We are very excited to be able to say that our main office now runs on solar pv energy during the day. In fact, unless the cloud cover is very heavy we are producing far more energy than we consume, so it gets fed back into the National Grid, reducing (in theory) the UK's carbon footprint.
It is only our first week but so far we are extremely pleased with the performance of our 4kWp array. April has had seen an unseasonable heat wave in the UK this year, during which we were producing well in excess of 20kWh a day (with peak output being around 3,500W). As I type this it is mid-morning and heavily overcast, but they are still producing over 400W - enough to power our computers and LED lights.
The company we used to advise us, survey our location and perform the installation was Cambridge Solar Ltd, and they made the whole process a pleasure. As part of their business survey, they produced 3D models of our premises, which they then geolocated in Google Earth, so we could experiment with different panel configurations, and see how the shadows fell on the roof at any time of the day, any day of the year. This was extremely useful (and impressive!).
The finished design consists of two arrays, both south-facing, but wired separately to the inverter. This means that should one array get a shadow cast over it the output from the other shouldn't be affected (in normal wiring plans, a single shadow can adversely affect the entire system).
Another non-standard design tweak that we requested was the wiring from the inverter to our mains feed. Normally, an energy monitor will get confused when monitoring a building's energy usage, if the building is also generating its own power by solar / wind etc. Cambridge Solar configured our wiring so that it is easy to directly monitor just the output from our panels. We are using this facility to monitor the panels' performance over the Internet (we are a web company after all!). This is already working so we can check via our mobiles etc, and we have created a public page so you can see what they are currently generating. Hopefully this will help other organisations (and domestic users) in our area gauge how viable solar PV would be for them.
To check our own monitoring system is accurate, we also have a gadget in our office, linked to the inverter via bluetooth, that records a huge variety of statistics for the current day, week, month etc, and of course we have a normal meter to show the total power output of the system since installation. Our monthly stats are archived here.
Businesses can definitely save significant money by generating their own electricity, and with the government's generous Feed in Tariffs (FiT) there is even more incentive to invest in this environmentally friendly form of power.
|Cambridge Solar perform free site surveys and can also conduct detailed energy reviews for your business. We wholeheartedly recommend you give them a call!|
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