Category: Technology

Why solar PV is a must-have for the food production industry

Photo of fresh vegetables in a supermarket

Why solar, why now?

The current situation in the UK is a new experience for businesses of all sectors. For those in the food production industry, the coronavirus pandemic has provided both great challenges, and opportunities.

Following a wave of panic buying, supermarkets are trading “above Christmas levels”: customers spent an additional £2bn on food in March 2020. Along with intensive cleaning, social distancing, and staff shortages, supermarkets are hiring an additional 30,000 staff to keep up.

Of course, other players in the food industry have needed to adapt to a challenging and fast-moving situation. Hospitality has ground to a halt, but suppliers are moving into new verticals: supplying produce to the NHS, food delivery services, and easing the increased burden on supermarkets. Customer panic buying has not helped, creating empty shelves one week, and an increase in food waste the next.

Despite the hardships, the current situation also provides opportunities. This ability to adapt shows the food industry can think on its feet and is ripe for disruption. If, going forward, food producers are to re-evaluate the way they operate, what better time to embrace the power of renewables. Solar PV can help businesses save money, increase profits, and gain a competitive advantage.

 

Bespoke solar PV for the food industry

There are several common traits among food producers that make them an ideal candidate for commercial solar PV.

Like most manufacturers, those in the food industry typically use a lot of energy: machinery, refrigeration, and processing are all energy intensive. Such costs will only increase as firms become more automated and reduce their labour costs. The higher a firm’s energy bill, the more money they can save by generating their own solar energy. Additionally, even small to medium-sized facilities have ample roof space to install an unobtrusive system on an otherwise unused space.

As well as high usage, the energy load profile for food producers typically peaks during daylight hours. This means any self-generated solar energy can be used in real-time, ensuring the maximum benefit from the installed system. However, businesses with high night-time energy usage can also reap the benefits of solar with an additional battery storage system.

 

Financial benefits of solar

Other than materials and labour costs, energy is often one of the greatest expenses for food manufacturers. Securing lower energy costs is one of the easiest ways to gain control over your business costs. The price of electricity from the grid will climb, sometimes erratically. But solar provides long-term fixed energy costs, protecting your business from market volatility and allowing you to grow sustainably.

By cutting energy expenses, businesses can improve their bottom line and become more profitable. This also frees up budgets to invest elsewhere, such as business growth, or expansion into new verticals.

Although solar PV provides long-time financial benefits, finance is also one of the biggest barriers to adoption. Many companies feel they cannot justify the up-front expense of installing their own solar, especially in uncertain times. These customers can benefit from a Power Purchase Agreement: a finance option that allows customers to achieve on-site solar, without the usual upfront investment. You can find out more about PPAs in this article.

 

Providing a competitive advantage

By now, we all know how solar can tie into a business’s CSR initiatives. A solar array is a very visual signal of an organisation’s commitment to sustainability. This is especially important for B2C food producers. Consumers are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, and many will pay more for a greener option.

Even if you’re a B2B organisation, remember this: there’s always a consumer at the end of the supply chain. Players in the food sector such as caterers, manufacturers, and stockists may all be more inclined to choose a sustainable option to appease consumers. A stronger green policy could give your organisation an edge over its competitors, as many market leaders seem to prioritise suppliers that meet certain environmental credentials. Marks & Spencer encourages suppliers to work through its sustainability benchmark scheme: 56% of their food products comes from sites that have reduced their energy use by at least 20%. Unilever also has its own mandatory requirements for suppliers, in line with the brand’s sustainability policy.

 

Green from ‘farm to fork’

When you’ve been in the renewables industry as long as we have, you spot certain trends emerge. When we first started out, agriculture was one of the first sectors to embrace the financial benefits of solar. Now, they’re embracing renewables to engage in environmental stewardship – and it’s time for the rest of the food supply chain to catch up.

