It is interesting to hear that San Francisco in the USA has recently made it a legal requirement that all new buildings from January 2017 that are less than 10 floors in height are to be fitted with solar panels on their roofs. This new legislation was put in place by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors a few days ago and it is the largest city/town in the USA to do so although there are smaller cities in California that have a similar law in place.
From January 2017, all new buildings less than 10 floors high in San Francisco must have solar panels fitted.
Until this ruling, the position had been that all new properties in California must set aside at least 15% of their roof area to have solar panels fitted at some point in the future.
Obviously San Francisco is keen to achieve its renewable energy and carbon emission targets. In fact, in this respect, by 2020 the city hopes that all its electricity is produced via renewable energy.
Is this sort of legislation something that could be introduced here in the UK? Surely, you would have thought that, if it can be implemented in San Francisco, USA, it could be put in place across the Atlantic Ocean here in the UK.
Here in the UK, should as much as possible be done to encourage home and business owners to have solar photovoltaic panels fitted either to the roofs of their properties or to have ground mounted solar panels placed on land close to those buildings? Yes there have been many solar power schemes introduced over the years and we continue to see solar farms being built in various parts of the UK and solar panels fitted to the roofs of various properties but anything else that can be done to help us achieve our renewable energy targets by 2020 has got to be welcomed. It will be interesting to see if the Government in this country makes any comment about the above decision taken in San Francisco.
You may be interested to read about the recent construction of what is presently the fourth largest rooftop solar photovoltaic panel in the UK. It has ben fitted on commercial premises in Telford in Shropshire.
More solar panel installations like the one mentioned in this news article are needed in the UK.
Lyreco has had the solar panels fitted to the roof of their National Distribution Centre by EvoEnergy with work having commenced back in October 2015 and finished in January of this year. There are 13, 860 solar panels capable of producing an annual output of 3,200,000 kWh. Carbon emission savings could amount to as much as 1,700,000 kg and it is estimated that the company could save in excess of £53,000 per annum on their fuel bills which we are sure you will agree is a large sum of money.
We have reported on a number of large solar panel installations both in the UK and overseas in the past. Collectively, such schemes will go some way towards helping this country and the rest of the world meet their renewable energy targets.
However, of late, there has been a drop in the number of solar panel installations taking place in the UK so it is good to hear about large schemes such as the one mentioned above. There is no doubt that such solar panel installations fitted to the roofs of commercial premises are much needed and let us hope that there are many more planned in the future to help the UK meets its carbon emission and renewable energy targets.
If you use the motorway network here in the UK to travel around you cannot help but notice the number of ground mounted solar panel installations that have been placed in a number of farmers’ fields. They come in a variety of sizes with some covering a small area of land to those that cover many acres of farmland. Collectively, these will also help the UK achieve the previously mentioned targets.
It had been intended that VAT would go up on solar panels from the 1st August 2016 from 5% to 20% but it would appear that this may not be going to happen. This is because, apparently, Labour, a number of other opposition parties and even some conservative members of parliament had opposed this VAT increase in the recent Finance Bill and were proposing an amendment to the bill that is not going to be opposed by the Government.
The proposed VAT increase on solar panels from 5% to 20% on the 1st August 2016 may not now happen.
It is no secret that the solar panel industry has been struggling in recent months with fewer installations and, if the proposed VAT increase were to go ahead, it could have serious implications for the industry. For instance, it could see consumers having to pay around an extra £900 on a solar panel installation that was costing say £6,000 plus VAT. Such an increase could end up putting off quite a lot of people from having solar panels installed on their rooftops. If this were to happen it could make it harder for the UK to meet its renewable energy and carbon emission targets by 2020 and this would be such a shame.
It could also result in companies involved in the solar panel industry having to make some of their workforce redundant that is something that has been happening in recent months. This would not be good news for the solar photovoltaic panel sector nor for the country as an increase in unemployment is unwelcome for a number of reasons.
We will continue to monitor the situation and will keep our readers that have an interest in the solar panel industry informed as and when there are any further developments in this respect. Many people and companies will be hoping that VAT is not increased on solar panel installations as had originally been intended.
