UK solar energy potential under study

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Academics and industry partners are embarking on a research project into the potential costs and benefits of solar energy in the UK. 

Prof Ralph Gottschalg, Dr Paul Rowley and Dr Tom Betts at Loughborough University’s Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST), alongside academics from Imperial College London, will collaborate with aerial mapping company Bluesky on the £1m ‘PV2025’ project.

The project aims to answer a number of questions relating to the production of energy through solar panel electricity systems and how geography, legislation and social factors might impact on the costs and benefits to the country.

The project is funded by the EPSRC and led by CREST. Other project partners include E.ON and SMA Solar UK.

In a statement, Loughborough University’s Dr Paul Rowley, senior lecturer in Renewable Energy Systems, said: ‘Working with Bluesky will be critical as they bring a wealth of experience and expertise to this project having launched the first maps of solar potential back in 2010.’

James Eddy, technical director of Bluesky International said: ‘Over an eighteen month period we assessed the solar potential of more than half a million properties working with energy companies, local authorities, housing associations as well as property owners and solar panel installers.

‘We developed a unique method of generating solar potential maps using photogrammetric techniques to accurately measure and record factors that may contribute to the suitability for solar power.’

The PV2025 project will consider photovoltaic (PV) energy production in the national context, looking at how PV systems of different sizes or regional differences in environmental conditions affect factors such as energy generation and the infrastructure required to effectively distribute this energy.

The PV2025 project will be split into four work packages including analysis of impacts on the electricity network and detailed mapping of issues such as reductions in fuel poverty arising from PV. Tools developed during the project will be made available for general use.