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Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

How Does Solar Energy Impact the Environment?

solar-energy-impact

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Solar energy has a powerful impact on the world’s environment as well as having the potential to radically change how we get our power. Photovoltaic … Read more »

The Solar Installation Process Step by Step

solar-installation-process

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Once you have decided on solar panels for your home, and you have been advised about the best position for these on your roof in … Read more »

How Does Solar Energy Impact the Economy?

solar-plant

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The full impact of solar energy is still being considered, as it depends on a number of factors, such as the increase in renewable resources … Read more »

Types of Renewable Energy to Generate Electricity

Hydropower Dam

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More and more people are looking to generate electricity in a renewable way, rather than relying on the electricity companies all the time. If you … Read more »

Courses and Jobs in the Renewable Energy Sector

Students Studying

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Renewable energy is a fast growing sector in the UK. While this means it provides us with the opportunity to benefit from clean energy that … Read more »

Do I Need Insurance for My Solar Panels or Am I Alr ...

Insurance for Solar Panels

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We’ve read a lot in the news about people having solar panels installed so they can make the most of generating their own power and … Read more »

The Hybrid Solar Solution by Newform Energy Ltd

The Hybrid Solar Solution by Newform Energy Ltd

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Newform Energy Ltd Newform Energy is a wholesale provider of affordable renewable energy products which specialise in hybrid solar technology. Newform Energy was the first … Read more »

How Much Do 3KW and 4KW Solar Panel Systems Cost? P ...

How Much Do 3KW and 4KW Solar Panel Systems Cost? Prices and Reviews

Posted:

The size of the solar panel system you get will depend on the size of the roof of your house. Typically speaking a small terraced … Read more »

Top 10 Solar Panels Makes and Models: UK Price Comp ...

Top 10 Solar Panels Makes and Models: UK Price Comparison

Posted:

Are you considering having solar panels installed so you can be environmentally friendly and generate your own energy from the sun? If you are, you … Read more »

Feed in Tariff

Feed in Tariff Feed in Tariffs were introduced by UK Government in 2010. The scheme compels energy suppliers to pay you for the electricity you produce via PV solar panels - and sees you paid extra for any electricity you export back to the grid.

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FAQ At solarpanels.co.uk, we want to remove the confusion and mystique around solar energy. So if your queries aren't answered in other areas of the site, you'll most likely find what you're looking for here - in our Solar FAQ.

Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

How Does Solar Energy Impact the Environment?

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Solar energy has a powerful impact on the world’s environment as well as having the potential to radically change how we get our power.

Photovoltaic energy uses the sun to convert power into electricity. Solar power is a renewable energy source; it can be used again and again without the need for burning fuel.

Solar is therefore a much cleaner form of power and we are reaping the rewards of this, more and more.

Reducing carbon emissions

carbon-emmissions

The use of traditional fossil fuels and the way that these are burned accounts for the highest form of emissions, globally. Solar energy, on the other hand, is emission free because greenhouse gases are not an issue with this renewable energy source. Solar energy is able to be converted into electricity without the use of material by-products.

By switching to solar power, we can help the environment benefit from our cleaner, carbon free footprints and this is seen as a hugely positive impact on our world.

Land

Because solar panels are erected onto existing rooftops of buildings (whether this be for commercial, utility or residential use), land space is not an issue for solar energy installations. Large solar plants and factories obviously do require land for their sites, but after the manufacturing has taken place, installation has a minimal impact on the environment.

Resource

Fossil fuels such as gas, oil and coal are a limited resource which we are using up at a worrying pace. Oil in particular is being over used, from its ability to produce energy to the manufacture of plastic products.

Solar energy however is an unlimited resource. It comes from the sun and is simply available all the time.

Fossil Fuel Plants

fossil-fuel-plants
Power plants have a negative effect on the environment, and as demand for fuel increases, more and more plants will need to be constructed. Solar energy has the potential to dominate the global market, thus reducing the need for fossil fuel plants in the future.

Batteries

Batteries are often used in remote locations, where electricity is difficult to harness. Batteries can power equipment and communication devices. If solar cells are used to provide power to such devices, batteries are no longer needed. This is extremely good for the environment, since batteries pose a problem when we dispose of them because of the chemicals within them that can cause contamination.

