people together in a common endeavour. They also look to other solutions like better insulation, electric vehicles etc.
 I look forward to the next edition of Googlemaps, so I can see how dense the roofscape is with PV panels!
You can follow @WrenUK on Twitter.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

1000 megawatt milestone achieved

26 Feb 2012: Here's a link to a Guardian report that the growth of solar panel installations in the UK has pass the 1000MW mark last week. This has been due to the 'explosive' growth of the rate of installation since the Feed in Tariff was announced in 2009. This is 41 times the amount of PV panels previously installed. I call that a success.

    Looking at it from the higher plane, it should not be about Tariff, which is a short term incentive - but the tariff has been miraculously successful. As a species we are motivated by economic forces.
    It should be about widespread generation of totally Clean Energy with zero infrastructure cost (we provide the roof and pay for the installation), and zero wholesale fuel purchase cost (the Sun), and zero running cost (apart from the FIT which is cheaper than the costs of salaries and maintenance of a power station).
   A good economic justification for the tariff is that energy delivered to houses from distant power stations is only about 1/3 of that generated at source, whereas the energy we supply to our neighbours is 1/1 - 3 times as efficient!

There is still uncertainty in the industry about the status of the FiT, although there is no worry about the 21p tariff - the confusion is about the 43p one. If you have a decent size of roof with good orientation, it is still an excellent investment at the 21p rate.
   It is most unfortunate that at the same time as this confusion is occurring, there is also much discontent in the Wind industry. Although the government is nominally backing it, the confusion in the PV industry and the damage caused by the 100 tory MPs letter has caused the big players in the Wind industry to freeze some projects which would have created thousands of jobs. Whatever you think of wind towers in the landscape, there is still an overwhelming need for electricity in our modern life. The MPs think that electricity flows from a socket, not being aware that it has to be generated somewhere. They would be woken up to reality if there were more brown-outs. In the high winds of last autumn, a nuclear power station in Scotland was out of action for more than 2 days, so it isn't just windmills that have problems sometime.
   The government has a target of 22mW installation by the end of the decade, but their tampering with the FiT and their linking with EPCs has made this target near impossible unless a future government support the FiT more earnestly. Germany has 25MW already.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Beyond the 4kW limit

27 Feb 2012: DNC writes: "It seems such a pity we are limited to 4kW on houses in the UK. This is partially to do with having too much delivery to the Grid on a domestic installation from a single house, something that doesn't seem to be a problem in Germany where its common to see entire roofs covered in PV. The feed in tariff strongly discourages people having larger than 4kW in a single house installation.  I would gladly have 6kW if I had enough roof. Although we could not be 'off-grid' I would like my house to generate more, so that it could meet the entire annual demand, including lighting and cooking.

I don't think this is a house, it seems to be a small office. But, this one seems to be taking it a bit too seriously!! It is also valuable to make the PV work most efficiently, and vertical panels are not ideal."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Concentrated PV efficiency

19 Feb 2012: Hope for those with small roofs is on the way - Concentrated PV (CPV). These Semprius panels are based on Gallium arsenide not Silicon, and each cell is a tiny unit that has a lens in front of it to concentrate solar rays. The tiny units are only 0.1% of the surface area, the lenses bring the light down to them. They are claimed to achieve 30.9% efficiency compared with the 8-15% that we are used to from the current generation of panels. See also the Semprius website. This isn't a far off technology in a lab, these will be coming onto the market, and the commercial production starts in late 2012.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Update from DECC and EST on the FIT

14 Feb 2012: Oh dear, so many acronyms!! But the DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change), have lost Chris Huhne, but at least they have made their minds up over the Feed in Tariff.

  Heres a page on the Energy Saving Trust that summarises and explains the updates. The less digestible reading from the DECC is here. It is still worth doing PV, and a very good investment, but you should plan on the expectation of the 21p rate, and the 'better than very good' 43pence rate may be short lived unless you installed before December 12th of last year.

