Image credit: Solarcentury
We know that 80% of UK farmers want to install solar in the next two years, and we've seen how Glastonbury Festival organizer Michael Eavis installed a massive solar installation on his cowshed roof. One farmer is now pushing the envelope a little further—not just installing solar on his cow shed roof, but ripping off the whole roof and replacing it with solar panels instead. So, what's the difference?UK's First Integrated Solar Farm Roof
The concept of integrated solar roofs is not exactly new of course. John has covered Sharp's integrated solar roofing tiles before, and Justin has shown us a huge integrated solar roof at Academie Mont-Cenis.
However, according to Solarcentury, the maker of "Energy Roofs", the replacement of two cowshed roofs by farmer John Woolcock with over 555 Sharp solar panels covering a total of nearly 700m2 is a first of its kind in the country. Instead of sitting on top of an existing roof, the solar panels become the roof itself. The result, says Woolcock, is a more durable, better looking structure. (Presumably he got to save some on the replacement roofing materials too). Here's his take on the technology:
Why would you want to bolt solar panels onto an old barn when you're making such a financial commitment - you want something durable and good looking. We're really pleased to have been able to update our buildings with roofs made entirely from solar, and of course to be the first to do it in this country.
Integrated Solar Roofs Circumvent Planning Issues
Interestingly, Solarcentury are also touting the ease of getting through the planning process as a major advantage of integrated solar roof technology. In fact, planning permission for this project was granted specifically on the condition that it was a replacement roof, not an "add on", as evidenced by the planning committees decision:
Providing the solar collection equipment is integral in enabling the replacement roof to provide shelter i.e. it is the roof covering as opposed to being attached on top of the roof by some means, then I can confirm that your proposal is Permitted Development...
More on Solar and Farming
80% of UK Farmers Want to Go Solar by 2013
Festival Owner Builds Massive Solar Roof on his Cow Shed
Farming the Sun: $600,000 a Year