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Investing In Solar Energy

There are more ways to invest in solar power than just having solar panels installed on the roof of your home or business premises. There are no doubt many people in the UK that cannot afford to spend a few thousand pounds on an installation or, for whatever reason, do not want solar panels visible on their roof or ground-mounted in their back garden.

there are other ways of investing in solar power than by having solar panels fitted

There are more ways to invest in solar power than by having solar panels fitted – Image credit: Elliott Brown.

That does not mean to say that such people are not supportive of renewable energy – in fact many would love to be seen to be doing their bit towards helping reduce carbon emissions. So, what else could they do to help the UK meet their renewable energy targets as 2020 gets forever nearer?

Well, an option open to people is to invest some of their own funds along with many other investors in renewable energy schemes through a crowd funding platform. One such company that is currently seeking funds for the Engynious Schools scheme is Abundance Generation.

People are able to invest from only £5 with an annual fixed return of 6.7% rising to 7% with the Early Bird bonus. The income is paid half yearly for a period of 19 years.

The Engynious Schools project is involved in the ownership and management of solar panel arrays on school buildings. To date, 19 schools are benefitting from such arrays. It does not cost the schools anything to have the solar panels installed and they have no maintenance costs. It is forecast that the schools can save as much as 30% on their electricity bills with the savings made potentially being available to be used to help the schools fund other things that they may need. The project receives funds from the feed in tariff scheme.

Obviously, if you wish to consider the above investment you should make further enquiries yourself and seek appropriate advice, if you feel it is necessary, taking into account all aspects of such a scheme including any risks to your capital.

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Old RAF Base Could House Largest Solar Farm In The UK

RAF Faldingworth is not too far from Market Rasen in Lincolnshire. The airfield was used in the Second World War by bombers and later stored nuclear weapons. Interestingly, in the 1990s the airfield was used to train riot police.

It would now appear that it is going to be put to good use as planning permission has been granted to create a solar farm that could become the biggest one of its kind anywhere in the UK. That is, of course, assuming that another site, in the meantime, does not beat it to achieving such a record!

The UK will need more solar farms to be built to help it acheive its renewable energy and carbon emission targets.

Solar farms are playing a significant part in the UK striving towards meeting its renewable energy target – Image credit: Michael Mees.

It is expected that the solar farm will have around 196,000 solar panels installed at the airfield. We are sure you will agree that is a huge development. In fact, that number of solar photovoltaic panels could cover an area of around the size of 210 rugby pitches.
Those solar panels are apparently capable of producing 50 MW of capacity providing enough electricity for anything up to 12,000 residential properties. It is felt that the site will have limited visual impact in the community.

You may well have read in recent months of the concerns expressed by a number of people about the siting of large solar farms in general as some felt they were going to be a blight on the countryside. The British government were keen to ensure that planning authorities took the views of the community into account. It is interesting to read in the case of RAF Faldingworth that there was only one public objection received in respect of this proposed solar farm.

Obviously, solar farms are a major contributor towards the UK meeting its renewable energy and carbon emission targets as we head towards 2020 so the above should be seen as a positive step in the right direction.

Any of our readers’ thoughts would be most welcome.

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Solar PV Strategy Announced

The UK Government has recently announced details of its solar power strategy going forward which makes for interesting reading. This is at a time when the carmaker Jaguar can lay claim to having the biggest array of solar panels fitted to their factory’s roof in Staffordshire – around 21,000 solar panels.

Greg Barker wants to see an increase in the uptake of solar panels

Greg Barker – Image credit: University of Salford Press Office.

It is the opinion of the Government that although there has been a significant reduction in prices within the solar industry, this downward trend must continue if the UK is to achieve its renewable energy targets.

At the present time just over half a million homes have had solar panels installed but the Government is hoping that will double by the end of next year. At the moment we have 2.7GWp of solar power capacity but Greg Barker feels that there is the capability to increase that by as much as 20GWp over the next 10 years.

The report refers to their being around a quarter of a million hectares of roof space on commercial buildings that face south that provides tremendous potential for further solar panel installations. Businesses must be encouraged to make more use of this space. The Government intend to help remove the red tape to enable rooftop solar panels to be installed on the likes of warehouses, car parks, supermarkets and many other industrial buildings.

Apparently, the Government are going to have solar panels installed on various buildings that they own including hospitals and schools to help towards meeting targets.

The Government feel that the domestic market for solar panels is still in its early stages with things like the Green Deal encouraging greater uptake by the British public.

You may wish to study the report produced by the Department of Energy & Climate Change in greater detail. It is entitled: “UK Solar PV Strategy: Part 2. Delivering a Brighter Future”.

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Southend Airport Installs Solar Panels

This may come as a big surprise to many of you but London Southend Airport used to be the third busiest one in this country going back to the 1960s and 1970s prior to London Stansted taking over this position. Since being taken over in 2008, the airport has had some major improvements and the number of passengers using it has been on the increase with almost one million people using it last year.

almost 500 solar panels have been installed on the curved terminal building roof at Southend airport

London Southend Airport – Image credit: Dan Davison.

