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

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

On the grounds of Chilworth Manor

In Autumn 2011 Joju installed a 196 panel ground mounted solar system in the grounds of grade II listed Chilworth Manor, Surrey.

Background

Chilworth Manor is a historic country house located in Surrey. The manor, itself, is grade II listed by English Heritage. In 2011 Joju were commissioned to install a ground mounted solar array.

READ MORE

Pepsi turns Copella Green

PepsiCo install solar at their Copella Juice factory

Background

Corporate Responsibility is a key focus and a point of competitive advantage for many companies. Over the last twenty years multi-nationals have implemented more and more creative ways to lower their environmental impact, decrease their carbon footprint and demonstrate themselves as more socially responsible citizens. One of the simplest and quickest ways and wins for companies has been to look at ways of improving the efficiency of their own buildings and operations.

READ MORE

Academic First for SOAS

The first crowd-funded solar project at a higher education institution was installed at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

Background

After crowdsourcing funds combined with university investment Solar SOAS, a project led by student group The Energy and Climate Justice Student Society, successfully raised the funds needed for a 29.6kWp system to be installed at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). This was the first student-led crowdfunded project of its type and Joju were delighted to be involved. We pride ourselves on pioneering solar PV and community funded projects and this was yet another example of a solar first for Joju.

The SOAS community will decide how to spend the profits generated from the system (estimated to be £2000 a year) with a voting process to be opened each year to determine what green project or cause will be selected over the lifetime of the scheme.

The Project

Joju installed an East to West solar PV array with a Solis inverter in September 2016. It is a 29.6kW system which will generate 24.15 MWh per year for SOAS. It consists of 114 260W Amerisolar panels all attached to a K2 frame. The University has it’s own mini electricity grid with equipment, which while stunning in its antiquity was also listed so provided a unique challenge for us to incorporate a modern, high-tech solar PV system in to (see the picture).

This project was extremely unique, Joju Head of Engineering James Page said “What made this project really special was the fact it happened because of the combined forces of an enthusiastic bunch of students who kicked the thing off, all supported by accommodating staff: with just one or the other it wouldn’t have happened.”

The project also gained political support from Keir Starmer, local MP for Holborn & St. Pancras. He said he was “absolutely thrilled to see the first university community energy project in the UK happening in our constituency. We hope this will lead the way for further similar projects around the country!”

The Benefits

The installation demonstrate SOAS’s continual efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, with the installation thought to save over 10 tonnes of carbon every year, therefore, building on its success as a green institution. In 2016 SOAS  topped the Brite-Green university league table with a 55% reduction in carbon emissions since 2005. SOAS have also been awarded the Carbon Champion mark of achievement by the Camden Climate Change Alliance.

Solar SOAS is hoping that they will act as a pilot for other UK universities and even set up UniSolar, a community benefit society to administer and introduce community energy to other higher education establishments. They also plan to build on the success of this project, with other solar installations.

Isobel Annan, co-founder of Solar SOAS said: “We overcame many obstacles and met some hair-raising deadlines over the past two years, as full-time students and alumni endeavouring to do something green and good in a challenging policy environment. But we are live and generating, and ecstatic to see those shining panels.”

Baroness Valerie Amos CH, Director of SOAS said: “I am always impressed by the commitment of SOAS students to engage with the pressing issues facing our world today. Solar SOAS is an excellent example of our students taking a constructive and positive approach to tackling one of the great challenges of our time – climate change.”

 

 

Solar social housing in Brighton

Brighton and Hove City Council commits to tackling both poverty and climate change

The Challenge

Government-imposed budget cuts, inner-city poverty and adaptation to climate change is a triptych of problems that face UK city councils. Brighton & Hove City Council is committed to tackling all three issues one way it has found to address all them is by investing in solar panels for its social housing stock.

Solar PV is a triple win for social housing landlords: it means reduced electricity bills for tenants, reductions in carbon emissions and a reliable income source for 20 years. A triple win that directly combats the triple issue problem that councils are facing.

In 2015 Cllr Bill Randall, the council’s Chair of Housing, said about Brighton’s actions: “We’ve made great progress installing solar panels on our estates. We also sell the surplus energy we’re generating back to the grid and this money goes back into the city’s housing services.”

