Brighton area has 9400 Solar Installations – Govt figures. Recent figures show that the BN postcode area has been kicking out solar PV capacity. More than 9435 buildings across the BN area now have solar. That’s around 36MW of clean solar power Brighton Energy Coop owns 3.3% of our region’s solar capacity (with 1.35MW) – our new projects take us over the 4% mark!
The first wave of new projects has been getting underway without the support of the Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs), a subsidy regime that closed to all new generating capacity last year. For example, in September Anesco cut the ribbon on the UK’s first subsidy-free solar farm, a 10MW project hailed by its creators as “a landmark development [that] paves the way for a sustainable future, where subsidies are no longer needed or relied upon”. Since then, other projects have gained traction, including plans for a 350MW subsidy-free solar farm in Kent. Meanwhile, onshore wind is finding another route to market through merchant generation, and old wind farms are being upgraded with larger, more powerful turbines, driving inward investment into the UK. Only yesterday renewables developer Vattenfall announced plans to sell power from its proposed South Kyle wind farm in Scotland through corporate power purchase agreements (PPA).
Northumbrian Water has followed its new green energy supply deal with renewables giant Ørsted by revealing plans for 10 new solar farms at its sites across the region. The company announced yesterday it has teamed up with solar specialist Lightsource BP to work on plans to install and operate 10 ground-mounted solar farms at its water and sewage works. The companies said the projects are expected to deliver up to 10GWh of clean power a year – enough to power more than 3,000 homes. The market for corporate solar installations has contracted sharply in recent years in the wake of steep cuts to government subsidies. But developers are increasingly confident that falling technology costs and a growing appreciation of the environmental and energy security benefits solar can bring are driving a gradual revival across the market. The latest deal comes after Lightsource BP, which rebranded late last year after oil giant BP bought a 43 per cent stake in the firm, announced it had formed a new clean energy investment fund manager in India in partnership with Everstone Group.
Really disruptive technologies tend to be fairly rare in the renewable energy market. However, the heat batteries developed by Sunamp, which specialises in this area, look to be capable of being more disruptive than most of the innovations one sees in this space. Andrew Bissell, the CEO of Sunamp, claims that his products are highly likely to make conventional hot water cylinders obsolete in a relatively short space of time. The technology is now in its third iteration and is barely a third of the size of a typical hot water cylinder, such as households use for hot water. However, the company is currently prototyping much larger versions capable of scaling up to provide the heating needs of commercial companies from palette-sized to container-scale. In 2013, the Department of Energy and Climate Change gave Sunamp a contract to put the thermal storage system, alongside off-peak electricity and air-source heat pumps, into seven homes as a proof of concept trial. That was very successful heating the homes at half the cost of natural gas. The Sunamp put heat batteries into 650 homes. These were in two housing associations, East Lothian Housing and Castle Rock Edinvar.
Budget cuts and increasing pressure on services have compelled Local Authorities to think of different ways to fill the ever-growing funding gap. Councils have been taking different approaches to this problem, depending on local circumstances. Commercial investment boards set up by local authorities now scrutinise ways to generate long-term revenues whilst maximising the benefits for local residents and businesses. These range from investment in commercial property and regeneration to one local authority even setting up its own bank! The focus on sustainable income generation is now acute with the number of conferences and events devoted to the subject testament to this. Renewable energy offers massive potential for local authority investment and support – and it’s an area not unfamiliar to the public sector, with councils being instrumental in setting up the first municipal power stations (Swindon had one in 1903). Today’s energy sector may look different but still provides the same opportunity to support local residents and businesses and create long-term revenues through investment. Public Power Solutions (PPS) was set up by Swindon Borough Council specifically to address this opportunity. Our first schemes focussed on developing solar on council-owned buildings, moving on to larger-scale solar farms on the edge of Swindon financed by the private sector. We developed a 62MW solar park for the Science Museum on a former airfield in Wroughton which is now owned by a number of local authority investors from around the UK.