MAKING energy from the power of the sun seems like a no-brainer as the cost of electricity inexorably increases.
Photovoltaic (PV) cells convert sunlight directly into electricity which can be used in offices, shops and factories and even paid for under what is known as a feed-in tariff by the national grid.
The Carbon Trust says: “With feed-in tariffs, if you have enough space for installation, access to sunlight, and no risk of overshadowing from nearby buildings or trees, photovoltaics may be a viable choice for your project.”
PV cells cells don’t need direct sunlight to work – you can still generate some electricity even on a cloudy day. But the stronger the sunshine, the more electricity is produced.
Such a project is not without cost and issues such as planning permission and the strength of the roof must be added to the list of considerations.
Grants are available through the Carbon Trust for businesses which could help in certain circumstances.
The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit company that provides specialist support to business and the public sector to help cut carbon emissions, save energy and commercialise low carbon technologies.
It has looked at data from 28 case studies from the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Low Carbon Buildings Programme and its own work on refurbishments. The projects cover sectors including retail, education, offices and mixed use residential buildings.
The Carbon Trust can be contacted on 0800 085 2005 or visit www.carbontrust.co.uk/buildings
The trust says PVs are “reliable, low maintenance and silent. They are an efficient source of zero carbon electricity for new build and refurbishment projects.”
But there is a need to make sure that conditions are optimised.
The Carbon Trust has produced a report called A Place in the Sun – Lessons Learned From Designing Low Carbon Buildings With Photovoltaic Electricity Generation
In the report the trust says: “Ideally, PV arrays should be free from shade, face within 45 degrees of south and be inclined at an angle of 30 degrees of the horizontal plane. PVs work well for buildings where electricity is needed year-round in daylight hours, as electricity generated can contribute to a building’s daytime demands. If more electricity is generated than the building needs, this energy can be exported to the National Grid.”
If all the conditions are in your favour and you have the necessary funds to make the investment, solar power could really be a no-brainer!