Car charging, garage

Tony’s Smart Electric Car Charger

Tony and Nicky Michaels have just installed a smart New Motion electric car charging point for their home in North London.  Like many people taking the plunge and switching to an electric vehicle they have needed to install a chargepoint at home, and they chose Joju to carry out the works.

Choosing to get an electric car

Tony and Nicky have been trying to do their bit for the environment, including a full eco-design for their home“We’re aware of global warming and try to do as much as possible when we can.  We’d been thinking of getting an electric car for years.  We do lots of town driving, so it really seemed to make sense.  The electric car has been brilliant – we wish we’d done it much earlier.”

New Motion chargepoint

The property is a little unusual for the UK in that it has a 3-phase electrical supply.  “The main reason for choosing the New Motion charger was that it had a three phase supply so we could charge up at 22kW”.  The chargepoint is also smart enabled as standard allowing you to see your charging data, and the cost of running the car on a portal.  Drivers of petrol and diesel cars are very aware of how much it costs to run, as they hand over money in the petrol station.  That’s not always as visible for EV owners as they just plug in, and money doesn’t change hands until you get your next electricity bill.  The New Motion portal allows you to see what your running costs really are.

EV chargepoint installation

Tony and Nicky’s unique property posed some engineering challenges for the team.  Their incoming supply is in the basement, and we needed to run cables up to the ground floor garage.  The floor in between was concrete, so this was a pretty major task for the electricians.  Nonethless, despite these technical challenges, the team still completed the install in just under a day.

Fast Charging with New Motion

“The New Motion charger works excellently – we’ve had no problems at all – and we can fully charge in under 2 hours.  And we were very happy with the install too – as well as getting all the chargepoint grant paperwork in order.  We needed to go out at 5:30 that evening, and everything got completed on time.”

Further Reading

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

EV Charging Time for Mr Wolff

EV Charging Time for Mr Wolff

What time is it Mr Wolff? Electric Vehicle Charging time of course! Joju residential customer Dick Wolff explains his reasons for having Electric Vehicle (EV) charging installed when he hasn’t even got an electric vehicle yet.

Oxford councillor and Green Group’s Shadow member for Transport, culture and communities Dick Wolff became one of our newest Joju solar PV customers this month. He also became one of our newest EV charging point customers too. A 7.98kWp SolarWorld system on SolarEdge optimisers and metering was fitted at Dick’s Oxford home alongside a 7.2kW eOLEV home charger supplied by EO charging.

The EO home charger describes itself as “the most easy-to-use, reliable and affordable charger on the market.” There is no software required so you can just plug in and instantly get a charge. EO is, therefore, great for customers who want a quick and easy solution. All you need to do is decide the power you want.

Power Miles of charge p/h Charge time Perfect for
3.7kW 15 7hrs Overnight parking

 

7kW 30 3.5hrs At work parking

 

11kW 50 2hrs Parking whilst you shop

 

22kW 100 1hr Quick stop parking

We spoke to Dick about why he had chosen to have solar PV and EV charging installed at his home. Here’s what he said.

What were your reasons for installing Solar PV?

“It’s two-fold really. The first reason is about energy security for our future. We have bought this house for our retirement. It’s a new build and we wanted to take a long term look to our future. We wanted to be less dependent on the grid as energy prices are certain to rise and rising energy costs will be a challenge when we have less income in retirement.

The second reason is to lower our impact on the environment. I have been a member of the Green Party and I am a councillor in Oxford and reducing our carbon footprint and helping to do our bit to fight climate change is important. Together these two reasons make a strong case for why solar PV was a logical choice for us.”

Why did you install EV charging as well?

“We wanted the house to do as much as it could. We haven’t even got an electric vehicle yet but this gives us the opportunity for the future. I know that our next vehicle will be electric so it was the smart thing to do. We have smart metering throughout the house and we replaced the entire gas heating system with an underfloor ground heat pump. Like I said this house is about our future retirement so it made sense to make it a house for the future too.”

Why did you choose Joju?

“Joju had come to us highly recommended. But I was also very aware of them from my work as a councillor in Oxford. I had seen the work they had done in areas of Oxford like Rose Hill and knew they offered high quality products and great service. We weren’t disappointed. Joju have been brilliant. The whole process worked really well. The only delay in the whole process came from the Government and waiting for approval. Joju did everything in their power to ensure a smooth process.”

If you are interested in EV Charging

If you would like EV charging installed then Joju can definitely help. We are authorised to install electric vehicle charging points under the Government’s Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), which means that for approved systems, customers like yourselves can now receive grants. For more information on EV charging, approved systems, and how to obtain a grant, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

 

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.”

 

 

Green Oak leads the Way with LEDs

Green Oak school leads the way with LED installation

Background

All schools and teachers know that the environment in which children learn and work in is crucial to both their education and how they behave. Negative work spaces can create negative behaviour and limit a child’s opportunity to excel. Lighting plays a crucial role in creating a positive working environment and too many classrooms around the country still have inefficient lighting, issues with broken lights, flicker, and mismatched colours, which can all hamper the learning environment . Many schools are beginning to realise the potential for improving their classrooms through LED lighting, which is both aesthetically more pleasing but also creates light more conducive to learning. Green Oak Primary school is one such school who saw the potential in installing LED lighting to improve their school’s learning environments.

The Project

In Autumn 2016 Joju replaced 68 existing luminaires (light fittings). Dated and flickering batten fittings were replaced with sleek slimline LED panels that sit in the recessed ceiling. Rooms that originally had lights of different colour, which is unsightly to say the least, were all replaced with cool white LED lights. Flickering lights have been replaced with modern, instant-on lamps that have transformed the classrooms.

The Benefits

The LED installation at Green Oak will reduce energy bills by 5,600 kWh per year. We estimate that to be a saving of £611 per year (that’s about £10 for each fitting). Over the lifetime of the LEDS they will deliver over £12k of cost savings and when all benefitsare taken into account we expect a payback of four years. LEDs need replacing less often than fluorescent tubes, which offers significant maintenance saving. This will be especially true in the two-storey sports hall, where specialist access equipment is required every time a fluorescent tube fails.

What they said

The Headteacher of Green Oak school, Miriam Morris said “Joju provided a fantastic service to Green Oak working at all times in a professional manner at the school. They installed the lights during half term, so it didn’t have any adverse impact on us in school. The job was completed efficiently and on time and the results are fantastic. The LED lighting has made a real positive difference already to the aesthetic and working environment of the classrooms where they have been installed. It has changed things so much that many of the staff thought that the school had been completely repainted when they came back after the week of holiday!”

The project at Green Oak was funded by grants raised by Wey Valley Solar Schools Energy Co-operative, a member of Joju’s long term community energy partner, Energy4All.” Project co-ordinator Rachael Hunter said “We know from past experience that working with Joju will always be a pleasure. The service and knowledge of the project manager was second to none and we always feel confident in Joju’s ability to complete a job to the highest spec.”

 

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.