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France To Install Solar Panels On Some Roads

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.

France is to have 1,000 km of solar photovoltaic panels fitted to its road network in the next 5 years.

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.

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London Southend Airport Benefits From New Solar Farm

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.

A solar farm has recently been installed by London Southend Airport

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.

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Large Solar Power Plant Opening Postponed

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.

The largest solar power plant in the world is being built in Quarzazate in Morocco

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.

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Feed-in Tariff To Drop

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.

From the beginning of 2016, the FIT is to drop on solar panel installations of less than 10Kw capacity

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.

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Restrictions Extended On Chinese Solar Panel Imports

Back in 2013, the European Commission imposed certain restrictions on the import of solar photovoltaic panels, cells and wafers that were manufactured in China. This included limiting the numbers of such items coming into European Union countries as well as imposing a minimum price at which such things could be sold. This was to try to sort out a disagreement about solar panels being sold cheaply emanating from China.

An extension of at least a year is being imposed on Chinese solar panel imports into the EU.

Restrictions imposed on the import of solar panels from China is to be extended.

The original restrictions expiry date was due to come to an end in December but there is still concern amongst solar panel manufacturers in Europe that such panels could be imported into the EU without any tariffs being imposed. The commission has therefore decided to extend the period of restrictions whilst it carries out a review into the situation. This is likely to result in things being extended for a minimum of 12 months.

Presumably China will not be very happy about such a decision so it will be interesting to see how they respond and what impact, if any, it has on its relationship with the European Union. It will also be of interest to observe how solar panel manufacturers in European Union countries respond to this announcement.

Apparently, there is an opinion being expressed by some that the restrictions are impacting on the price of solar panels in the likes of the UK. Following the above announcement, will this mean that the number of solar panel systems being sold drop and affect the country’s ability to meet its targets of reducing carbon emissions and hitting its renewable energy targets?

Let us hope that the solar industry manages to sort things out between European Union countries and China so that we can all move forward together and play our part in helping the environment. We will keep you up to date with any further developments in respect of the above.

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Solar Panels May Be Used As Sound Barriers On M40

There are many people that live in close proximity to motorways here in the UK with some that owned such homes long before that particular road system was installed. It is unfortunate that one of the downsides for such residents is the noise level caused by cars and lorries motoring along at high speeds.

Are roads ever going to include solar cells in their construction?

Will we ever see road surfaces incorporating solar cells? – Image credit: jo.sau.

The M40 motorway have have solar panels placed along part of it to reduce noise levels for people living close by

Solar photovoltaic panels may be placed along part of the M40 motorway to reduce noise levels for local residents

Well, some people will be pleased to read that the Government is investing £2 million in a design contract to come up with ways in which noise levels can be reduced and solar panels are being considered as one of the things that could be used to act as sound barriers.

Solar panels are no doubt being considered because not only could they possibly make life more pleasant for people living next to busy roads by lowering the level of noise but the energy produced by solar photovoltaic panels could also be used to help offset the costs of installing these solar panel sound barriers.

The particular stretch of road that is being looked at initially to install sound barriers is on the M40 motorway between Loudwater (junction 3) and Wheatley (junction 8).

Solar panels are just one of the six options being considered so it will be interesting to see if it is eventually decided to use them. All the different options are to be trialed over a period of time. Once a decision is finally made it is expected that preparatory work will start around late 2016 to early 2017 on constructing the sound barriers.

If the use of solar panels is decided upon then it will be interesting to see if, in due course, they are used on other stretches of road around the UK that are known for being particularly noisy for residents living close by. We will keep you up to date with progress and also let you know of any other interesting projects involving the use of solar panels.

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Europe’s Largest Solar Farm On Water To Be In UK

We have previously written about solar panels being installed to float on the surface of water. Well, you may be interested to read that work is to start shortly on a huge solar farm project in the UK on a reservoir. The scheme is expected to cost in the region of £3.5 million and could commence before Christmas.

Could an increased use be made of water such as reservoirs to house solar panel systems on their surface?

Is it possible that we could see more solar panel farms being floated on water in the UK?

The location is Godley Reservoir in Hyde that is in Greater Manchester. In the region of 12,000 solar photovoltaic panels are to be mounted on the surface of the reservoir so it is a big project. These solar panels will cover a huge area- over 45,000 square metres. This will make the installation the largest water based one of its kind in Europe and it will be the second biggest in the world. The largest one is in Japan.

It is being forecast that the electricity generated by these solar panels will be sufficient to meet around a third of the water treatment works electricity requirements thus no doubt saving the utility company a significant amount of money. It is not the first time that solar panels have been floated on the surface of water here in the UK but it is great to see that this latest project will be the biggest in Europe.

We have so many reservoirs in the UK that there must surely be scope to make greater use of some of them to install solar panels on them. Of course, there are many reservoirs that are used for water-based activities such as sailing and fishing but there must be some that are only used to help provide a water supply to homes and businesses in the UK. Some of these reservoirs are no doubt in remote locations so, for the majority of the population in this country, they are rarely seen so surely they would not be an eye sore.

