Shining a Light

Submitted by Tor Cavanagh on

Shining a Light

It might not be Summer anymore, but the sun is certainly shining here at Energy Local!

It wasn’t that long ago that solar energy used to be considered a niche source of power – not anymore! Today it is a sustainable, practical and popular choice. With increased concerns about climate change it’s no wonder people are turning to alternative forms of energy generation. We’re always trying to reduce that carbon footprint and it definitely helps that over the years the cost of installation has come down making it a more affordable option. Solar energy is now recognised as not just environmentally friendly but financially savvy too – imagine, saving money and helping the environment at the same time, sounds like a win, win to me.

Improving attitudes and accessibility to solar panels opens up opportunities for Energy Local Clubs, including using excess household PV in the club's generation. Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) are no longer available, but suppliers are starting to pay a fairer price for excess household solar generation - Octopus is now paying an impressive 15p per kWh!

Energy Local already has 3 clubs that use solar power (and more in the pipeline, including clubs that will include household PV) and we are so in the process of launching another one in Settle! The club will be made up of consumers, generators and consumer/generator members and will use as much locally generated renewable energy as possible. Settle Action for Climate Emergency has taken on the Energy Local training and is aiming to launch the club in early 2024.

Energy Local Roupell Park is another of our solar clubs. It is an initiative only available to residents living on Roupell Park Estate in Brixton, South London. We worked with Repowering London to help members to understand their energy consumption behaviours before joining the Club, and continue to work closely with them to ensure members are getting the most from the solar power generated on their own roof!

Increased accessibility to solar panels makes it easier for community members to adopt renewable energy solutions. As more households install solar panels, the potential for excess energy generation grows. Energy Local members can now capitalise on this surplus by incorporating household PV systems into the club's overall energy generation. Members can share excess energy with the community through the club, fostering a sense of collective responsibility and resource sharing.

But how does it actually work? Here’s the techy bit…

Solar power harnesses energy from the sun using photovoltaic cells, typically made of semiconductor materials like silicon. When sunlight hits these cells, photons collide with electrons in the material, releasing them and generating an electric current. An inverter converts this direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC), suitable for most appliances. The electricity can be used immediately or fed back into the grid if the solar system produces more than needed, often resulting in credits or payments through net metering

Energy Local is always evolving and growing, and now we're launching clubs with multiple solar generators and household PV.

Energy Local Clubs often focus on engaging and educating local communities about the benefits of renewable energy and the potential for community-based initiatives. This includes organising workshops and outreach programs to raise awareness and build support. Just this week Energy Local Bridport organised an all-day conference on Developing Local Energy Markets in Bath Guildhall with the aim of sharing experiences and building capacity to further develop the Energy Local model, using local renewable energy in local communities. Speakers included our very own Mary Gillie and Amy Charnley-Parry from Energy Local CIC.

As solar power takes centre stage in the global energy transition, Energy Local remains at the forefront of community energy, promoting the benefits of renewable energy within local communities. Watch this space, as the sun is shining on the future of solar power.

For Further Reading:

Explore the growing support for solar power:

UK Attitudes Towards Solar

Record High Public Support for Solar[T1] 

 [T1]These articles are pretty good for research/surveys