Rotherham, Metropolitan, Borough, Council, Wellgate, car park, solar PV

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s Full Set

Whilst we have seen residential customers installing the complete set of solar PV, battery storage, and electric vehicle chargepoints, it’s something of a rarity at a larger scale.  Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, however, have just completed a £600k scheme installing electric vehicle charge points across the borough, combining this with solar PV and battery storage at some of the sites.  Steve Brown, Transportation Officer, explains: “We’ve been very interested in the potential to replace our diesel/petrol fleet with electric vehicles to reduce carbon emissions and address air quality in the borough.  But we were very aware that doing so would increase our electricity consumption, and nationally there’d be a problem generating the electricity.  So we have looked to manage these knock-on effects ourselves by installing an equivalent amount of solar PV at the same time to offset this.”  And it’s not just the amount of new electricity that was a concern: “We wanted to use batteries to store this sustainable energy for us to use when we needed it, rather than when it was available

Developing the Scheme

The flagship site in the programme is the Wellgate multi-storey car park, which features 5 dual Alfen Eve charge points, 87kW of solar PV and 3 Tesla Powerwall’s for storage.  The solar PV was hosted in a unique way, on the top deck of the multi-storey.  “It’s an odd feature of almost every multi-storey car park in the country that no-one parks on the top-deck”, says Steve.  “They’re massively underutilised assets, so we took the decision to close the top deck and use this space for generating solar electricity.

An additional five sites incorporated both solar PV and electric vehicle charge points.  Hellaby Depot, Rawmarsh Library, Riverside House, Rother Valley Country Park, and Thrybergh Country Park host 17 dual charge points and 141 kW of solar PV.

Aston Health Centre, Drummond Street car park, Walker Street car park and Wath Library are also home to dual chargepoints, increasing the coverage of the public EV charging network in the Rotherham Metropolitan area.

If we build it, they will come

The main difficulty we had was whether the scheme would work at all”, said Steve.  “There’s a certain amount of ‘If we build it, they will come’ when developing a chargepoint scheme.  But Rotherham does not have the same level of per capita income as parts of southeastern England, and we didn’t know how quickly the community here will take up EVs, as they are still more expensive than petrol or diesel vehicles.

Funding from the Government’s Clean Air Fund early measures programme provided the initiative to get the scheme off the ground, and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council instructed Joju Solar to install the project, following a mini-tender through the ESPO Framework.  Joju Solar are uniquely well placed to deliver schemes like this as we are one of the largest installers of Public Sector EV charge point programmes, as well as having decades of experience installing solar PV and battery storage.

Our fears have been unfounded – the chargepoints are being widely used, and people are prepared to use charge points at outlying council offices and country parks.  From our point of view, it’s worked extremely well”.  The Council are seeing the solar PV generation being used on their own sites, reducing bills, and the battery storage is covering lighting requirements overnight.

A Holistic Public Sector Approach to EV Charge Points

Rotherham’s approach appears to be paying dividends, and there’s an appetite for more.  “The whole system has been really well thought out – there’s chargers in the basement for staff and outside for public use.  We’d like to do more of the same – perhaps in innovative locations like schools and colleges as well”.

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s pioneering scheme is a strong example to other councils, particularly in the way that they have looked at the larger energy picture.   Electrifying transport will inherently increase demand for electricity, and it shows a truly holistic approach to sustainability to consider how this will be provided as part of one installation programme.

Find Out More

  • We’ve developed the Joju Charging Portal – an information hub for public sector bodies looking to install electric vehicle charge point programmes
  • The Rotherham Metropolitan Council scheme was procured through the ESPO framework
  • See how the complete set of solar PV, battery storage and electric car charge points can help in the home
University of Reading, solar panels, Edith Morley, sunshine, blue sky

Subsidy Free Solar at University of Reading

Reading University have just completed the installation of 168 kW of solar PV across their main campus, and due to a peculiarity of the site, have installed this subsidy free – that is to say without the use of any feed-in tariff support.  Extensions to solar PV systems do not qualify for feed-in tariffs, and with the whole of the campus on one supply, any new PV systems do not qualify for support due to the presence of an existing array on site.  That left Reading University with a choice – install PV without subsidy, or not to install at all.

Reading University did indeed install, as the economic case for them was still strong.  As such, this project forms an exemplar for future commercial solar installations once the feed-in tariff is removed in April 2019.