Growers and farmers are already saving carbon and energy by adopting solar, but it is critical that the often more energy-intensive and polluting parts of our food supply chain, from processing to distribution, adopt a similar stance if we are to be truly green from farm to fork.

Despite the challenges we all face, there is also the opportunity to reflect and strategize about the future direction we wish to take, a future where sustainability is the new normal.

Solving the misconceptions around commercial EVs

Photo of two EVs and EV charger

EV Myths: busted

The number of electric vehicles (EVs) on our roads is growing fast. In March 2020, there were 273,500 EVs on UK roads (including hybrid and electric-only). Further stats show that 5.7% of new car registrations are electric vehicles, with 3.2% electric-only.

However, we have a way to go to meet the government’s targets: 50% of new car sales to be electric by 2030. This target is in line with the government’s strategy for cutting C02 emissions and tackling climate change.

When it comes to meeting international climate and carbon targets, we all have a part to play – especially businesses. For brands committed to fulfilling their environmental responsibilities, the course of the next year is the perfect time to explore the EV opportunity.

The Government offers several initiatives to encourage corporate uptake of EVs. Currently, employees are exempt from Benefit in Kind tax for fully electric company cars. All new EVs are subsidised, providing customers with a discount of up to £3,000. And, all businesses and household can receive a grant of up to £350 for every EV charge point they install.

While most charging takes place at home, around 30% of people charge their EV at work. As uptake in electric cars increases, businesses will find themselves under pressure to provide more charge points for employees. These government initiatives won’t last forever: the EV charge point grant has already reduced from £500 to £350. Futureproofing for the EV revolution now allows businesses to do so at the most affordable opportunity.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of myths about commercial electric vehicles.

To set the record straight, we asked Andrew Verney – our EV charging consultant – to help us bust some common misconceptions about electric vehicles. Andrew has driven an electric vehicle for the last five years and is our trusted advisor on all EV installations.

 

EV range is not good enough for commercial use

When EVs were first developed, the limited battery capacity meant they were unsuitable for long journeys.

Now, most new EVs have a range of at least 150 miles between charges. Some, as much as 200-300 miles. Most car journeys are, of course, much shorter than this. According to the RAC Foundation, the average commute is just 10 miles in England and Wales.

Even for customers that regularly make longer journeys, a range of 150-200 miles should be enough, as the AA recommends all drivers stop for a 15-minute break every 2-3 hours. If you’re stopping anyway, you might as well charge your car for 30 minutes.

EV drivers do currently have to plan their routes more carefully than other car-owners. Not all service stations have facilities to charge EV vehicles yet – but this will change soon!

 

EVs are much more expensive

It is more expensive to buy a new EV: about 20% more than an equivalent fuel vehicle. But, new EVs are subsidised by the government to make them more affordable.

However, running an EV is around six times cheaper than a fuel car. While petrol or diesel costs around 12 pence per mile, you can charge your car overnight at home for two pence per mile. Most energy providers offer tariffs that give EV owners a good window to charge cheaply at night. Some public spaces even offer free EV charging.

Maintaining and servicing an electric car is also much cheaper. They only have about 5% of the same moving parts as a fuel car, so there’s simply less to maintain.

 

EVs take a long time to charge up

In most cases, charging an EV is something that takes place in the background. Unlike fuelling a car, you rarely go somewhere specifically to charge an electric vehicle. There are a range of different charging options, some of which take longer than others. However, the charging option (and speed) always suits charge point location.

The most popular option is home charging, usually overnight to make the most of cheaper energy tariffs. This is the cheapest option, but also the slowest: they charge at around 10-30mph. However, this slow speed is irrelevant, as you’d be at home with your vehicle anyway.

The quickest are ‘rapid’ chargers. These are usually located at service stations and ‘traditional fuelling stations. Operating at 50 kw+, these charge at a rate of 180mph or more.

