This section contains our current news releases and comment on matters affecting the solar PV, solar heating and small wind turbine industries. We are always happy to hear from journalists with a serious interest in our sector.

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23 October 2018

Photon Energy winners in residential rooftop category of SPP awards 2018

Photon Energy are delighted to have won best ‘Residential Rooftop Solar Installation of the Year’ at this year’s prestigious Solar Power Portal Awards. Held annually, these much-coveted awards recognise the best in industry across a variety of categories.

Photon are proud to have picked up a trophy for the 320 kWp solar PV installation at Roborough Eco Town in Plymouth, designed by ZeroC, an award winning builder of sustainable homes. Roborough Eco homes have been designed to be a low carbon community of 86 houses, located in Roborough, approximately five miles to the north of Plymouth city centre,

Plymouth City Council provided the seven-acre site with a planning requirement that the homes achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions when considering ‘regulated’ energy (energy used for heating and hot water, lighting and pumps and fans). The solar PV installed is playing a significant role in helping the developer achieving these targets.

Photon Energy won the tender to install the 320 kWp of solar PV at Roborough in a competitive tender for ZeroC. Due to the location and size of the project, Wessex ECOEnergy, based in Dorset, were subcontracted to assist with the installation.

The houses, as part of the eco-friendly design, feature large asymmetric, pitched roofs that have been mounted with up to 24 solar PV modules. The larger sections of the roofs have been almost completely covered with in-roof panels, orientated in the optimal direction in for maximum energy generation.

Viridian Solar Clearline Fusion integrated modules were selected for this project as the seamless appearance of the in-roof panels was ideally suited to the modern aesthetic of the homes. In addition to their sleek appearance, the Viridian Solar PV modules benefit from being a high quality product, requiring a simple installation process. Viridian Clearline Fusion 250 Wp modules have been installed for the majority of the houses, with 270 Wp panels specified for a small number of houses, to maximise the output of the PV on limited roof areas.

Sofar Solar inverters have been installed, with a variety of different models incorporated to suit the mix of system sizes.

Rikki Baker, Project Engineer of Photon Energy said: “We were delighted to be appointed to install the sizeable solar PV systems on these genuinely zero carbon homes. It has been a welcome change to work on a development where every aspect of energy efficiency and sustainability has been considered from the outset, delivering enormous long term benefits to the residents.”

Councillor Chris Penberthy, Shadow Cabinet Member for Cooperatives and Housing for Plymouth City Council, said: “Once again this shows Plymouth is at the forefront of providing modern, energy efficient, affordable housing for local people. This unique project will be the UK’s first large scale, zero carbon community that delivers direct economic benefits with sustainable jobs.”

* photo credit Viridian Solar

29 June 2018

Tesla Powerpacks installed for MSP

Photon Energy, one of the few UK-based Tesla Powerpack certified companies, was recently appointed to install four energy storage units at Manchester Science Park.  

Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP) has undertaken a significant investment in an advanced energy strategy that includes the installation of the Tesla Powerpacks as well as two EV charging points at their flagship headquarters - the Bright Building, located at Manchester Science Park.

This pioneering project received a grant from Innovate UK’s Internet of Things smart city demonstrator project, CityVerve, in which MSP is a lead partner.

The installation initially involved employing groundworks contractors to install a concrete plinth including ducting for cables and a paved area for maintenance access. Heavy lifting equipment was hired to hoist the 2.2 tonne batteries into position. The batteries were then connected to the inverter using Tesla’s pre-fabricated wireway system. The inverter output was connected to the building’s LV supply via a G59 relay that provides protection functions. 

Suitable meters were installed to monitor parameters such as energy flows into and out of the battery, energy supply to the whole site and frequency of the supply.

MSP is hoping that by installing the Tesla Powerpacks, they will be insulated from shifting commercial tariffs and that the adoption of green technologies will substantially reduce their carbon footprint. Additionally, the Powerpacks can provide a back-up power system, should primary power fail. 

The battery system has been designed to be scalable, with the option to add up to 16 additional Powerpacks, and within 12 months, MSP envisage that the Bright Building will be an energy island - self-sufficient and operating without reliance on the National Grid. 

MSP will be closely monitoring the cost savings and CO2 reduction, with a view to installing further units at their other buildings and developments.

Of the install, Rolf Oldach, Director of Photon Energy, said: “Building on our experience with previous Powerpack projects, we had prepared as much as possible off site, allowing us to complete the mechanical and electrical installation, including metering, within a week.”

Tom Renn, Managing Director of MSP, said in their press release:

“As the only UK science and technology park operator to be offering this kind of advanced energy innovation, it’s something we’re understandably very excited about.