Image Courtesy: thecarbonaccount.com, sser.co, eoearth.org

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The Solar Installation Process Step by Step

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Once you have decided on solar panels for your home, and you have been advised about the best position for these on your roof in order to capture as much sun as possible, your solar installation experts will visit you to explain the system in detail to you and answer any questions you might have.

Installation time

Most solar panel installations will not take longer than one or two days. The process is straightforward and the panels are easily erected. However in some cases installations may take a little longer, for example on roofs that have rosemary or slate tiles simply because of their fragility. Your solar installation team will advise you of timescales when they visit you.

Access

You don’t need to do anything to prepare for your solar power installation, except provide the project manager, roofer and electricians with access to the working space. This will mean access to your loft space, your water and electricity supply. The team of installers will keep disruption to a minimum. They will firstly erect a scaffold to give a working platform.

The Kit

This will arrive with your installers and will include:


Solar Panels
– in a lightweight frame. The weight of panels varies between 15kg and 30kg. Panels are made up of solar cells within a glass sheet. The panels erected onto your roof will be of a suitable weight and size to suit your property and your output needs.

Roof Anchors – for screwing onto the rafters of your roof. These are stainless steel hooks and are the base for the mounting system. You will not see them once the panels are erected.

Mounting Frame – featuring bars or rails, onto which the panels are mounted. These frames have a locking system so that the panels cannot move once in place.

Panel Installation

Once the anchors and frame have been erected, the panels will be clamped into place, in rows or columns. The panels will be wired already, making connection easy. The DC wiring from your home will then be wired to the panels. It is fed through to the loft and into your inverter. The electrician will connect the supply to your home’s electricity.

Switching On

The inverter will be switched on and the system will be powered up. Voltage readings are then checked to ensure the system is performing correctly.

Image Courtesy: telegraph.co.uk

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How Does Solar Energy Impact the Economy?

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The full impact of solar energy is still being considered, as it depends on a number of factors, such as the increase in renewable resources and how communities use these resources. However, we know that solar energy is having an impact on the economy, partly because of the centralised power plants and cell factories that have grown in number over the past few years.

Solar generating plants that are constructed have an immediate economic benefit because they produce construction jobs. For example, constructing a 1000 mw plant would lead to around 2000 jobs over the three or four years of it being built. Obviously after this time the economic benefit tapers off before climbing again as the plant is populated with employees. Plant construction is only part of the story.

Solar power is available in all areas of the community; it is widely distributed and harnessed through the placing of solar cells on the roofs of local buildings. Local installation naturally creates local jobs, for commercial, utility and residential use. This stimulates local economy. If these cells were manufactured locally, creating the chain of progression needed for solar energy distribution, this would further boost the economy through manufacturing jobs.

The cost of solar energy is reducing significantly and has been for the past few years. Its reduction rate is approximately 4% each year and this is as a result of the development of conversion efficiencies within solar cells. This means that the wattage cost is lowered.

New technologies

New technologies, such as Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) are gaining attention in the global economy. This process involves placing lenses of several mirrors to produce more heat and to channel them to PV systems. CSP costs are lowering and specialists predict that by 2050 around 25% of global energy will come from CSP. This will lower the cost further. The U.S and Spain are currently experiencing growth in their CSP industries and their economies are benefiting from this.

Globally, solar energy is having a significant impact on the economy. This type of energy enables remote locations to be powered, thus reaching communities without other forms of electricity and benefiting them hugely.

Expectations are that the world will be dominated by solar energy within the next three decades and that we will all be reaping the rewards of the sun’s natural energy and reducing the earth’s carbon emissions.

Image Courtesy: power-technology.com

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Types of Renewable Energy to Generate Electricity

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More and more people are looking to generate electricity in a renewable way, rather than relying on the electricity companies all the time. If you are considering your options in this sense, the three main methods are given below. Which one would be best for you to use? Consider them all in relation to the property you own and see which one would prove to be the most cost effective in terms of installation costs and the amount of power you could generate.

Solar

Most people are familiar with solar power. Solar panels can be attached to your roof in order to take in the sun’s rays. The photovoltaic cells are designed to capture the energy and transform it into usable electricity for your home. A south facing roof is ideal for this, and you can have whatever size installation you have room for. The more panels you can accommodate, the more energy you can create.

Wind

You have probably seen large scale wind turbines on the landscape, taking the power inherent in the wind and transforming it into usable electricity. While you won’t want a huge wind turbine in your back garden, there are smaller turbines available to buy that are designed for use in private homes. These can generate some of the electricity you would require in your home, saving you money in the process.