This EPC would require some work to improve it
but I gather that the proposed PV is part of the
calculation, so this 'F' rated house could be level 'C' with
added Insulation and the Photovoltaic.
     The good news is that the link to Insulation is less severe, now that they have settled on an insulation level of 'D'. The previous idea that it should be based on an Energy Performance rating for the house of 'C' was enough to kill the scheme altogether - it is estimated that only 9% of the country's houses would be eligible, and if ten percent of those house holders decided on PV, that would be less than one percent - that would make the UK impossible to catch up with Germany on renewables, would end the solar industry, continue our high carbon emissions, and guaranteed the future of only one industry, the giant nuclear power stations of the big generators.
  Insulation is incredibly important, but it's completely wrong to force them to be linked. They are both important but different.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Update on the FIT scheme

20 Jan 2012: Good Energy have come out with a bulletin explaining some of the options, in a PlanA / Plan B style. The FIT scheme and the appeal are still awaiting judgement.
There is still uncertainty. Let's get this right, it is still worth doing, even with the new tariff if you have a large roof. But the uncertainty from DECC and the Govt is causing the industry to stop in its tracks. The proposal to link the tariff to households who must first raise their house to a level 'C' EPC of energy efficiency will stop many perfectly good roofs from being converted to electricity generating. A decentralised supply of clean energy is a powerful requirement - even if it is fitted to uninsulated barns, garages, or mounted on racks in the garden. Insulation, through schemes such as the Green Deal and other incentives is important, but it is wrong to make one dependent on the other, and it only favours the very well off.

Good Energy’s Ed Gill wrote recently,
"Real progress would be for the government to set out a long term future for FIT that recognises that it’s the best vehicle we have for delivering the decentralised energy market we need. This has to include a new structure that takes into account the popularity of a scheme that allows people, households and businesses to have greater control of their energy bills. It has to avoid introducing emergency consultations and measures like the proposed energy efficiency standard."

As I (DNC) wrote earlier, If the government said that 'you cannot insulate a building until it has PV', it would be demonstrably crazy. So it is equally crazy to say that 'you cannot have PV until you have insulated the building'. Each are important, but some architectural conditions are too complex to meet either of those statements. Society needs clean energy, whatever it is mounted on.

Monday, January 16, 2012

PV for commercial greenhouse

16 Jan 2012: Report here on a project in Spain to use PV on commercial greenhouses to have a modified roof to get electrical power in the summer, without reducing the quality of environment for the peppers and other vegetables. When the sun is high in the summer, this PV is reducing over heating.
With transparent prismatic add-ons to the roof, the capture in winter is good enough for growing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

43pence FIT might return

12th Jan 2012: Rumours abound that the 43pence FIT payment rate may return this month, or even this week. This may only extend the period for people to instal (at this high FIT rate) to the end of March 2012. But that would be better than the artificially caused frantic rush in November and Dec 2011.
See Which Report 13 Jan.

13 Jan 2012 Evening Postscript:
Email from DECC, 1728 13th Jan 2012:
 Statement by DECC spokesperson on FITs case 13 January 2012 
"The Court of Appeal has not yet decided whether to give permission for an appeal or made a judgement on the FITs case. The Court will wrap up the decision on permission for an appeal and a possible judgement if an appeal is allowed in the next few weeks. Once the outcome is known we will consider our options and make an announcement on the way forward to provide clarity to consumers and industry."
At the time of writing, the DECC website is unavailable, but when it is, it should be:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Green Technologies

10 Jan 2012:  The need for the economy to make a transition to green technologies is eloquently explained in this Guardian article by Andrew Simms. 
There's a story here of lost opportunities, governments going back on promises, ideals which get dumped if they are not 'good for business'.... The green movement needs to keep plugging away, it ain't going to come easy.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Renewables in Germany

5 Jan 2012: DNC writes: I was pleasing to read that in Germany, the power generated from Renewables has now become the largest part. Nuclear is in decline, as a policy change since Fukushima.
The downside of the story is that the second largest part of German power production is from Lignite, which is brown coal, a more polluting kind of coal.
  For this illustration, I just looked at Germany with googlemaps, and zoomed in on a random part of a randomly picked town, which happened to be Konigsbrunn in Bavaria. In the photo taken from the west, South is off to the right. It is amazing how many people are home-generating, some with larger arrays than the 4kW limit of the UK.
   They are further south than the UK, so will be generating more power, but Rushcliffe and most areas south of here are still getting enough sun for it to be worthwhile.

Power UP and Power Down
  This shows that if we keep plugging away, we can make a difference, one house at a time.
  Converse to energy generation, we also need (as a country) to pay attention to house insulation, so that we achieve a good balance. I don't believe that one should be conditional on the other, as the British government is trying to do after April 2012.
  If you get the two right, it can be a fantastically good balance. My house generates 3,350 kWh/year from the PV roof, but only needs 2,700-3,300 kWh for all heating and hot water (depending on weather variations). So the combination of Powering Up (generate) and Powering Down (insulate) can be effective in reducing carbon emission. 

Location - check your location