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Why Consider Having Solar Panels Installed Now?

With the winter season almost upon us, the numbers of installations of solar panel systems tends to drop off as homeowners feel that they are not going to benefit as much as they would do in the summer months as there is not so much daylight. However, there are a number of reasons why you may wish to proceed with your plans to have solar photovoltaic panels fitted in the short term.

It may not be in your best interest from a financial perspective to delay deciding until 2016 whether to have solar panels fitted.

For a number of reasons, you may wish to sort out the installation of solar panels in 2015 rather than wait until next year.

Firstly, it is quite possible that there will be a significant drop in the feed in tariff with effect from the beginning of next year. This would mean that it would take considerably longer for the cost of installing solar panels to be covered. The government has been going through a consultation process in this respect and we await a firm decision.

Secondly, the cost of buying and installing solar panels has never been as low. For instance, back in 2011, you may have paid in the region of £11,329 on average for a 3.6 kWp to 4.0 kWp solar panel system. Here in 2015, you could be paying an average of £6,750 for the same system. We are sure that you will agree that is a huge difference. Of course, nobody knows for definite what it will cost to buy and install such a system in a year or two’s time.

Thirdly, there has been an EU ruling that the UK is breaching the EU VAT Directive as it is only charging 5% VAT on the likes of solar panels when in fact it should be charging 20%. The Government is apparently considering this ruling before deciding what action to take.

So, if you have been considering putting on hold having solar panels fitted until next year, you may wish to review matters as now may be a good time to start the ball rolling and get some quotations.

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International Airport Powered By Solar Panels

Who would have thought that it would be possible to provide enough electricity at an international airport purely by using solar panels? Well, that is exactly what has happened at Cochin International Airport in Kochi in India.

Solar photovoltaic panels are use3d exclusively at Cochin International Airport to produce electricity

Cochin International Airport is the first international airport to produce electricity entirely by using solar panels.

There are now over 46,000 solar panels mounted on land in close proximity to the airport. It has taken around 6 months to install the panels. In fact, they are probably one of the first things that many passengers on planes coming into land may see as they shine in the sunlight.

The Cochin International Airport is the 7th busiest one in the country. It dealt with almost 7 million passengers in the financial year covering 2014 to 2015 so is particularly well utilised.

As you are no doubt aware, solar panels are environmentally friendly as they reduce the amount of carbon emissions. In this respect, it is estimated that by installing solar power at the airport will lower carbon emissions by around 300,000 tons every year and that is a significant volume.

So successful has the project been that the solar panels are generating more electricity than the airport uses so any surplus is held in reserve with the national grid to be used as and when required. It is estimated that the airport will have covered the installation costs in under 6 years that is commendable.

It will be interesting to see if any of the other airports around the world decide to become entirely dependent upon solar panels to provide electricity to run them. The cost of providing electricity at an airport must be huge as you have so many uses for it such as heating and lighting. Can you imagine the number of solar panels that would be required at the likes of London Heathrow or London Gatwick airports here in the UK and will we ever see sufficient installed to achieve complete reliance on them to provide electricity?

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Renewable Energy Supplies Quarter Of Electricity In UK

There has been some positive, record-breaking news in respect of the renewable energy industry in the last few days. Apparently, for the first time, the likes of solar power, hydro, offshore and onshore wind and bioenergy provided 25.3% of the electricity in the UK during the second quarter of 2015.

Solar power along with some other sources of renewable energy made a very good contribution to the production of electricity in the UK in Q2 2015

Quarter 2 of 2015 saw solar power making an excellent contribution towards electricity generation in the UK

There is also some more good news in so much as, for the first time, more electricity was provided using renewable energy sources than coal. We are sure that you will agree that this is welcome news.

Interestingly, in the second quarter of 2014, renewable energy only accounted for 16.4% of the electricity being used in the UK. Therefore, in the space of 12 months we have seen a huge increase in the use of renewable energy.

There was a rise of 114.8% in the generation of renewable energy by using solar power when comparing Q2 in 2015 with the same quarter in 2014. Electricity generated by offshore wind rose by 61.5% in the same periods, onshore wind by 70.4%, hydro by 27.7% and bio-energy that included co-firing increased by 26.2%.

It is still gas fired power stations that are producing the highest percentage of electricity at a figure of 30.2%. Nuclear power produces 21.5% and coal produced 20.5%. That leaves renewable energy in second place on 25.3%.

So, as you can see, the UK is benefitting significantly by using renewable energy sources to produce electricity. The increase in this type of energy being used to generate electricity was put down to more people having such energy sources installed and more favourable weather conditions i.e. sun, rain and wind.

Let us hope that we continue to see more installations of the likes of solar panels on both the roofs of houses and commercial premises. Furthermore, it would be good to see more solar farms being built. Collectively, these should go some way towards helping the UK meet its renewable energy targets by 2020.

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