West Sussex County Council is to invest up to £3 million in the roll-out of solar across schools in the region in a scheme intended to create new revenue for the council and save the schools millions. Following a successful pilot in 2015, the local authority’s Environmental & Community Services Select Committee approved an expanded programme to install solar PV systems in up to 52 additional schools in 2017/18. The original plans put forward by the ECSSC suggested between 38 to 48 schools however this could now increase, although they were unable to confirm an exact number.
Thousands of new and existing homes are to be fitted with a range of low carbon technologies including integrated solar PV and battery storage systems as part of landmark funding agreement for the Swansea Bay area of Wales. UK and Welsh government ministers signed the Swansea Bay City Region (SBCR) deal on 20 March which secured £1.3 billion for the region, one of the biggest investments to ever be secured in Wales. Among the various programmes to be in initiated using the SBCR funds is the Homes as Power Stations project to be led by Neath Port Talbot Council.
The Isles of Scilly are to be used as a test hub for smart energy technology in a £10.8 million project backed by the EU and Hitachi. The project will see rooftop solar panels and new energy management systems installed on 100 council-owned homes, about a tenth of the islands’ housing stock, with the households receiving discounted electricity. Ten of the homes will also be fitted with batteries or other technologies to help manage lags between supply and demand. A subsequent phase of the Smart Energy Islands project is expected to see electric cars deployed on the archipelago, with their batteries also used to help manage supply and demand. By 2025, the project aims to cut electricity bills by 40 per cent, meet 40 per cent of energy demand from renewables and for 40 per cent of vehicles on the islands to be either electric or low carbon.
Stirling Council completed the 1,500th installation of solar PV on its housing stock earlier this week and paved the way for battery storage to follow its lead. The install was completed on a new build bungalow in Bannockburn earlier this week as part of a wider renewable investment scheme launched to alleviate fuel poverty and reduce the council’s carbon footprint. To date more than £8 million has been spent on delivering the solar rollout, and the council has now committed to invest an additional £4.25 million over the next two years to install solar on an additional 1,200 homes. And battery storage technologies could also feature in future installs should the results of an initial pilot scheme in 50 homes be deemed a success.
Transport for London (TfL) is preparing the imminent launch of a tendering process for new solar installations on its own buildings, Solar Power Portal understands. Plans for a roll-out of new solar PV are currently being drawn up by the network’s energy and carbon strategy team, which will use the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) RE:FIT programme to procure solar and some energy efficiency measures.
How can we connect solar photovoltaics (PV) directly to railways to power electric trains? That’s the question my charity 10:10 and researchers at Imperial College’s Energy Futures Lab are trying to answer. Electric trains are by far the best long distance transport mode when it comes to carbon emissions – at least when their electricity comes from renewable sources like solar or wind. But the UK’s ageing power network poses a significant challenges to any bid to decarbonise road and rail that relies on the grid. There are now swathes of the British countryside where it is impossible to plug in any new solar, wind or hydropower without being hit with a whopping bill for the full costs of local network reinforcement. Faced with this constraint, and squeezed by government subsidy cuts, UK solar developers have started to focus on ways to generate power directly for consumption, rather than exporting it to the grid. With the right customers, solar developers can offer lower tariffs than the grid, while still earning more for their power than they would get from exporting it. Solar giant Lightsource, for example, recently signed a 25 year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Belfast airport that underwrote a neighbouring £5m solar farm, using a private wire to supply a quarter of the airport’s electricity needs. As an industrial client with high on-site daytime energy use and a structural reason to stay put, Network Rail has all of the features needed to support this kind of approach.
The National Trust is continuing its march towards self-sufficient energy generation, having produced 12% of its heat from on-site renewable energy sources in 2016 – four years ahead of Britain’s national renewable heat targets. The British conservation organisation has also drastically reduced its reliance on oil consumption, with a 50% drop on 2009 levels, as of December 2016.
Hounslow Council claimed in May 2016 that it had become the first local authority to incorporate battery storage into a solar project after investing £2 million to install a 1.73MW array atop Western International Market (WIM). In the first year alone, the project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 50% and earning the council £255,000 each year. Charles Pipe, energy manager at London Borough of Hounslow, said: “While the Government’s dramatic cuts will impact solar deployment, there are still options available to local authorities. All energy installations must meet specific criteria and have as close to a seven-year payback as possible. Solar can meet this and more – offering immediate savings and the potential for more in the future. “For our project at Hounslow, we expect to make several million in the next 20 years. It can and does work, councils simply need to understand that solar investment is no longer a risk.”
Seven primary schools in the Glasgow area are to be fitted with solar panels with a combined total capacity of 350kWp under plans by the city council to reduce emissions by 30% by 2020. Each of the schools will receive a 50kWp system to be installed by Campbell & Kennedy (C&K), which must design, install and connect the systems by the end of April 2017. A statement from Glasgow City Council said: “This project will enhance the council’s commitment to the sustainability and resilience of these schools whilst providing a practical teaching resource for pupils. “The 135 tonnes of CO2 that will be saved each year as a result of these installations demonstrates Glasgow City Council’s continuing aim in reducing our emissions by 30% by 2020.”
At a Warwickshire County Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the council supported proposals that would see an additional six solar farms installed across the county. The proposal is part of a larger scheme, which also sought to create a council-run energy company. The plans for the energy company were also backed by the cabinet and now need the support of the individual district and borough councils. If the energy company scheme is supported residents in Warwickshire could soon have an alternative to the ‘big six’ energy companies that supply gas and electric.