Most people that use a bicycle to cycle around on use pedal power to propel the bike forwards. However, for some time, there have been a number of bikes that are manufactured that use a battery to produce electricity to help transport someone with less effort being required on the cyclist’s part. There are also a number of bikes that have been built that use solar panels to help charge a battery that generates the power.
Sunlight can be utilised to help power an electric bicycle that has incorporated solar panels into its frame.
However, a company is now claiming that it is producing the first solar electric bicycle that has fully integrated the solar panels into the structure of the bike. The company is called LEAOS and is based in Italy and was only set up in 2012.
The LEAOS Solar costs in the region of £6,000. A display tells you how much energy is being obtained and how much charge is in the battery. Its range, if it were just using solar power is anything up to 20 km per day based upon medium usage. The bike can also operate from an alternative power source if there is not enough solar power. In pedal assist mode, on a full battery, it can travel around 62 miles.
The bike’s battery will continue to charge whether it is being ridden or not. The solar panels are incorporated into the frame of the bike that certainly looks an innovative design.
This is just another example of what solar photovoltaic panels can be used for. We have previously mentioned that they have been used on the back of rucksacks to generate electricity that could be used for say charging up a mobile phone. They have been placed on the roofs in car parking lots where they are used to help re-charge electric vehicles. Solar power really does have so many uses and there will no doubt be other things that people discover that such panels can be used for in the coming years.
You may be interested to read that work is almost complete on a solar panel farm that is water based here in the UK. This project is being completed on the Queen Elizabeth 11 reservoir that is situated at Walton on Thames. The solar power farm will have 23,000 solar panels.
Are we likely to see more reservoirs being used to site solar panel systems on the surface of the water?
It was only back in November of last year that we mentioned a solar farm that was to be constructed on Godley Reservoir that is located in Greater Manchester. Some 12,000 solar panels were to be placed on the surface of the water that would possibly have made it the largest water based solar panel system in Europe.
The project at the Queen Elizabeth 11 reservoir is even bigger than the one in Greater Manchester and is so large that it will become the biggest water based solar panel farm in Europe. It may even become the largest one of its kind in the world although how long it may hold those records for remain to be seen.
The scheme has cost in the region of £6 million. Presumably, because the solar panels are placed on the surface of the water, the installation costs are greater than that of a conventional ground mounted solar panel system. Electricity generated via this solar farm will be used for water treatment plants in the area that play their part in producing drinking water.
It is interesting to see that this is another example of a reservoir being used here in the UK to site a solar panel farm. With so many reservoirs and lakes dotted around the UK it will be interesting to see if even more are used to help generate renewable energy in this way. Here at Solar Panels UK we will keep you up to date with any interesting solar power projects both in the UK, Europe and elsewhere in the world.
It has been announced that France is to have solar photovoltaic panels installed on around 1,000 km of its road network over the next few years. France are not the first country to have solar panels laid on surfaces that people can be transported over as Holland has a bicycle path paved with solar panels.
Solar panels are to be installed on 1,000 km of roads in France in the next 5 years.
It is hoped that in the next five years these solar panels will be laid on parts of France’s roads and that the renewable energy generated will be used to supply homes with electricity.
Research has been carried out for the last 5 years involving the French National Institute for Solar Energy (INES) and Colas that is involved in transport infrastructure. The solar panel road surface is called Wattway.
All sorts of vehicles will be able to travel on the road surface including lorries and it is interesting to note that it is estimated that a road surface is only used 10% of the time so it would appear that there is plenty of capacity for energy to be produced using this system. It is estimated that one home can be supplied with the electricity that it needs from 20 square metres of solar photovoltaic panels. Apparently, alternatively, enough public lighting could be provided in a town for the benefit of 5,000 residents from just one km of road that has had this solar paneled road surface installed. It is hoped that as many as 5 million people could benefit from the 1,000 km of roads that are going to have these panels fitted.
Interestingly, the solar panels can be installed directly onto the existing road surface so this will presumably mean that these panels can be installed at a cheaper cost than if the existing road surface had to be removed first before the new solar paneled road surface could be laid. Apparently, the system is very durable and suitable for the grip of the tyres.
No announcement has yet been made as to which roads in France will have these solar panels fitted to them. It will be interesting to hear if the UK decides to do something along the above lines.