Opportunities from re-roofing

The scheme focussed on 2 building on the main campus.  The Edith Morley building is the largest building on site, and centrally located.  At 124 kW, this gave good economics due to its scale, and also acted as a very public statement of the University’s drive towards a low carbon campus.

The second building – the Wager building – offered a different opportunity.  The roof was being replaced, and so it made sense to install 44 kW solar PV at the same time as these other roof-works.  With scaffolding typically making up 10% of the cost of a commercial solar installation, there is an immediate cost saving for running the 2 works concurrently.  Again, this is a good guide for those considering solar PV projects in a subsidy free environment– cost savings from sharing scaffolding like this can offset the lack of feed-in tariff income.

Solar PV as part of a carbon reduction strategy

Reading University have an ambitious carbon reduction programme of 45% by 2021, and are already ahead of target.  However, the simpler measures, typically energy efficiency, have already been carried out.  By addressing the ‘low-hanging fruit’ in early years, solar PV now makes increasing sense as one of the next set of measures.  It’s a very good technology for a 2nd wave of energy retrofits, as deep carbon reductions require moving beyond energy efficiency and looking at generation technologies as well.

The Edith Morley Building, for example, gave rates of return on investment of 12% even without feed-in tariffs, which equates to an eight year payback.  Reading University considered this a financially attractive option for meeting their carbon targets.

Complexity in project management

The most complex aspect of the project was coordinating the works on site.  All roof works had to be completed in the summer holidays, and the PV had to follow after the re-roofing works were complete.  This required careful and flexible project management in order to take advantage of the opportunity.  Reading University have indicated that when they are reroofing other buildings they will look to incorporate solar at the same time.

This approach of sharing scaffolding costs across 2 pieces of roof work is something Joju Solar are very experienced at, and one we commonly use in our work on solar schools.

A subsidy free solar future

The Reading University project is an exemplar for solar PV projects operating without any form of subsidy – and where the benefits of the PV come solely from reducing the bills on site.  The project provides pointers to what makes a successful solar project, namely:

  • All electricity is used on site – commercial buildings with high on-site usage give the best economics
  • There is a clear carbon reduction strategy in place across the institution
  • Solar PV has clear role in that strategy, becoming increasingly important once ‘low hanging fruit’ energy efficiency measures have been carried out
  • There are opportunities re-roofing to improve economic case
  • Public space, where a clear statement about green activities can be projected.

Further Reading

Bedford Road, Southampton, electric car charging station, public charging station

Cleaning Transport with Southampton City Council

 

Addressing Local Air Quality

Southampton City Council have just completed the installation of 30 electric vehicle chargepoints in the city centre multi-storey car parks.  The scheme is part of a wider city council programme on clean transport aimed at improving air quality in the region by reducing particulates and NOx emissions, which includes encouraging public transportation and  reducing idling engines.  Councillor Christopher Hammond outlines the case : “We’ve been one of 5 places in the UK identified as having an air quality issue, so addressing this is a priority for our local sustainable transport agenda. We’re working extremely hard to improve local air quality in Southampton and encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles is a very important part of our strategy.”

The idea behind the EV charging station programme is to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles in the region by making public charging infrastructure more visible.  When the public can see that there is a wide network of public EV charging stations, it reduces range anxiety and encourages the purchase of EVs.  As EVs become more widely adopted this will have positive knock on consequences for air quality, as well as lower CO2 emissions from a climate change perspective.  “We’re also encouraging the uptake of electric vehicles by offering a 90% reduction in parking charges, and we’re consulting on making the Itchen Bridge toll-free for electric cars.”

EV chargepoints for public car parks

Southampton City Council settled on 5 central multi-storey car parks for the first phase of their EV charge station programme, with 6 chargepoints installed at each location.  The sites have high usage, and comparatively long stay times, which means the chargepoints will have good utilisation.  Additionally, electricity already existed on site, and new grid supplies did not need to be installed.  This allowed a quick turnaround on the project, and Joju completed the project around  in 6 weeks from contract award to commissioning and handover.

The council chose New Motion smart chargers for the project for three main reasons.  First, they offer dynamic load balancing, which allows available power to be smartly allocated between cars without overloading the electrics.  Joju Operations Director, Joe Gabriel, explains: “We’ve installed a 22kW 3-phase connection at each site to power the 6 chargers.  If one car is charging, this will receive the full 22kW, equivalent to a 3-phase fast charger.  If three cars are charging, each will receive 7.2 kW, equivalent to a normal fast home charger.  And if all 6 bays are in use simultaneously this drops to 3.6kW.  It means we can be certain we won’t overload the wires if there’s a high charging demand.”   The units also allow users to access via a smart card, and although the scheme will be free initially, in future it will allow the council to make a small charge to the users.  Third, the council also liked the “simple, sleek, smart and subtle” look of the New Motion units, which were considered less gaudy than other alternatives.