You will be interested to note that just under 500 solar panels have been installed on the roof of the terminal building that will provide power for various outlets in the terminal such as shops and food outlets. It is forecast that the solar panels will help reduce carbon emissions by about 1,000 tonnes that will help in the UK’s endeavours to hit renewable energy targets by 2020.

The airport would appear to be keen on renewable energy schemes as they also use escalators that start slowly, special glass to maximise the use of natural light and have carried out certain improvements to the building’s insulation. The airport is to be commended for the work that they have done to improve the environment. There will no doubt be cost savings made over a period of 20 years in respect of electricity costs to make the installation of these solar panels a further benefit.

Apparently, this solar photovoltaic panel installation is the biggest one of its kind to be put in at an airport in the UK. The roof of the terminal building is in fact curved. It will provide an interesting view for the many passengers that arrive by plane and take off each day. Gatwick has just over 200 solar panels in place.

We would welcome being notified about any other similar solar panel installations at airports around the UK that you happen to hear about.

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Solar Panel Car Park Canopies Planned For Nottingham

Back in June 2013, we reported on Hull City Council installing 200 solar panels on the roof of one of the city’s multi-storey car parks to provide some electricity for its council buildings. We are also aware of solar panels being used to provide energy for battery charging points for electric cars here in the UK.

solar photovoltaic panels could be utilised to provide protection for cars from the sun light as well as generate electricity

Will the UK see an increasing use of solar panels in the above way?

Well, now we hear that Nottingham City Council has given its approval for two of its public car parks to have solar panel canopies fitted to provide a significant amount of electricity. One of the schemes will involve the installation of 4,000 solar panels at the park and ride site in Queen’s Drive, Nottingham. The other involves the installation of 3,000 solar photovoltaic panels at the park and ride site at Colwick Racecourse, Daleside Road, Nottingham. Collectively, the area these solar panels will cover would take up the size of around one and a half rugby pitches.

These are two huge schemes and would appear to have been well thought out by the council. After all, they will not only produce renewable energy but will also presumably provide welcome cover for cars during sunny weather. It is forecast that the Queen’s Drive scheme alone will provide benefits amounting to around £121,000 for Nottingham City Council each year.

Not only will there be a financial benefit to the council but there will be a reduction in carbon emissions thus making a contribution to the UK’s target to reduce such emissions. Also, the Queens’s Drive scheme is forecast to provide around half of the energy required to power the city’s fleet of electric buses that is expected to grow in the next few years.

So, we are sure that you will no doubt all agree that Nottingham City Council are to be commended for their forward-thinking attitude towards renewable energy.

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Wolseley UK Installs 8,000 Solar Panels

Wolseley UK Ltd is the UK arm of Wolseley PLC that is well known as being one of the world’s biggest suppliers of building products. The operation’s head office in this country is situated in Leamington Spa in Warwickshire. The business is made up of several well-known brand names such as Plumb Center, Pipe Center and Parts Center to name but three.

The Plumb Centre is a part of Wolseley with the later having recently installed solar panels on their National Distribution Centre in Leamington Spa

The Plumb Center is part of Wolseley UK and sell solar panel systems

Over the last few months, Wolseley UK has been involved in the installation of just over 8,000 solar photovoltaic panels on its roof in Leamington Spa. This appears to have been a huge project as it has covered an area in excess of 13,000 square meters that is not far of the area that two rugby pitches would take up.

It is being estimated that the solar system will have an annual capacity of around 2 megawatts of electricity that would provide sufficient power for about 450 homes so it is a significant contributor to renewable energy. The solar power system is capable of providing more than enough electricity for the National Distribution Centre in Leamington Spa. The forecast annual reduction in carbon emissions is 1,280 tonnes and the payback term is around 6.8 years.

Of course, this solar development will not only be of financial benefit to the company but it will add weight behind the likes of the Plumb Center selling a variety of solar panel systems to the trade and public.

The company are to be commended for this huge installation and let us hope that we see many such new developments crop up in the coming months/years as they can only be positive for the renewable energy sector and go some way towards meeting the UK’s carbon emission reduction targets.

We would welcome receiving any news of similar solar panel system developments scheduled to take place in the UK over the following months so that we can report on them.

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Chinese Solar Company Defaults On Bond

It is well known that China has been going through some difficult trading times as far as solar panels are concerned, becoming embroiled in trade wars with the likes of the USA and countries within the European Union. However, it was only last month that we commented on what, at that time, appeared to be a world breaking record for the amount of solar capacity installed last year in China

china is heavily involved in the solar panel industry and has been going through difficult trading times

China has been going through a difficult trading period for solar panels

Therefore, it is concerning to hear about a Chinese solar company apparently defaulting on a bond at a time when it seemed that China may have been “seeing the light at the end of the tunnel”.

Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science & Technology Co Ltd is a Chinese company involved in solar power. Their main interest is involved in researching, manufacturing and the sale of solar cell modules.

