London Posts

Milk the Sun is pleased to confirm it’s attendance at the 15th REFF Europe event in London

Milk the Sun is pleased to announce its attendance at the 15th Renewable Energy Finance Forum in London next week at the Jumeirah Carlton Hotel – London: 18th – 19th September.

Solar in the City: How urban community solar projects can both improve the lives of residents and offer future investment opportunities.

As the mercury rises across the capital, London’s tower blocks and estates are basking in the summer sun. But beyond the beer and BBQ’s, Councils and Housing associations across the UK are feeling increasing pressure from central government to make their buildings and housing stock more energy efficient. This stems from dual concerns regarding both the environment and the increasing cost of energy, a cost which comes directly from already stretched local authority budgets.

Tower Blocks offer a great opportunity for inner city solar PV energy production.

Tower Blocks offer a great opportunity for inner city solar PV energy production.

In response to this, several proactive councils and community organizations are beginning to install PV solar panels in order to meet this demand and reduce bills for both councils and residents. Under the governments Green Deal scheme, the Edward Woods estate in Hammersmith, West London received £16m in grants to upgrade its energy efficiency, this included installing a PV solar array on the roofs of the blocks to provide electricity to residents. This scheme has so far proved helpful in reducing bills for a largely deprived community, where a large proportion of residents would be described as in ‘fuel poverty’.

 A scheme across the city in Brixton is developing community funded solar PV installations that do not rely on council money or government grants, but instead rely on private investment from both the estate’s residents and external investors. Its mission is to create ‘cooperatively owned renewable energy projects’ that benefit the community, bring down the peoples carbon footprint and substantially reduce energy bills. Run as a not for profit ‘Brixton Energy’ already has three sites across the area and is seeking investment to expand further. As a community project Brixton Energy seeks to benefit from the governments reformed FIT rates, these give higher rates to community owned energy projects that produce over 10 Megawatts of power. Investors also benefit from the governments Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) which gives a 50% tax break to those investing in the scheme. This helps to encourage small scale investment in innovative community run projects.

 Although returns on these types of investments are small (estimated at 4%), harnessing private equity for these projects is crucial, and with the government’s continued support, these projects can benefit the communities involved and yield returns for investors. These schemes, both council and privately lead, also reduce the burden on peoples and the councils pocket by sourcing organised housing units’ power needs from renewable and sustainable technology. Although problems with this approach have been identified. An  article produced by the BBC states that ‘Shares (in community solar projects) may be difficult to sell, as there is no real marketplace to do so.’

 Source:BBC News, London School of Economics, Brixton Energy


Photovoltaic in the United Kingdom – an overview

Country: United Kingdom (UK)United Kingdom UK Solar PV
Area: 244,820 km2
Population: 61.8 Million
Language: English
Government: Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy

Electricity Consumption: 341,918 GWh/Year
Electricity Import: 5,234 GWh/year
Percentage Renewable Energy: 5.1%
Percentage Photovoltaic: 0.07%
Installed Photovoltaic Output: 1 GW
Solar Irradiation: 750kWh/m2 to 1,100kWh/m2

Solar PV UK Britain Marketplace

© Katarzyna Chojnacka

Electricity and PV in the United Kingdom

The largest energy sources in the UK are Coal, Gas and Oil, comprising over three quarters of the country’s total energy production. Renewable energy is receiving more and more government support, however, due to the UK’s geographic location photovoltaic plays only a minor role in these developments. Currently only 0.07% of electricity production comes from solar installations.

Policy and Feed-in Tariffs

Since the 1st of April 2010, the United Kingdom provides feed in tariffs for renewable energy. The primary beneficiaries of these tariffs are private households. They receive subsidies when they produce electricity that is not fed back into the grid, but rather used directly at home. Installations over a total capacity of 5MW are not supported.

The original range of the subsidies was between 0.1049 €/kWp and a maximum of 0.5343 €/kWp. The following cutbacks of 2011 were further decreased in September and November 2012, with a current subsidy range of 0.0876 €/kWp to 0.19 €/kWp. The larger the installation, the lower the tariff.

Grid Parity in the United Kingdom

Net parity in the United Kingdom has still not been achieved. Predictions place grid parity in the year 2020.


The United Kingdom must fight to keep the momentum of its renewable energy development going. To this end, this year more money has been freed up. At any rate, discussions are already in progress regarding the establishment of feed in tariffs for renewables. Low acceptance in industry and politics, and well as the difficult geographic situation, do not bode well for PV development. Oft overlooked, however, is the fact that London lies farther south than Berlin – conditions exist for photovoltaic in the southern parts of the UK.

Source: British Photovoltaic Association UK Solar PV Update, November 2012

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