Image credit: Solarcentury/Geoff Moore.
Some solar projects, like this 9MW solar roof in New Jersey, are note worthy because of their sheer size. Others, like IKEA's recent solar purchases, are note worthy because of who is doing them, as the potential for spreading clean energy across multiple premises becomes apparent. News that the Crown Estate in the UK has installed a solar roof on a stone factory it owns falls into the latter category. True, the project itself is projected to generate enough energy to power 45 homes each year, but as the largest land and property owner in the country, the potential for the Crown Estate to help kick start a true clean energy revolution is enormous. Integrated Solar Roof on Stone Factory
The installation of a solar roof on a stone factory in Portland, created in conjunction with Solarcentury, will itself displace 80 tonnes of Carbon dioxide per year. The electricity will be sold at a reduced rate to the factory tenant, Albion Stone, and any excess revenue is fed directly back to the UK treasury.
Massive Property Owner Deepens Commitment to Renewables
With a diverse range of property that includes retail and industrial premises; housing; farmland; forestry and minerals; parkland; and around half the foreshore and almost all the seabed around the UK, it's not hard to see that The Crown Estate has significant opportunities for ramping up renewable energy. It has already made significant inroads into offshore wind energy development, so a deeper foray into offers a tantalizing promise that it intends to play a significant role in generating clean, renewable energy.
Solar Panels Make up the Roof Itself
The Portland project is notable too for the technology used. Rather than attaching solar panels to an existing roof, the estate is using Solarcentury's "Energy Roof" technology that has already proven popular on agricultural buildings. More technical details on the Energy Roof are available via Solarcentury's website, but this certainly offers an innovative, aesthetically low-impact option for many buildings to go solar:
As a complete roofing solution, which forms the waterproof covering for barns or commercial buildings, Energy Roof is a unique 'building integrated' solar photovoltaic roofing system.Our engineers have developed Energy Roof to be compatible with the market leading PV modules and to allow simple installation on the majority of roof structures such as steel (IPN, IPE, Z and sigma purlins) and timber frames.
The system is already being used on 100 buildings around Europe. If the Portland factory project works out well, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Crown Estate deploying it elsewhere. They have enough roofs to put things on...
More on Large-Scale Solar in the UK
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Old Mine Becomes 1.4MW Solar Power Plant