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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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Domestic Solar Market In USA Breaks Record

The solar panel industry in the USA certainly seems to be progressing in an extremely positive way according to research by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research based upon information contained in the US Solar Market Insight Report.

The USA witnessed a record 2nd quarter increase in residential solar capacity

The second quarter of 2015 saw a record quarterly increase in solar capacity in the domestic market in the USA

In the second quarter of 2015, the domestic market installed 473 megawatts of additional solar capacity of a total of 1,393 megawatts. This was a record for the residential solar sector. It is also the 7th consecutive quarter that in excess of 1GW of solar capacity has been added in the USA.

Interestingly, the commercial solar sector saw installations drop by 33% in comparison to Q2 in 2014. However, it is felt that in the remaining 6 months of this year things look more promising for the non-residential sector. Utility scale solar accounted for 729 megawatts of new capacity in Q2 of this year so was a significant provider of new solar capacity.

It is pleasing to see that the USA has broken through the 20 GW of solar capacity with a total of 22.7 GW of installed capacity to the end of Q2 2015. It is being forecast that the country is on line to achieve 7.7 GW of capacity for 2015 having achieved 2.7 GW of solar capacity in the first 6 months of this year. It is believed that significant growth is going to take place in particular in the domestic market during the remainder of 2015.

It is going to be interesting to see how the UK perform in the coming months as far as solar panel installations is concerned both in the domestic and non-domestic market. It is important that interest is maintained in the solar power industry as it is a huge help in the UK and the rest of the world for that matter achieving their renewable energy and carbon emissions targets going forward.

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Are Solar Panel Subsidies To Reduce?

The UK, along with the rest of the world, has renewable energy targets to meet by 2020. One of the benefits is that we should continue to see carbon emissions reduce to help make the world a more eco-friendly environment to live in.

the government are to review the level of subsidies they provide on people having solar panels installed

Is it possible that the government will significantly reduce subsidies on solar panels being installed in January 2016?

Apparently, however, the Department of Energy and Climate Change is spending more than they would like in helping the country meet these targets resulting in it being announced that a review of subsidies is to be undertaken that could see subsidies reduce by not far off 90% from January 2016. If these subsidies were reduced by such a large percentage this could have a significant impact on people deciding to have solar panels installed on their roofs and that would not be good news for the industry nor, one would have thought, for the environment.

We have already seen a lowering of support for large solar farms being built in the UK yet you would have thought that some solar panel farms could be located in places that are not too visible to members of the public by being hidden by trees and various other planting.

Although many people in the UK are keen supporters of reducing carbon emissions, let’s not forget that most people want to be able to achieve this without any significant impact on their savings/monthly expenditure. Although many people have a capital outlay when having solar photovoltaic panels installed on the roofs of their homes and commercial premises they do so in the knowledge that, within a reasonable timescale, they should recoup that outlay and start to see some “payback” by a reduction in their electricity bills.

Therefore, surely it is important that any review of solar power incentives takes this into account so that homeowners are still prepared to consider having solar panels placed on their roofs or ground mounted panels in their back gardens. We will keep you updated on any developments in respect of the above.

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China Building Largest Solar Power Plant In The World

China is constructing the biggest solar power plant in the world in the Gobi Desert that is the largest desert in Asia covering part of Mongolia and China. The plant will cover an area of 10 square miles that, we are sure you will agree, is a huge project.

China is building the largest solar power plant in the world in the Gobi Desert

The largest solar power station in the world is being constructed in the Gobi Desert

It is estimated that the solar power plant will be capable of generating around 200 megawatts of solar power. This amount of energy could be capable of providing power to as many as one million homes. Obviously, China has a huge population but this plant will be of tremendous benefit to a significant number of people.

A plant of this size will no doubt make a huge contribution in reducing the volume of carbon emissions in China that the population of that country will no doubt wholeheartedly welcome as certain areas are renowned for their extremely high levels of smog. It is also expected to make a significant reduction in the use of coal to help generate electricity. China would like to be in a position by 2030 of being capable of reducing such emissions by as much as 20%. This plant will no doubt be a big help in this target hopefully being met.

The building of the plant will no doubt provide work for some of those people experienced in the construction industry. It may also mean that more jobs are required in the solar power manufacturing sector.

Let us hope that we continue to see large solar power construction schemes being taken forward in other countries around the world as it will no doubt require the collective support of us all to do everything that can be done to achieve global renewable energy targets in the coming years. For instance, solar farms can play a big part in providing renewable energy as well as solar panels being fitted to the roofs of residential properties and commercial buildings.

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Hillary Clinton Has Big Plans For Solar Power

If you follow American politics you will be aware that Hillary Clinton, wife of ex-president Bill Clinton, is running to be the Democratic Party’s choice to try to become President of the USA in 2016. Apparently, she is particularly keen to significantly increase solar panel capacity in the USA should she be successful in moving into the White House.

If Hillary Clinton becomes President of the USA she wishes an additional half a billion solar panels to be fitted to homes in the USA within 4 years.

Hillary Clinton intends to have an extra 500 million solar panels installed within 4 years should be elected President of the USA.

It would be her intention to have in excess of 500 million solar panels installed across the country within a period of four years from being elected. That is an awful lot of solar panels to have fitted in such a short period of time and will presumably create extra jobs in the industry in the country.

Those extra solar panels equate to an increase of around 700% in the number of solar panels presently installed. It is forecast that that sort of increase could, in due course, see renewable energy sources generate a minimum of 33% of the USA’s electricity that, we are sure you will agree, is a considerable amount. Mrs Clinton also wishes to see renewable energy providing power to all homes in the USA by the end of her second term.

It will be interesting to see, if she does become President, if she is able to achieve these goals. Support will no doubt be required from government by way of incentivisation. If those targets are met then it will no doubt go a long way towards helping the world reduce its carbon emissions and that has to be a positive factor.

What happens in America can sometimes impact on decisions made in the UK so it will be interesting to observe if our government responds in a positive way from the solar power industry’s point of view should she become President and put measures in place to install as many solar panels as she intends to do in the coming years.

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The UK’s First Carbon Positive Home

A new three bedroomed detached house in Bridgend in Wales has been designed and constructed in such a way that it has become the first carbon positive home to be built in the UK. It incorporates a variety of eco-friendly features and benefits such as solar panels, LED lighting and a heat pump.

solar panels have been built into the structure of the roof in a carbon positive home in Bridgend

A new carbon positive home is using solar panels incorporated into the construction of the roof.

The solar panels have been incorporated into the south-facing roof. There is a battery to provide power to the home when not directly using energy provided by the sun through the solar panels such as in an evening.

There are many features to help improve the energy efficiency of the property and also reduce carbon emissions such as insulated render and panels. Low carbon cement has been used in its construction. It has an air heating system that uses the rays of the sun.

It is claimed that more electricity can be sent to the National Grid than the house will use. Presumably, this will provide an additional welcome source of income. It is interesting to note that the cost of building this home is in line with the cost of the construction of social housing.

The battery and solar power is capable of powering the combined hot water, air ventilation and heating system as well as the electric power system that looks after the heat pump, lighting in the home and the appliances the occupants will use.

We are sure that you will agree this is an interesting move forward in the construction of properties here in the UK. If more homes are built in this way it will no doubt lead to the UK getting that much closer to achieving its renewable energy and carbon emission targets by 2020. Of course, it will also be good for the solar panel industry here in this country if a significant number of properties similar to this are constructed.

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