“£1.55 million is to be invested into solar photovoltaic (PV) panels for council housing over the next financial year,” he added. “Plans are in hand to bring forward the money earmarked for 2015/16 for a further 300 houses and 10 sheltered schemes. Beyond that, we hope to bring solar panels to further 1,000 homes.”

The Solution

Joju Solar designed and installed the Brighton solar project. Installations were completed on more than 200 homes, with system sizes varying between 2 and 3 kWp based on the available roof space. A total capacity of 980 kWp was installed during the project.

During the project improved supply chain logistics to allow for the smooth development of five installations per day per Joju team which helped to streamline the process and improve the efficiency of the whole project ensuring that Joju delivered the project at the best cost possible to the council.

What the residents said

After solar panels were installed on her house in Manor Way, Gwendoline Walls said: “It’s the best thing ever. I really can’t praise it enough. I cooked a meal on my electric cooker, ran the washing machine and dryer, and it only cost me 21p. It’s amazing. I can really see the difference in my bills. Plus they actually look pretty nice on the roof.”

Another resident, in Pulborough Close, said: “No troubles, no hold-ups – it was very easy. The installers were very friendly. The installation was neatly done, with nothing disturbed in the house. We’ve had no problems at all with the system. Plain sailing. We’re very happy with it.”

On any project one of Joju’s main goals is to help residents save on energy bills. We have been part of many social housing projects, and every single one is still special to us, as it brings us all nearer to a low carbon way of living.

 

 

 

 

Protecting homes from rising energy costs in Newham

Newham Council’s showpiece sustainable housing development goes solar

About the installation
Joju Solar won a competitive public tender to install a 20kWp system comprising 72 Sanyo/Panasonic 240W modules and 52 bespoke 45Wp brise soleil louvres on a brand new showpiece sustainable housing development for the London borough of Newham.

Installation time: 2 weeks

Challenge
To design and install an efficient solar PV system within complex architectural constraints and at the same time deliver strong financial returns. The PV installation needed to fit within a very tight program of works.

The new housing development was designed to lead the way in terms of both new sustainable home building and also to be a showcase in the borough for sustainable living. The solar installation was a key factor in allowing the client to meet the level five code for sustainable homes (a mandatory building requirement).

Solution
Joju Solar worked with the architect, principal contractor and other contractors involved in the development to meet the ambitious design limitations and tight program of works and delivered the project on time and on budget.
Our engineers designed a bespoke mounting system which allowed for the solar panels to be mounted above a green
living roof. The installation will deliver a high rate of return whilst at the same time helping the development achieve its sustainability targets.

What they said

Pip Watson, Principal Environmental Health Officer said “We wanted to lead the way in sustainable living locally. Joju delivered a bespoke installation which ticks the green box but will also reap strong financial returns for
the housing development.”

 

 

Julian and Lorena join the All Blacks

Julian and Lorena join the All Blacks with installation of 16 Solarworld’s 285w mono black solar panels

Background

When Julian and Lorena contacted Joju about a solar installation with home battery storage they wanted something that was going to complement their new home and fit in with its aesthetic. This is a pre-requisite of many of our residential consumers who voice concerns about how solar panels will look on their roofs and whether or not they will ‘fit in’. With existing solar tiles already out there on the market and Tesla recently annoucing their plans for solar tiles (see our installer’s guide to Tesla’s solar tiles) plenty of options are available. It is possible, however, to get the right look with panels. And that’s exactly what we did with the Solarworld mono black solar panels.

The Installation

16 Solarworld 285w  mono black panels were installed on Julian and Lorena’s new build property in Virginia Water, near Wentworth. There new build property is  supported by 4.56 kWp of All Black solar panels. The panels were mounted “in-roof” which means that they are flush with the roof line so blending in beautifully to the dark slate tiles and creating a brilliant aesthetic.  As well as the solar array Julian and Lorena also had a DC coupled 6.4kWh Tesla Powerwall installed, which stores excess solar energy for use in the evening.

The all black panels from Solarworld are German engineered. They come with the TUV Rheinland Power inspection mark and a linear performance warranty covering a period of 25 years, SolarWorld guarantees a maximum performance degression of 0.7% p.a only,

What Julian thinks

Julian says: ‘The solar PV and Powerwall system is the perfect addition to our new house. We are very pleased with the installation by Joju Solar and excited to have the sun help power our home day and night.’