Then there are ‘destination’ chargers. These are slower, but they are usually located in a place you might stay for a while. Again, the charging takes place in the background. For example, a supermarket or shopping centre. These 7-22kw chargers work at about 30-90mph. Businesses typically choose ‘rapid’ or ‘destination’ chargers.

EV charge technology is constantly advancing. Some ‘ultra-rapid’ public chargers are being installed in the UK that will provide 180 miles of charge in ten minutes.

 

There are not enough EV charge points

As previously mentioned, not all service stations feature EV charge points. As interest in EVs rises, public charge infrastructure will scale accordingly. While there are enough, more would be appreciated.

Most EVs come with Sat Nav to find charge points, but these systems are not wholly accurate. The directory is not exhaustive and cannot inform you if an EV charge point is out of order. This means many EV drivers rely on a mobile app to plot routes around EV chargers.

A flat battery is the biggest fear about EVs. However, it is just not that common. On all the major trunk roads, you’re never more than 50 miles away from an EV charge point. Plus, every EV comes with a cable that can be plugged in to charge at a normal 13-amp house socket. In an emergency, you can technically charge at any building – provided the cable reaches.  Take a look at Zap-Map to see over 30,000 public charging sockets across the UK.

 

EVs are unsuitable for a commercial fleet

Currently, there’s not much choice for electric vans and trucks. A wider range of options will emerge in the next year.

Infrastructure changes are also required. Employees who take a company van home would need to charge the EV at their property. With at least 20% of the population lacking off-street parking, this poses a potential challenge. Employers would also need to reimburse employees for charging their EV from their home energy supply.

For travelling tradespeople, there’s also the issue of charging at their destination (where necessary). There’s currently not a lot of on-street public charge points available, although this will increase shortly.  RenEnergy is working to fit EV charge points into Council car parks, where they can be used overnight by local residents who don’t have access to a personal charge point.

For now, EVs are more suitable for ‘last-mile delivery’. Many delivery drivers travel less than 100 miles per day and often return their vehicles to a depot overnight: perfect for EV charging. EVs are also more efficient for journeys that require a lot of stop-starting (such as deliveries): an electric engine completely stops when it is not in use. This means no idling and much less pollution.

Gloucestershire Constabulary is already embracing the potential of EVs. They have the largest electric fleet in the country: 21% of their fleet is fully electric.

 

EVs are unsuitable for commuters

Again, this is untrue. Unless your commute is over 50 miles each way, you should be able to comfortably commute on a fully charged EV battery.

More businesses are installing on-site EV chargers to meet employee demand – especially large companies. Remember, businesses can also receive the £350 grant for each EV charge point they install.

One thing that companies will need to negotiate is how they bill staff for the electricity to charge their vehicles. We expect that most businesses will charge employees through an app or card, just to cover the energy costs and maintaining charge points.  Some employers are offering free electricity to staff, and RenEnergy is working to install EV charging in solar carports, to help provide the renewable electricity required.

 

EVs are unpleasant to drive

Personally, I disagree. They’re much smoother and easier to drive.

They’re also much smarter than a normal car. On a cold winter’s morning, you can warm your car via an app on your phone, before you’ve even got out of bed. And when you’re in your house at night, you can check your app to ensure your car is plugged in and charging.

This level of communication is beneficial if you have solar panels. If your home array is generating a surplus of energy that would otherwise go back to the grid, you can choose to use this energy to charge your car. If not, the system knows to charge the car only using the cheap overnight grid energy.

After five years, I’m a true EV convert: I can’t imagine going back to a ‘normal’ car now.

 

Want to find out? Check out our EV charging page or get in touch with Andrew.

Your guide to Power Purchase Agreements

Photo of Briar Chemicals solar panels installed under PPA

PPAs explained

In uncertain times, making a large business investment may be the last thing on decision-makers minds’. Although solar PV offers significant long-term benefits and saving, it is rarely an essential operational expense.