MSP and Bruntwood are committed to investing in our buildings, utilising cutting-edge technology to both improve the experience of our customers and reduce our carbon footprint."

28 September 2018

242 kWp solar PV for NW Bicester Eco Town

Photon Energy has installed 242 kWp of solar PV at North West Bicester, an eco-town that was recently awarded Bioregional’s One Planet Living Status in recognition of its commitment to sustainable living.

Photon Energy won the tender to install the solar PV at Elmsbrook, phase 2 of the project, on 67 houses and one block of flats, in a competitive tender for regular client, Hill. This phase provides a mix of homes, from two bedroom starter properties to five bedroom executive family homes for private sale, as well as a number of affordable homes managed by the developer, A2Dominion.

North West Bicester is one of the UK’s first eco-towns governed by Central Government’s Eco-town Planning Policy Statement. This flagship project, is the first of its kind and scale, and aims to establish a vibrant and sustainable community, designed to be good for the environment and the local economy. The masterplan has specified a total of 6,000 true zero carbon homes to be built on a 1,000 acre site during a number of strategic timed phases.

Each home features a substantial solar PV array, sized between 1.75 and 5.25 kWp. Viridian Solar Clearline Fusion integrated roof panels were chosen for their high quality performance combined with a sleek and uncluttered aesthetic. The PV systems were carefully designed to consider the orientation of the roofs and any shading on the terraced properties. Maximising the efficiency of the solar PV was a key consideration at the planning stage, so consequently, approximately two thirds of the homes on this development feature south facing roofs.

As integrated roof panels were not suitable for the flat-roofed block of flats, the 11.96 kWp installation on this building featured instead, an array of 46 Solar World 260 Wp modules.

A combined total of approximately 1,000 panels were installed across all the properties, generating an estimated 219,236 kWh per year and saving 113.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Rikki Baker, Project Engineer of Photon Energy said: “It was a fantastic opportunity for us to work on this project where we were tasked with installing as much solar PV as possible and homes were designed to be zero carbon.”

Narinder Jheeta, Technical Coordinator at Hill said: “We were pleased to be working with Photon Energy on this flagship project at North West Bicester. Their project managers were very professional which helped the installation process go smoothly and keep to schedule. We have a long standing relationship with Photon Energy and look forward to working with them on future projects.”

* photo credit Viridian Solar

20 April 2018

BAM Energy funds 140 kWp solar PV array for Three Rivers Academy

Photon Energy has installed a substantial solar PV array at state-of-the-art Three Rivers Academy in Hersham, Surrey, recently built by BAM Construction.

The Three Rivers Academy, a new secondary school in Surrey, has been designed to be a single, 16,000m² building, hosting the best of modern education facilities, whilst also promoting a feeling of community and belonging. It boasts state-of-the-art facilities including specialist classrooms for science and technology, distributed ICT provision, a large library and a range of drama studios and sports halls.

The 140 kWp PV installation was incorporated into the building design to help the school meet the renewable energy target required for achieving planning permission. The system will generate approximately 125,520 kWh of electricity per year and reduce carbon emissions by 65.1 tonnes per annum.

BAM Energy, a new division of BAM’s facilities management division – BAM FM, was appointed to fund the installation, releasing a significant sum from the construction budget. The cost of installing and operating the solar PV will be recovered through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) where the school (managed by The Howard Partnership Trust) will buy power generated by the solar PV from BAM Energy for the next 20 years. The PPA underwent scrutiny by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), to ensure the fixed unit cost was competitive against grid power costs.

Photon Energy worked through the design process with BAM Energy and BAM Design in order to create a highly efficient solar PV system, with enhanced safety features and performance monitoring capability.

We installed 467 Premium series Bisol 300 Wp solar in a single array on a flat-roofed area of the building. For optimal performance SolarEdge provided an optimiser per pair of modules, linked to a Fire Fighter Gateway. The system will automatically shut down should the fire alarm go off. The high specification system also incorporates a SolarEdge GSM that connects the inverters to the internet, enabling continuous performance monitoring, right down to module level.

Jenny Palfreyman, Senior Engineer at Photon Energy said “Working closely with BAM Design enabled us to provide the right technical solution for not only the school but BAM Energy who have a long term PPA with the trust.”

Reid Cunningham, Strategic Development Director of BAM Energy said: “We worked in collaboration with Photon Energy to ensure the optimal design and performance of the solar array could be achieved. We’re confident that the high performance Bisol modules used in conjunction with SolarEdge optimisers will deliver the best solution for all parties involved."