Smooth Project Management

Although the works were broadly straightforward, the scheme wasn’t without operational challenges.  The Marlands site had an old electrical fuseboard which required shutting down by the grid operator so we could safely make the connection.  A 2-hour slot was scheduled to make the connection, during which time all lifts in the multi-storey were out of action.  The Joju team managed the flow of people and cars during this time to ensure that customer visits were as hassle free as possible while the works were carried out.

Rob Gloyns, Clean Air Zone Project Officer commented:  “We were grateful for Joju’s smooth project management as it allowed the council to take a more hands-off approach to the delivery phase.  They have been extremely straightforward to deal with, and we’ve known exactly who at Joju has been dealing with what.”

Just the Beginning

Councillor Hammond sums up the first phase of the scheme “We’ve been very pleased with the partnership we’ve built with Joju to install these units – it’s been a seamless piece of project delivery, completed to a very high standard.”  The programme can now focus on expanding the scheme to other areas of the city, including ground car parks and on-street parking.  Joju have also recently won a tender for the installation of EV chargepoints across Hampshire, so the Southampton scheme will be integrated with a wider EV charging station roll-out across the county.

Further Reading

Zappi, myenegie, solar charger, ev charger

A Happy Zappi Customer

Roger has just bought a Zappi electric car charger to power his brand new Volkswagen e-golf. Roger has had the good fortune to be inspired by the latest electric vehicle technology up close. A Director of Photography by trade, Roger got the electric vehicle bug when filming the Formula E cars in action on the Greenland ice-sheet! Further work followed filming the Jaguar i-pace, and that inspired Roger himself to make his next car a fully electric one.

The Zappi EV charger

The Zappi is usually used to charge electric cars directly off the excess electricity produced by solar panels.  However, Roger chose a Zappi charger for his home, even though he doesn’t own solar panels yet. “We’re debating whether to move to New Zealand, but we got the Zappi in case we stayed; if we do solar is next on the list for us”. However, Roger saw the benefits of the Zappi unit, not just for allowing him to integrate with solar in future, but also in terms of the programmability of the existing device. “I can set it to start charging at 12:30 at night for a full 8 hours at the night rate of 7p per unit. It’s a great product, and seems to have more control than other units.

Flexible Electricians

The installation was completed in just a few hours. Our electrician found a convenient wiring route from the consumer unit to a discrete charging unit mounted in the porch. “I thought we’d have to go out and though the garage, but the electrician thought on his feet and found a neat route under the floor and up into the consumer unit.

Another EV convert

Overall, Roger’s very pleased with his step into the world of electric transportation. “I was delighted with the Zappi installation. Great communication, a seamless install, and a great product”. And of course, Roger filmed the whole installation, making this great little video.

Further Reading

• We’ve blogged about the Zappi charger here
• Find out more about electric car charging points for your home
• Are you thinking about the complete set of solar PV, battery storage and EV charging?

Tesla, powerwall, ev charging, electric vehicle

Chris’s Complete Set

Chris Savage has jumped straight into the smart electric future; he purchased the complete set of technologies offered by Joju Solar in one go.  His home now features a solar PV roof, Tesla Powerwall 2 battery storage, an electric vehicle charging point, and an Immersun device to divert any excess solar electricity into hot water heating.

Driven by his electric car

Chris’s reasons for getting solar and battery storage shows how complementary these technologies are.  Whilst we have seen people with PV roofs going on to get and electric car, for Chris it was the other way round.  “I’m fundamentally green, but it was getting an electric car that pushed me into finally doing this.  I’d been thinking about solar for some years, but it was the idea that it could help charge my car that was most appealing.”  Seeing an episode of Fully Charged about the Tesla Powerwall also prompted Chris to incorporate storage into his home energy upgrade.