However, there is an option for businesses that wish to adopt cost-effective and environmentally friendly energy without making any upfront investment. A Power Purchase Agreement provides businesses with solar electricity at a lower-than-market rate. It is the perfect option for environmentally conscious businesses that are looking to reduce their running costs but don’t have the spare budget to invest upfront.

 

What is a Power Purchase Agreement for solar?

Power purchase agreements are a funding option that allows businesses to benefit from ‘free’ solar panels.

The most traditional funding option for solar panels is CapEx. A business pays for its own solar, which is installed on their property. The business then uses self-generated solar energy, reducing their energy spend. If any extra energy is needed, it is drawn from the grid as usual.

A Power Purchase Agreement works differently. In this case, the installer enters into a long-term lease agreement with the customer, ‘renting’ the customer’s roof or ground space for a nominal fee. They then install solar panels, at no expense to the customer. Once completed, the customer then purchases their solar energy from the installer at a reduced rate.

At the end of the lease, ownership of the panels transfers to the customer. This is usually around 20-25 years, but solar PV arrays have a useful lifespan of up to 40 years. That means totally free, clean energy for the remaining 15-20-year life.

PPA solar is generated in exactly the same way as CapEx, and the installation process is the same too. The only difference is that the customer acts as the landlord, and does not own their solar panels until the end of the agreed PPA term.

 

 

What are the benefits of a PPA?

Like all solar PV installations, a PPA solar can significantly reduce your energy spend. Your installer will always sell the solar energy at a price cheaper than the market rate for grid energy. Additionally, a PPA can safeguard your business long-term against energy price hikes. The cost of energy is always rising, but this protects your business from erratic market fluctuations.

Reducing your business’s energy spend in turn helps to improve your company’s bottom line. For businesses with tight profit margins, this is incredibly valuable. It also frees up budget to invest in growth elsewhere.

One benefit of a PPA that does not apply to CapEx customers, is the exemption of business rates for solar. Unfortunately, some customers that buy and install solar on their premises are subject to an increase in business rates. The solar is seen as an asset, and makes the property more valuable. Since the government alleges to support businesses going green, we can only hope this anomaly is rectified soon. However, businesses can negotiate this by achieving solar through a PPA. The solar asset is owned by a separate entity, so the customer is not liable for an increase in rates.

Of course, the benefits of a PPA stretch beyond finance. Customers now favour sustainable brands, and will even pay more for products that are environmentally friendly. Solar panels are a very visible indicator of your company’s commitment to our planet. Your business’s green credentials could be what distinguishes your company from a competitor.

Like all investments, solar performs much better when it is carefully managed: that means thorough cleaning and servicing. While CapEx customers must arrange and finance operations and maintenance services for their own solar panels, this is included within PPA packages. This means customers benefit from regular panel cleaning and maintenance, reassured that their array is generating at its maximum capacity.

 

 

Anything else to know about Power Purchase Agreements

We’re always up-front with our customers: a Power Purchase Agreement will not save your business as much money in the short term as owning your own PV system. However, if your business cannot justify the upfront expense and ongoing running costs a power purchase agreement is a great option. Much better than no solar at all!

There are no minimum energy usage requirements on our PPAs. This means they can suitable for businesses of all sizes, with any energy usage profile. However, sites with large annual energy consumption will stand to save the most money and carbon.

And finally, rest assured that Power Purchase Agreements are flexible and non-binding. Should your business move away from its current premises, the PPA can be transferred to the new occupants with ease.

 

 

PPA case study: Briar Chemicals

We partnered with Briar Chemicals to provide a large-scale ground array through a power purchase agreement.

Based in Norwich, Briar Chemicals is committed to providing high-quality chemical products in an environmentally friendly way. With profit margins tight in the manufacturing sector, a PPA provided a sustainable option for the business to improve its bottom line.

The 1.9 MW array features 6,500 solar panels and 76 inverters. Each year, the system generates 1,800,000 kWh of electricity: enough to power 400 homes. It also saves 860,000 kg of C02. Over 70% of the electricity is consumed on-site and the rest is exported elsewhere, easing pressure on the local energy grid.

