Posts Tagged ‘photo-voltaic’

Solar the cheapest form of energy?

A December report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance found that unsubsidised solar is beginning to see lower costs than wind and other forms of energy, becoming one of the cheapest forms of energy. While the lowest solar costs are being seen in countries such India and Chile (where it is now about half the cost of coal), 2017 looks to be the year that solar becomes truly mainstream.

Windy up north

Not to be outdone, wind generated enough power to supply Scotland for four straight days at the end of December (including Christmas day itself), the longest period when wind supply has matched demand.

The strong end to the year resulted in wind power contributing more to the UK supply in 2016 than coal for the first time, 11.5% of total UK output compared to 9.2%.

However, the government’s withdrawal of subsidies for new onshore wind power has resulted in criticism that one of the lowest cost forms of generation is being denied the support given to far more costly technologies including offshore wind and nuclear.

2017 Christmas in the dark?

The British Infrastructure Group has warned that the National Grid’s buffer between supply and demand could fall to as little as 0.1% next winter, resulting in power failures, particularly if there’s unusually severe weather.

At the moment the supply-demand margin is 1.1%, increasing to 6.6% if emergency measures are implemented.

These measures include paying power stations that would otherwise be closed to be kept on stand-by, businesses and other large consumers using emergency generators and old coal-powered stations being put back into operation, all of which add around £30 a year to a residential energy bill.

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Under current planning regulations businesses must obtain planning permission for photo-voltaic arrays of over 50kW (around 200 panels), but from 15 April this is due to change.

According to Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, the threshold for commercial installations requiring planning permission will increase to 1MW, or around 4,000 panels (although safeguards to protect local amenity will still apply).

The change in regulation should make it easier to install PV on factories, warehouses, office and other commercial buildings, in turn helping to generate clean electricity and saving money, particularly as the cost of PV continues to fall.

 

 

 

A new report by Kingspan Energy claims that the average medium/large British business could save over £31,000 a year by installing fully-funded photo-voltaic (PV) roof-top systems.

The research (using performance data from existing PV installations as well as government figures) also maintains that installing PV on 61% of the 2,500km2 south-facing commercial roof space would generate the equivalent power demand of UK plc.

Fully-funded PV installations avoid the need for businesses to come up with the upfront capital cost of installation, opening up the market for on-site generation. They usually work along the following lines…

  • the business agrees a 25 year lease of their roof space to the PV provider/installer
  • the provider installs and maintains the system, guaranteeing minimum levels of performance
  • the business benefits from the energy generated by the PV system, lowering bills immediately
  • the installer receives the government-paid Feed-in-Tariff which funds the project and provides them with an ROI

These funded PV installations can work very well for those organisations with the right type of south-facing roof space, as they result in energy cost savings straight away with no capital expenditure.