The design challenge

Integrating so many components can be complex, so ensuring all aspects work well together is critical.  The system is designed so that the solar produces electricity in the day, which is used or stored in the battery.  The battery discharges in the evening and night-time into lights and appliances in the house, and trickle charges the car.  Chris has a plug-in hybrid Mercedes, which has a comparatively small battery capacity of 6.5kWh, so it’s not a drain on the battery.  Chris has got involved too: “I fiddled with the charging profile on the electric car, so it doesn’t exceed the output capacity of Powerwall”.  On the best days in summer, Chris’s PV system will generate more electricity than even the Powerwall 2 can take, so here any excess electricity is diverted into the hot water tank, using the Immersun, rather than being fed back to the grid.

Turning carbon into a game

It does give you a fuzzy glow to know you are producing your own electricity. It’s very interesting and I’ve been rather obsessive about it! We’ve managed self-powered up in the high 90%’s.  It’s almost a game trying to minimise grid electricity – a bit like driving the car, when we sort of consider it a failure to use fossil fuels

Further Reading

 

Sunpower, Tesla, Powerwall2, installation

Robert Llewellyn’s Home of the Future

Comic actor and TV presenter Robert Llewellyn is a passionate proponent of new energy technologies.  He runs a Youtube channel, called Fully Charged, looking not just at electric vehicles, but also the way in which that electricity is generated from renewable sources.  If you’re not following it, we thoroughly recommend you do – it really is the best source of news about new energy technologies out there, and puts mainstream media to shame!

Why did you chose solar and storage

Robert Llewellyn has had solar PV on the roof of his house in the Cotswold for some years, but has increasingly felt he could do more.  “I’ve had solar since 2011 and as soon as you have it, you want a battery. In theory it makes so much sense and for once in life the practice proves the point

The design challenge

Robert is of course, also passionate about his electric vehicles, which also need charging at home.  Our brief, therefore was to boost his solar generation, utilise a greater percentage of the solar electricity on site and use any excess to charge his cars.

The Home of the Future

We upgraded Roberts existing solar PV system of 2.5kW conventional modules to 16 high efficiency Sunpower 327 modules, totalling 5.23kW.  These high efficiency modules (over 21%) have doubled the generation from his roof space.

In order to use more electricity onsite, we installed one of the first Powerwall2 battery systems in the country.  This Tesla solar battery unit is much larger than conventional battery units holding an impressive 13.4kWh of energy.  This greater battery capacity matches to the larger PV system – anything smaller would fill up too quickly.

The system works by using excess solar electricity to charge the Powerwall2 during the day.  It discharges in the evening to loads in the house, but by midnight, we do not expect the battery to be empty.  It is at this point that the Powerwall2 discharges into Robert’s car batteries.  The car batteries then fill any remainder with cheaper night-time tariff electricity.

This approach is perfect as the battery is completely empty the next morning ready to capture the maximum possible solar energy through the day.

It is slightly unconventional to do charge a battery (Powerwall2) and then discharge it into another battery (vehicles), and thermodynamically this might not seem sensible.  It is, however, the best thing to do economically.  Robert uses his free solar electricity first, then cheap night-time electricity, with any remaining (on poor days in winter) coming at standard day rates.

Early results seem very promising: “I’ve had the system running for 2 days and my mains electricity usage has reduced by 95%.  Okay, it’s summer, it’s sunny, and over the year I’m sure it won’t manage that, but it’s obvious it will reduce our overall demand on the grid by a substantial amount and utilise far more of the power the panels produce.”

We think this is a perfect exemplar of integrating solar generation, storage technologies and electric vehicle charging.  It is complex, from an engineering standpoint, as we have to balance PV capacity, battery storage capacity, loads in the house and electric vehicle loads, but we look to have found an optimal solution.  The home of the future is increasingly going to incorporate all these technologies operating in combination.

One happy customer

“Joju Solar have been patient and supportive throughout the install of my new solar array and Powerwall 2 battery system. They needed to be patient due to my constant faltering, budget anxiety and ridiculous schedule.  They fitted the battery in a day, wired it up, stayed longer than expected to make sure it was all working, left the place spotlessly tidy and did a very fine job.” – Robert Llewellyn

 

Further reading

  • We’ve developed a free guide to Tesla’s Powerwall2, so you can understand if it is the right option for you.
  • You can see the installation process for Robert’s Powerwall2 in this technical blog
  • The high efficiency Sunpower solar modules are essential to make this system work. Here’s our guide to the most efficient modules on the market
commercial battery storage, sonnen, repower balcombe, sussex, Eco8

Commercial Battery Storage at Turners Hill School

Good things come in threes for this commercial battery storage system

Background

Repower Balcombe is a community energy group founded as a positive response to threats of fracking in the area.  The group have funded solar PV on 4 schools in the area, including this one at Turners Hill Primary which was installed by Joju in 2015.  With their community benefit fund from existing sites bearing fruit, they decided to set up a battery storage project to understand this new technology better.