It was our pleasure to work with this iconic local brand, and we’re pleased to say Briar Chemicals were impressed with the results.

Tim Green, Executive Director and Site Manager said: “This is an exciting project; it will allow us to use power generated from the sun and use it within our manufacturing processes.  This will enable us to focus on the production of cost-effective high-quality chemicals, knowing that we are doing so in an extremely environmentally friendly way.”

 

For more information, check out our PPA product page, or get in touch.

Why do I need a technical feasibility study for my solar panels?

Site survey documents for technical feasibility study

What is a technical feasibility study?

Installing solar panels isn’t a complicated process: especially if you have over 15 years’ experience (like us). However, there’s more to it than just sticking some solar panels to a roof. Especially when you consider large scale commercial solar PV and solar carports.

In order for our installations to be as safe and effective as possible, we complete thorough technical feasibility studies before we start installing. While this does lengthen the lead time for a project, we always factor in these tests before agreeing to any timescales. We think that being upfront about this process helps us to deliver on time and to budget.

 

What’s included in a technical feasibility study for solar?

Technical feasibility studies vary, depending on the scope of your installation. The explanations below describe some of the common tests conducted in a feasibility study. Not all solar installations will require every single test listed below: this is just an indicative guide.

Our projects vary because each of them is bespoke. The exact feasibility studies required will depend on the specifics of the site. More complex projects may require further tests. Your project manager will advise on the specifics of your installation.

When preparing a financial estimate for a customer, we outline the cost of the feasibility studies separately to financially protect customers. We do not ask customers to pay a deposit based on a proportion of the total cost. Sometimes, installation plans change following the results of the feasibility study, so this ensures the customer never ends up out of pocket.

 

G99: Permit to connect to the local distribution network

Almost all commercial solar PV arrays will require a G99 Permit. This provides permission for a solar installation to connect to the grid.

We manage the G99 permit application to the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) on behalf of the client. This includes preparing the application form and associated documentation, as well as liaising with the DNO.

 

Technical site surveys

The number and complexity of the on-site surveys required will depend on location, the complexity of the site and install.  For example, a solar carport will require more in-depth surveys than a roof-top installation. However, every install will require some form of on-site technical site survey.

Surveys may include:

  • Topographical survey: Highlights any difference between the true levels and gradients of the land at the project site, and those presupposed in preliminary designs. A good topographical survey ensures durable construction.
  • Utilities survey: Allows underground utility locations to be supplied as a CAD drawing referencing a digital topographical survey to be used in the detailed design where piling is required.
  • Pull-out tests: Assesses whether the existing substrate can accommodate the wind loading associated with the solar carport.
    Structural survey and reporting: Ensure the existing roof can accommodate the additional loading of the solar panels and ballast.

Planning

Planning permission is required for ground-mounted arrays, solar carports and if your planned install is located within the curtilage of a listed building.  RenEnergy has an in-house expertise to manage the planning process on behalf of our clients with 100% success rate on all our applications.

 

Detailed design

The findings of the technical site surveys, will inform the detailed design of your proposed installation, including:

  • System sizing in terms of generating capacity, physical size, location and orientation of major components.
  • Detailed specification of major components allowing an accurate capital cost for the systems to be calculated, including yield and ROI (Return on Investment) analysis.

 

Technical feasibility studies: part of the package

RenEnergy prides itself on the quality and performance of our installs.  A comprehensive technical feasibility study ensures that this is the case.

To ensure our projects are as smooth as possible, we work with an in-house team of technical consultants to arrange any technical feasibility studies as required. After conducting a thorough assessment of your business, our consultants will present you with the best option for your energy needs.

Get in touch to find out more about technical consultancy and commercial solar PV from RenEnergy.

Why should I get my solar PV system serviced and cleaned?

photo of solar panel service and cleaning in East Anglia

Does my solar PV system need a service?