Hydropower

The name reveals the secret behind hydropower – this method of renewable energy uses the power that is held in running water. Imagine the power of a stream running downhill and you will see how it works. It is possible to install a hydropower system at your home if you are fortunate enough to have an accessible source of running water nearby. You will be able to gain a portion of the total electricity you need in your home from such a system.

It should be noted that most renewable energy systems can provide a significant percentage of the overall amount of electricity you need to run your home. A lot will depend on how big the specific installation is and how much electricity you use. If you work hard at reducing your needs you will be able to pay even less for any additional electricity you aren’t able to generate by one of the above methods. As you can see, renewable energy is available in more than one form.

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Courses and Jobs in the Renewable Energy Sector

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Renewable energy is a fast growing sector in the UK. While this means it provides us with the opportunity to benefit from clean energy that doesn’t harm the environment, it also provides us with new job opportunities.

If you have an interest in this sector it is wise to explore the needs and requirements of working in this area. For instance while it may be possible to fall into this kind of job with no previous experience, you are far more likely to find work if you get the right kind of training beforehand. It makes you far more employable and appealing to recruiters who are looking to take on additional staff.

The first step is to get an idea of what sector of the renewable energy industry you would like to work in. There are degree courses in renewable energy available at several universities now, but it may be prudent to combine this type of degree with another relevant degree. For instance you could think about geology or engineering – both of which have a relevance to this area.

A list of selected universities can be viewed here.

Another way to find out more about the wide range of jobs available in this area is to look online to find information on recruitment agencies that specialise in positions involved in green energy. Some of these agencies will provide information and insight into the sector, which could further enhance your chances of finding a way in. The more you know about the range of opportunities available, the easier it will be to gain a foothold in this area.

The good news is that there are more businesses working in renewable energy than there have ever been before. The more you can offer them, the easier it should be to get into this particular line of work.

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Do I Need Insurance for My Solar Panels or Am I Already Covered?

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We’ve read a lot in the news about people having solar panels installed so they can make the most of generating their own power and also being paid the feed-in tariff set by the government. However we haven’t heard much about the issue of making sure the solar panels are insured.

If you are thinking about having solar panels fitted in the near future, it is well worth finding out more about how and where to insure them before you start.

Won’t they be covered automatically by a Buildings Insurance policy?

The answer here, unfortunately, is ‘not necessarily’. In truth it depends on which insurance company you happen to be with. There have been reports of some people finding their insurance company won’t give them cover for their panels, or indeed their home in general after finding out about the solar panels.

The general tripping point seems to be that some insurance companies regard having solar panels as the same as running a business. They assume this because you are earning money from the feed-in tariff.

This means you have to be careful to ask the right questions and to ensure your policy will accept the addition of solar panels before you get them fitted.

Which companies are happy to provide home insurance with Solar Panels included?

It goes without saying that you should always take the time to find out whether you are covered or not on your existing policy. If you are not, you need to go to another insurance company. Some companies seem to charge a nominal extra fee to include the panels, whereas others will include them without any problems at all.

According to customers who already have the panels fitted, the following insurers are all more than happy to provide cover for solar panels on a buildings insurance policy. These include:

- Esure
- AA
- Prudential
- Lloyds TSB
- LV.com
- Aviva

One insurer that some people had trouble with was the NFU; their website seems to be positive towards solar installations but people have said that the underwriters have refused to cover them. This could be a minor issue that has now been resolved, but one customer writing on the Money Saving Expert site could not get them to insure her home as a result.

Do Your Own Research

The good news is that most insurers do seem to be happy to insure buildings that have solar panels installed. However it is definitely worth a phone call to your existing buildings insurance provider to make sure your current policy is suitable. If in doubt, ring them and let them know about the installation. If you find it won’t be covered then it is time to ring round for quotes for companies that will allow it.

Finally, note that most insurers will want to add a note to your policy stating that you do have solar panels fitted. Make sure this is done so all eventualities should be covered.

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The Hybrid Solar Solution by Newform Energy Ltd

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Newform Energy Ltd

Newform Energy is a wholesale provider of affordable renewable energy products which specialise in hybrid solar technology.
Newform Energy was the first in the world to bring to market The Hybrid Solar solution; a single panel which combines both PV and solar thermal collectors along with a water/water heat pump. This British designed solution combines three renewable technologies into a single efficient and reliable system. The system can provide all the annual central heating and hot water requirements of well-insulated buildings and generate more than enough electricity to do so carbon-neutrally.