Back in 2008, the Stobart Group took over London Southend Airport since which time it has invested many millions of pounds. In 2014, the airport had 496 solar panels installed to help supply electricity for the cafes and shops in the terminal building.
London Southend Airport is supportive of renewable energy
Well, not wishing to stop their, in excess of 9,500 solar panels have been installed on a solar farm just to the north of the airport. It is estimated that the 2.5 megawatts of capacity will provide the airport with around twenty per cent of its electricity requirements and will no doubt play a significant part in reducing the carbon emissions emanating from the airport.
The solar farm has cost about £2 million but will hopefully be money well spent and that the expenditure is recouped over a number of years as less reliance will no doubt be placed on buying electricity from its normal source – the national grid. This solar panel farm is presently the biggest one of its kind located at an airport in the UK.
It was only back in October that we wrote about solar panels being installed at Cochin International Airport in India where in excess of 46,000 solar photovoltaic panels were installed. In their case, it is hoped that these solar panels will produce more electricity than it needs.
It will be interesting to see if more airports invest in solar farms not only in the UK but elsewhere in the world. In order for the UK and other countries to meet their targets in respect of lowering carbon emissions and making greater use of renewable energy, any further similar developments must surely have a positive and welcome impact on this so let us hope that more solar panel schemes are introduced over the next few years. As always, we will endeavor to inform our readers as and when we hear about any other interesting solar panel projects both here in the UK and abroad.
A solar power plant close to Quarzazate in Morocco by the name of Noor-1 was scheduled to be opened a few days ago but this has been delayed. No reason has been given for the postponement.
Quarzazate in Morocco
What is particularly interesting about this solar power operation is that there are scheduled to be four phases to its construction in total with Noor-2 due to be built this year, Noor-3 to be constructed in 2017 and a date has yet to be announced for Noor-4. Once the plant is fully operational it is expected to be the largest such plant of its kind in the world. Of course, that is as long as no other solar power plant is built that exceeds the size of the one in Morocco in the meantime.
At the moment, the country is very dependent on importing energy in from other countries but it is hoped that by 2020 around 42% of its energy will come from renewable sources.
It is pleasing to note that, once fully completed, it is expected that the plant which will eventually cover an area of over 11 square miles, will generate around 580 megawatts of electricity that would be sufficient to supply about one million homes.
We have previously written about a number of other large solar power schemes being built in various countries and will continue to keep our readers updated. If renewable energy and carbon emission targets are to be achieved by 2020 around the world then it is important that such large projects are built as well as homeowners and business owners having solar panels either installed on the roofs of their premises or ground mounted in the likes of their gardens. Let us hope that there is not too much of a delay before the plant in Quarzazate is operational and generating renewable energy for people in Morocco.
There has been much debate about the Government’s intention to reduce the subsidy that they provide to households that have solar photovoltaic panels fitted to their properties known as the Feed-in Tariff (FIT). Well, the Government has recently announced a change in the amount of this subsidy.
The Feed-in Tariff subsidy is being reduced on home solar panel installations of below 10Kw capacity from 1st January 2016
The Government had intended to lower the FIT from 12.47p for every kWh to only 1.63p per kWh. However, following consultations with members of the public and those within the solar panel industry it has not reduced the Feed-in Tariff as much as originally intended. Instead, the FIT subsidy is being reduced to 4.39p per kWh and this is to be with effect from the 1st January 2016.
Although the reduction is not as much as originally expected it is still a considerable drop and it will be interesting to see what sort of impact it has on the industry and homeowners. It will mean that those households having solar panels installed next year will not receive as much income from generated electricity and this will result in it taking longer to recover the cost of having solar panels installed.
As far as the industry is concerned, there have already been a number of job losses amongst some people working in the solar panel industry and it will be interesting to see if this latest announcement will see more people loosing their jobs.
The reduction in the FIT is applicable to new systems that are installed from the 1st January 2016 with a capacity of less than 10kW. Those householders that already have solar panel systems installed on the roofs of their homes or ground mounted in their gardens are not affected by the above reduction. Fortunately, there will be a number of people that have had solar panels installed before the end of this year in anticipation of the reduction in the FIT.