Solar panels are a hardy and long-lasting product. They need to be, as they’re constantly exposed to the elements. Once installed, most solar panels will generate indefinitely, with little to no input from the customer. That’s why solar is such a safe investment.

However, like all investments, solar performs best when it is carefully managed and maintained. A solar array that’s generating at its maximum capacity saves customers the most money and provides the best return on investment.

Keep reading for more reasons why your solar panels could benefit from an operations and maintenance service.

 

Solar panel servicing protects your stable investment

No business exists in a vacuum. World events can create a big impact on a company: from disrupted supply chains to market instability. Something could happen tomorrow that throws your business completely off-kilter.

But no matter what’s going on in the world, the sun will keep shining. Global weather patterns may be shifting due to climate change, but the UK still receives a similar amount of sunshine every year. If your business has solar panels, that equates to a predictable return on investment annually.

 

You could be missing FiT payments

If your solar array was installed under the Feed-In Tariff (FiT) scheme, you may be eligible to receive monthly payments for any unused electricity you sell back to the grid.

But, if your solar is not performing as it should, you could be missing out on FiT payments. Less energy generated means less spare energy exported back to the grid. FiT payments can provide an additional revenue stream for businesses, without any additional effort or overheads. This is a valuable opportunity for companies to improve their bottom line, and increase profitability.

 

A solar PV service ensures your system is working

We speak to a lot of business owners who judge whether their solar is working from their bank statements. As long as they’re receiving their FiT payments, they assume it’s performing as it should. And so it might be. But, the only way to know for sure is through a remote monitoring system.

As a best practice, we routinely install remote monitoring systems with all our solar arrays. However, older arrays or systems not installed by us may not have this.

Just because you’re receiving a FiT payment doesn’t mean your system is performing at its peak. You could be receiving just a fraction of the payment you’d be entitled to, was your system generating correctly.

Remote monitoring provides a full picture of energy generated, as well as an important indicator of any faults in the system. Our operations and maintenance team can check this from the office, and dispatch an engineer to carry out repairs if needed.

 

Some PV arrays need more cleaning than others

Solar panels generate electricity when sunlight hits a wafer of silicon cells contained within it. If the surface of the panel is very dirty, light cannot reach the silicon and the panel cannot generate electricity.

Since the UK receives plenty of rainfall, most solar panels are regularly rinsed and this is enough to keep them performing efficiently. However, customers who work in particularly dirty industries may need a deeper clean. For example, agricultural and manufacturing businesses may experience more heavily-soiled panels. Our O&M team has all the necessary equipment and training to clean roof and ground panels safely and effectively.

Customers in rural areas may also require more maintenance than urban businesses. Nesting birds, pests, and overhanging trees can all hinder the performance of solar panels.

 

A lot can change in a decade

Over the last ten years, the popularity of solar has really taken off. Businesses might have solar systems that are easily 9-10 years old, without ever having serviced or assessed them.

You wouldn’t have any other piece of business equipment that you didn’t service or monitor for ten years, so why would you do it with the thing that produces your electricity? Ten years is plenty of time for panels to become dirty, or experience wear and tear. Even factors like tree growth could affect the performance of your panels and should be assessed.

 

Partner in power for your PV installation and service

We provide operations and maintenance servicing for a number of agricultural, industrial, and corporate customers. Our services include:

  • Remote system monitoring
  • Technical telephone support
  • Quarterly performance reports
  • FiT assessments
  • Cleaning services
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Inverter servicing

For more information, visit our servicing webpage, or get in touch.

First Subsidy Free Solar Farm

This week saw the opening of the UK’s first solar farm that was built in the absence of any government support.

Clayhill Solar Farm in Bedfordshire has paved the way for subsidy free installations on a large scale. It  has a capacity of 10 MW, which is enough energy to power 2,500 homes. Clayhill received no Renewables Obligation contract nor was it offered a Contracts for Difference. Therefore, Anesco, the company behind the installation, had to make savings elsewhere.