Apparently, the company has been unable to meet an interest payment of 89.8 million yuan (around £8.7 million) on a corporate bond of 1 billion yuan (almost £98 million) that it took out back in March 2012 for a period of 5 years. This is the first time that there has ever been a default on a corporate bond issued in China. It is reported that the company paid only 4 million yuan (around £391,000) of the interest payment.

It remains to be seen if the government in China step in to assist in some capacity as it has done within the solar panel sector in other ways bearing in mind the importance the solar sector has to China and of course the rest of the world. It will be interesting to see if the above leads other companies in China to default on such bonds.

Apparently, the company could sell some of its solar farms in different parts of the world to raise funds as the value of these would far outweigh the amount outstanding on the interest payment.

We will continue to monitor developments.

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Uganda Looking To Provide More Citizens With Access To Electricity

There are a number of countries within the vast African continent that do not provide all their citizens with access to mains electricity. In fact, around 600 million such residents do not benefit from this which people in developed countries like the UK tend to take for granted. There cannot be many homes in this country that do not have mains electricity.

greater use is to be made of solar panels in Uganda

There are a number of villages in Uganda that do not have the benefit of mains electricity

It is interesting to note that Uganda is looking to do something about this situation in their country for some of the population. We are sure that those people will welcome such news.
Apparently, pre-paid electricity is going to be made available to an increasing number of Ugandans and they will be using solar power to help in the scheme. Of course, Uganda will no doubt benefit from considerable more days of sunshine than we do in the UK that will aid the generation of this type of renewable energy.

There are certain villages that rely on kerosene to provide lighting that surely cannot be the healthiest of substances. Having said that, there are some homes that have solar power systems in certain parts of the country.

The pay as you go solar power system is a joint venture between MTN Uganda and a company from the USA called Fenix International. The ReadyPay kit consists of a solar panel, a battery pack with a couple of USB ports, a couple of adaptor ports for car lighters plus some items for charging phones and a selection of lights. You will be interested to note that there are other bigger kits available so that other things can be powered using solar panels.

One of the benefits about this scheme is that someone can pay for enough electricity to power the things that they feel are important to them as well as not over-committing themselves financially.

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New John Lewis Store in York Has Solar Panels Fitted

John Lewis is the biggest department store retailer here in the UK having been trading for around 150 years. On the 10th April 2014 it is to open a brand new store in York that will be its 41st store in the country at a cost of about £15,000,000 covering an area of around 130,000 square feet. The store will provide the usual products that you would expect from a company of their stature and there are also two restaurants for the use of visitors.

john lewis have had solar panels fitted to their York store

John Lewis’s department store in Oxford Street London

It probably does not come as a surprise to you to read that energy costs are a significant expenditure for many retailers with many shops keeping lighting on in various parts of the outlet 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Many retailers have air conditioning for the comfort of customers that visit their stores and, of course, sophisticated heating systems. Therefore, anything that can be done to reduce this expenditure has got to be welcomed.

John Lewis’s new store in York has been fitted with solar panels on the roof by a company called Think Renewable Energy that will go some way towards helping John Lewis meet its target of reducing carbon emissions by 15% by its year ending 2020/21. The 96.5kWp solar panel system has an annual capability of 81,925 kWh of clean energy. It is forecast that the store will remove 34 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year from the earth’s atmosphere and save the company in the region of £17,000 through both savings on its annual electricity bill and through the Feed in Tariff scheme.

This is another example of a major retailer looking to make a contribution towards helping the UK achieve its renewable energy targets by 2020. During 2012 and 2013, we reported on Sainsbury’s supermarket chain having invested heavily in the installation of solar panels in recent years.

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Brighton Energy Co-operative Invests In Solar Power

We hope that you agree it is great to see communities working together to provide renewable energy whether it is through the likes of wind turbines, solar power or some other means. We have previously reported on many such schemes but do like to keep our readers as up to date as possible.

Shoreham Port has installed solar panels

Shoreham Port is supportive of renewable energy

Anything that can be done to reduce carbon emissions has to be welcomed and supported. Such schemes are only going to help the UK towards achieving its renewable energy targets by 2020.

Brighton Energy Co-operative has been involved in the funding of the installation of solar panels on one of the sheds at Shoreham Port and is in the process of raising further funds within the community to have solar panels installed on another building at the port. Shoreham Port, located on the south coast, provides a variety of services including handling both the export and import of cargo, services for fishing and leisure customers and a dry docking facility.

This installation has been placed on Shed 10 at the port, one of their warehouses, and is the second array that the port has had installed. This latest one is capable of generating 214kWp of capacity. It involved the installation of 880 solar panels. The electricity is going to be utilised to provide power for various operations at the port including a repair workshop and offices. This latest phase brings the total number of solar panels installed at the port to in excess of 1,200 and they are forecasting to have 800 more fitted in 2014.

So far, Brighton Energy Co-operative has been able to raise in excess of £400,000 through the community with someone being able to purchase as few as 300 shares at £1 each up to a maximum of 20,000 shares. It is projected that investors may receive a return of 5% pa.

We will continue to keep you updated about any similar schemes.

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