Let's harvest the sun: go solar!
16th July 2015
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Solar energy is, globally, the fastest growing source of renewable energy, which is not surprising as costs of this energy are falling exponentially whilst the costs of fossil fuels - both financial and environmental - are rising inexorably over the long-term. Indeed, it is predicted that solar power will be the primary energy source worldwide by 2050. So the future's bright, the future's solar!

Locally, here in Eastbourne, and Sussex generally, solar energy has a bright future due to the high solar irradiance here compared with the rest of the UK, and also due to the huge number of domestic, commercial, and community roofs available for solar installation. I've been busy helping Eastbourne & District Friends of the Earth with its Schools Run on Sun campaign to encourage more of our local schools and educational institutions to install solar power because not only can the schools save up to £8,000 per year on their energy bills, but they would also be providing a precious educational resource for their students, who would be able to learn at first hand about a cutting-edge energy technology that will be such a crucial part of their lives when they become adults.

Yet there is a huge number of other community buildings out there that could benefit from solar installations, not to mention the huge number of commercial roofs in this part of the world. But in this age of austerity, how can community groups and businesses finance the upfront costs of installation? I've been delving into this issue in some detail for some time now, and I can thoroughly recommend a new scheme that ensures that solar power can be installed for free on buildings that are high users of electricity, and the owners/users of those buildings can benefit from a very low price for electricity over 20 years, with no maintenance and insurance costs to worry about. This scheme can be accessed through Converteco Solar, a local solar company, based in Eastbourne, that is highly respected for the quality of its work and after-care service, and which is a strong supporter of the Schools Run on Sun campaign.

Converteco Solar has already installed solar on several schools in Eastbourne and is about to install a large solar system on another local school soon. It has also put solar systems on the roofs of large business premises, such as the Arndale Centre in Eastbourne. In partnership with REI, Converteco Solar can install a solar PV system which typically, based on a 50kWp system, would deliver savings on the electricity bill of £2,400 in year 1, and £132,000 in savings over 20 years, at a time when government data indicates that average electricity prices in the industrial sector are rising by 7.6% per annum.

As we live in such a sunny part of the country, it seems absurd to delay rolling out solar power as quickly and as extensively as possible, especially given the economic benefits to the whole community from having both energy bills and carbon emissions reduced through cheap, reliable, local renewable energy powered by something we all depend on anyway: the sun! So come all, all you local schools, businesses, and community groups, make hay while the sun shines!

About the Author

Andy Durling

Member since: 28th October 2013

Having left behind careers as a professional nurse and a charity administrator, and deftly weaving a delicate path through the existential crises of middle age and semi-retirement, I am currently Co-ordinator...

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