Anesco has a four year relationship with Chinese manufacturer BYD, alowing them to reduce their prices for the 30,000  315 W poly solar cells and 6 MW of battery storage.

Huawei supplied 1,500 V inverters, with Anesco the first company to use Huawei in Europe. Each inverter has a maximum power point tracker and 12 directly connected string inputs. This improves the flexibility of the PV strings and maximising yields.

Another significant reduction in cost is down to a neighbouring 5 MW solar farm with already established grid connections.

The site is estimated to export 9,000 MWh of energy each year. This will be backed up by revenue streams linked to the batteries. Clayhill will bid for revenue streams from various tenders when it is ready. Including, the Capacity Market and the Enhanced and Fast Frequency Response. Once the site has pre-qualified for Capacity Market tenders in mid-November the batteries will be turned on.

Excellent planning and shrewd business acumen has made this Clayhill a viable endeavour, that is sure to be inspiration for any future solar farm.

 

 

RenEnergy gains OLEV certification to install Rolec and EO electric vehicle charge points

OLEV, EV Charging

RenEnergy is now fully certified by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to install home charge points for electric and plugin hybrid cars. The certification allows our customers to take advantage of the OLEV grant, a government subsidy of up to £500 for the purchase and installation of an EV charge point.

Home charging is the most cost effective way to charge your electric or plugin hybrid vehicle.

Capable of saving you £000’s per year, a dedicated charge point is both faster, and more efficient than a conventional three-pin plug.

With EV charging costs as little as 2p per mile on standard electricity supplies, it is not hard to see why electric vehicles are predicted to account for 35% of all new car sales by 2040.

Many of our solar solar PV customers could see even greater savings when charging during sunlight hours, harnessing the sun to power their cars as well as their homes.

You can read a full overview of the OLEV scheme HERE, but in brief:

  • Government subsidy for 75% of the value, up to £500, for the purchase and installation of a home charge point.
  • The registered owner of any eligible electric or plugin hybrid vehicle qualifies for the grant.
  • The grant can only be claimed on your behalf by an OLEV certified installer (like RenEnergy).
  • You can claim one charge point grant per eligible vehicle.

Of course, charging doesn’t need to be a solely home based activity. Many owners will use their EV for the daily commute, so why not speak to your employers and ask about installing charge points at the office. We can even offer very attractive profit share schemes for businesses that will offer pay-per-pay charging to the public.

RenEnergy is a certified to install both Rolec and EO chargers, so if you have recently purchased an electric or plugin hybrid vehicle, or are thinking of investing in a low cost future; give RenEnergy a call to discuss the best solution for you.

 

Tom Lloyd

07766181810

01603713448

Biomimicry inspires new solar panel innovation

A decision is set to be made this evening over a 5MW solar farm planned for development on the site of a former quarry.

Engineers from the University of Exeter have discovered that mimicking the stance of a butterfly getting ready to take off can boost the efficiency of solar panels by almost 50 percent.

The common Cabbage White butterfly warms its muscles before taking flight using a technique known as reflectance basking, where it uses its wings to reflect the sun’s energy onto its body.

Reflectance basking is made possible by specific sub-structures in the butterflies’ wings that reflect light from the sun very efficiently.

A team from the Environment and Sustainability Institute and the Centre for Ecology and Conservation in Exeter found that by applying a similar wing-like structure to solar panels, and artificially replicating the layer of reflective scales covering butterflies’ wings, the power-to-weight ratio of a panel can be dramatically increased, making it more efficient.

Tapas Mallick, the lead author of the paper explains: “Biomimicry in engineering is not new. However, this truly multidisciplinary research shows a pathway to develop low cost solar power that has not been done before.”

Richard French-Constant, a co-author on the paper, adds: “This proves that the lowly Cabbage White is not just a pest of your cabbages but actually an insect that is an expert at harvesting solar energy.”