30 council homes, an office and a number of schools in Bristol are set to benefit from a more efficient energy system thanks to a £2.8 million solar partnership.
The new project, known as SoLa Bristol, will benefit from the solar photovoltaic panels previously installed as part of the SMART City Programme in Knowle West. The panels are linked to battery storage, which will enable the use of the solar generated energy at times when the sun does not shine. In addition to this the homes will be fitted with Direct Current (DC) lighting systems that will be powered directly from the batteries. There is also the facility to charge USB devices directly from the DC. They’re also linked to the local electricity network, enabling lead partner Western Power Distribution to call on this stored energy in periods of high demand at an agreed tariff.
The scheme, which is grant-funded through Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund, has been running in two test homes in Knowle West for over a month and is currently being rolled out to the rest of the properties. It will run for three years and will help make the local electricity network smarter and more efficient through close monitoring of usage and calling on the extra power when required. The scheme is expected to reduce carbon emissions and the energy bills of the people taking part, something which will be closely measured by academic partner the University of Bath, who will analyse and report on the project findings in 2015.
Western Power Distribution and Siemens are leading the technological design and installation work. Bristol City Council is deploying the technology at its homes and schools. Knowle West Media Centre is leading on community liaison.
George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol said:
“As we gear up for Bristol’s year as European Green Capital in 2015 I’ve said that the city should be acting as a laboratory for change, becoming a test bed for innovative projects. Here we have a perfect example of the living lab, with Knowle West trying out a new and different approach to solar energy.
“We need to lower our carbon output, encourage cleaner energy use and tackle the social and economic inequalities between different parts of Bristol. SoLa Bristol contributes to all three of these important aims and I’m absolutely delighted to see it up and running.”
On Thursday 10 October the Mayor visited one of the test homes for the scheme, seeing it in action and meeting resident Lee Moore, who’s been living with the new solar panels for just over a month.
“The solar panels and batteries are great. They’re hooked up to power my lights, sockets and a USB charger. I’m really happy to be taking part in the scheme. Energy prices have been going up so it’s brilliant to have something that will work in my favour.”
Western Power Distribution is the main partner in the scheme, and will benefit from being able to call on the customers’ stored energy to supplement the local electricity network in times of high demand. This could well avoid the need for expensive and disruptive re-enforcement of the network in the future.
Mark Dale from Western Power Distribution said:
“This project has the potential to benefit all parties involved. The customer through better more efficient use of the Solar Panels, Western Power Distribution through the use of the stored energy to supplement the local network and Bristol City Council by reducing their carbon emissions.
“This is only one of several Western Power Innovation Projects funded by Ofgem. As a Bristol based company, this puts Bristol at the cutting edge of innovation technology within the electricity industry.”