Newform Energy is a forward thinking renewable energy company which places major emphasis on research and development.

The Hybrid Solar Solution


The Hybrid Solar Solution combines PV, solar thermal collectors and a water/water heat pump in such away that the aggregate system outputs are far greater than those produced by the components individually.

How? PV has a linear drop-off in efficiency as the surface temperature of the panel rises. Given that PV panels are typically black and mounted in such a way as to get maximum exposure to the sun, this rise in panel temperature is inevitable. PV panels typically lose efficiency of up to 0.5% per degree rise in panel temperature. However the Hybrid Solar Solution combines both the PV and Thermal elements onto a single panel – a photovoltaic thermal (or PV-T) collector. This has two main advantages; firstly, by drawing heat away from the panel the electrical output is maintained at a higher level for a longer period, and secondly, with the PV and Thermal elements combined on a single panel less roof area is required, allowing for greater outputs on equivalent roof space.

Solar Thermal

The output of solar thermal is dependent on sunlight so for half the day and most of the winter a solar thermal collector operates very inefficiently and the heat collected is often at a much lower temperature than that required for use in a house. With the integration of the heat pump, the output of the thermal collector is no longer directly related to the intensity of the sun and therefore a constant output temperature can be achieved irrespective of solar input. This has two major advantages, heat can be collected from the panel at night as the surface of the panel will act as a thermal absorber rather than solar collector, and the temperature of water in the house can be set and achieved irrespective of levels of irradiance (sunshine).

Heat Pump

The efficiency of a heat pump is normally shown as a COP (Coefficient of Performance). This is a simple calculation of electrical energy input versus thermal energy output. However, the COP of a heat pump changes across the seasons as the result of the seasonal drop in source temperature. In other words, as the input temperature of the source reduces (colder ambient ground or air conditions), and the difference between latent heat input and upgraded heat output rises, so the COP falls. Air-source heat pumps are most susceptible to this; when the ambient temperature drops to below freezing the COP will drop off dramatically. Ground source heat pumps are more stable and do not have such a wide spread of COP, due to the relative constancy of the energy source.

The Hybrid Solar Solution maximises the advantages of air-source (namely low cost) without the downside of extremely inefficient performance in freezing conditions. The Hybrid Solar Solution collects its heat from the PV-T panels, so even in winter, under direct sunlight, the panels will be providing an input temperature far greater than the ambient air temperature, and generally well above ground-source, particularly at the end of a harsh heating season when the ground may well have frozen. This means that the operating COP of the Hybrid Solution surpasses those of other domestic heat pump technologies.

Technical Specs

The Hybrid Solar Solution uses a Volther PowerVolt Hybrid PV-T collector, which was the first UK MCS accredited PVT panel (with the exception of its sister product PowerTherm), providing the owner with revenue from both the Feed In Tariff and Renewable Heat Incentive systems for its respective electrical and thermal production.
The PowerVolt collector has been developed to maximise the electrical return of the panel, making it an enhanced PV collector, which also produces a reasonable amount of heat production in the summer, even without the heat pump.

The peak outputs of this panel are 190/630 watts electrical/thermal respectively.
When correctly installed the collector will produce more than 20% more electricity than conventional PV. When the heat pump is running the electrical output may increase by a further 25% under certain weather conditions.

This is a perfect solution for customers wishing to maximise the electrical energy returns from a given roof area and also benefit from year round heating and hot water. The Hybrid Solar Solution, with PowerVolt panels installed on a UK house with 28m2 of available south facing roof area, will produce the equivalent annual electrical output from 33m2 of conventional mono crystalline photovoltaics. The same area of PowerVolt collectors will offset approximately the same amount of thermal energy as 8m2 of conventional solar thermal collectors (without any contribution from the heat pump). Using separate PV plus solar thermal systems would therefore require 41m2 to generate the same electrical and thermal energy produced by 28m2 of PowerVolt thermal collectors.

In addition, with the size of solar installation referred to above, the heat pump can produce up to 12,000kWh of heat in winter months when the demand is highest.