Commercial Battery Storage

The challenge for Joju Solar was to design and specify a battery storage system that maximises the benefits to the host school.

The school is typical of a small commercial battery storage system, which has very different characterisitcs to domestic battery systems.  The electricity supply to the school is 3-phase, so we needed to install storage across all three phases.  With 3-phase batteries of this scale not available in the UK as present, we installed 3 separate battery systems, each dealing with the load and generation on that phase.  You can see the three individual storage units, manufactured by Sonnen, in the photos.  Technically the greatest challenge related to the battery’s monitoring – it needs to monitor the extent of import and export from the school and the generation from the solar PV.  The PV system was some 20 meters from the battery installation so we needed to run long monitoring cables as part of the works.

The system operates under a regime where excess solar generation is captured during the day, and used to run the school in the evenings and through the night.  We gathered half-hourly electricity demand data from the school, and undertook a comprehensive modelling exercise to determine the optimal battery size.  In order to meet the evening and night-time demand, we settled on a storage capacity of 4kWh per phase.

The graph (left) shows that we have sized the system almost perfectly. The purple line shows the energy stored in the battery.  The solar charges it up to full capacity in the morning, where it remains until early evening.  Once demand is no longer met by solar, the battery discharges to meet demand on site.  It’s empty again just a matter of minutes before the sun comes up and starts charging it again!  Electricity imported from the grid, shown in pale blue is virtually non-existent; the school is running on its own solar generated electricity.

The installation and the stats

The installation took place at Turners Hill School in Turners Hill village in Sussex.  Joju Solar installed 3 x Sonnen Eco 8 4kWh batteries in just 2 days at the site.

The system is meeting the school’s needs for electricity in the spring/summer/autumn months.  However, it should be noted that in winter there will not be sufficient surplus electricity to charge up the batteries and the system will remain dormant at this time.

For this reason, paybacks for this battery system are long, and in excess of the battery lifetime.  Repower Balcombe were able to fund this project as they already had surplus funds generated for good causes such as this (i.e. saving the school money)

However, do not despair!  Our modelling shows that there are other ways of operating commercial battery storage systems in commercial premises that does give paybacks shorter than the battery lifetime, especially with the good economics of the Tesla Powerwall2 battery.  If you’d like to see how this could work for you, then do get in touch with our batteries and smart grids team.

Further Reading

  • Read how we pioneered storage in the community by installing batteries for social housing tenants in Oxford
  • For larger sites than Turners Hill, the Powerwall 2 looks to be an excellent option, and installs very easily
  • Find our more about our work with community energy groups across the country

Marks and Spencer – Community Energy Scheme

Background

Historically, community energy initiatives have fallen into two categories, depending on where they draw their members from. Investors come from either the local area where the project is located or where the community is geographically scattered are made up of people with a shared passion. However, we’re proud to have helped M&S develop a new type of community energy scheme – where a corporate institution engages the community energy approach to finance renewable schemes.

READ MORE

Prodrive to the moon and back

The largest community-owned roof mounted solar array in the UK

Background

Prodrive is a world leading motorsport and technology business. They are best known for motorsport, but they are now a technology business working in a range of sectors with operations in Banbury and Milton Keynes employing more than 500 staff.

READ MORE

Ashok’s Birthday Solar

Ashok Patel’s birthday solar installation

Why did you choose solar?

“I wanted to reduce reliance on electricity from the grid and reduce my energy bills. After researching solar I decided it would not only reduce my electricity bills, but it would also be a good investment to leave to my family for the future.”
Challenge

To install the largest system possible on the roof space available and complete the installation for Ashok’s birthday as planned.

Solution

Understanding the customer’s requirements and objectives are important to ensure the best system and that it meets the customer’s expectations. Joju Solar worked closely with Ashok and designed a system to maximise the capacity given the limited roof space available. Savings on electricity bills and a decrease in reliance on electricity from the grid allowed Ashok to future proof against rising energy costs. Ashok was pleased with his system and very happy to have his legacy to pass onto his children, but most of all Ashok enjoyed that the installation was completed on his 76th birthday.

“I am very happy with my new solar PV system. After speaking to many other solar companies I was very impressed with the way Joju Solar answered all my questions. They gave me the exact system I was after and the installation was completed without any problems.”