Reference: Newform Energy Ltd (www.newformenergy.com Tel: 08458 622143)

Newform Energy are running a training day on 10th May in Newcastle if you would like further information about our product and become an approved installer. For more details please click on the link http://newformtraining.eventbrite.co.uk

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How Much Do 3KW and 4KW Solar Panel Systems Cost? Prices and Reviews

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The size of the solar panel system you get will depend on the size of the roof of your house. Typically speaking a small terraced property will have less room for solar panels to be installed than a larger detached property. The ideal place for panels to be installed is on a south facing portion of roof, so this will also determine how many panels you can have.

In many cases the average size of a UK installation is 1kW to 2kW. But if you have a larger property that has available roof space of 21 square metres or above, you could consider a 3kW or 4kW system.

How much will a 3kW system cost?

This will vary from installer to installer, depending on their own charges and also on the make, model and type of panels used. Obviously, the more efficient the panels are the more energy they will be able to generate and the more money you will save and earn in the future.

It is wise to work on a rate of between £2,500 and £3,500 for each kW produced. So a 3kW solar panel arrangement would set you back from £7,500 to £10,500 or thereabouts.

How much will a 4kW system cost?

By using the same calculations mentioned above, we can see that a larger system generating 4kW will cost from around £10,000 to £14,000. Again this can vary between installers and it depends on the panels used. Some people would rather invest more in the best panels on the market today, so they can earn more from them in future.

Can you expect to generate a lot more energy with a larger solar panel system?

It stands to reason that the size of the installation will directly affect the amount of energy you can generate. For example a 4kW system will be likely to generate twice the amount of energy as a 2kW system. But of course it does depend on the amount of roof space you have that is ideally situated for a solar installation.

Will a larger system be better for generating more revenue for you over the years to come?

Yes it will. When you have solar panels installed you will start generating your own power from the moment the installation is completed. This power will help to reduce your own energy bills. It may even wipe them out altogether. But you are paid for everything you generate, whether you use it or not.

So it makes sense that over time you will generate more revenue from a larger system as well as generating more power. In fact although a larger solar PV panel system will cost you more upfront, you will be able to earn back the cost of the installation more quickly than you would with a 1kW or 2kW system.

As you can see, it may well be worth investing in such an installation if you have the roof space to do so.

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Top 10 Solar Panels Makes and Models: UK Price Comparison

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Are you considering having solar panels installed so you can be environmentally friendly and generate your own energy from the sun? If you are, you have a wide range of effective solar panel makes and models to choose from.

Here are some of the best:-

Sanyo
This is the market leader. They brought a solar panel into the UK in 2011 that achieved 21.6% efficiency in converting power from the sun into energy for the home. They produce a series of HIT (heterojunction with intrinsic thin layer) panels that are highly successful.

SunTech
This company has been responsible for supplying millions of solar panels around the world. You can be assured of a range of high quality panels from this company, regardless of which ones you choose.

Mitsubishi
Cars may be the first things that come to mind when this brand is mentioned, but they are also becoming known for producing extremely precise and high functioning solar panels.

Sharp
This is a named brand that has been one of the best sellers in the UK thus far. Expect panels from this range to achieve between the high 13% and the low 14% efficiency level.

Sun Power
As is the case with most companies, Sun Power produces several different panels. Many of the best are made from monocrystalline modules and the highest efficiency rating is at 15.64%.

Solar Century
Even though the name of this company may not be familiar to you as some of the others are, they are the biggest company of their kind in the UK. Independently owned, they have created and installed systems for many householders across the UK.

Romag
Another name that may not be familiar to you, yet this company has a history that stretches back to 1943. They have been players in the solar PV market since 2004. Their panels reach an output of between 180Wp to 280Wp.

Kyocera
Panels from this company achieve efficiency outputs of around 16%. They are also available in different outputs and have a long warranty. As such you have a good range of models to choose from.

BP Solar
A name that is synonymous with energy in many ways, BP Solar is making significant headway into the solar industry in the UK today. This is one of the lesser known makes at present, but this could well change.

Yingli
This is a Chinese born company and they are one of the earliest companies in the country to be created to cater for this market. There are several UK installers who use panels created by this company.

Which make and model of panels will you use?

Some installers use panels from one or two different companies. They are unlikely to stock or use panels from all of the above. So if you have one or more types of solar PV panels that you wish to use, make sure the installers you contact can supply them for you before you agree to the installation.

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