solar solutions

How to care for your garden and keep your pool warm using Sustainable Energy

Now that the Spring sunshine has returned – at least some of the time – we can all start to think about spending more time outdoors. For those of us lucky enough to have a garden, this is the perfect time to plan how to power various elements of it sustainably. The more renewable energy we can use in our garden and outdoor areas, the less reliance we need to have on the National Grid and finite fossil fuels. Other benefits include a reduced carbon footprint, greater energy efficiency and cost savings.

From outdoor heated swimming pols to water features, irrigation systems and greenhouse lighting and heating, gardens can take up a lot of energy to keep them looking at their best and cultivating healthy plants. The bigger the garden, the higher the electricity bills. This is especially true during the colder months. We might be in Spring now, but there are still days when the skies are greyer and the temperature lower than many of us would like. Yet, the plants still need to be watered and protected from the worst of the cold spells – and the swimming pool is so much nicer to use when the water is lovely and warm.

Here are some outdoor areas that could benefit from sustainable energy sources, such as solar power and photovoltaic cells installed on the roof of the nearest building. From eco-friendly pool heating to renewable ways to power water fountains, there are so many ways to harness the electricity-generating power of the sun’s rays over the coming season.

Outdoor swimming pool

Solar energy is a highly effective sustainable pool heating solution that can provide heat all year round. It can provide an extended swimming season too, especially if you install solar water heaters to take the chill off the water in the Spring and Autumn. Using solar energy for pools is a quick and easy way to save on electricity bills without having to cover the pool up for long periods of time. Other pool area considerations can also include using solar powered equipment such as jet washers to keep the surrounding walkways clean and free from garden debris. Just a few green pool solutions to think about when considering installing solar panels this year.

Lighting the way

Solar powered lights are becoming very popular among garden designers and enthusiasts. They can highlight chosen plants, statues and other garden elements beautifully and line paths and driveways to help people find their way and stay safe in the garden and grounds after dark. There are so many ways to use solar lights in the garden, including lighting up garden ponds and switching to low-energy LED lights for porch lights, wall lights and hanging atmospheric lanterns in trees. Don’t forget to keep a few solar powered torches charged up for emergency use outside at night. These can also be helpful when cleaning solar panels in duller weather or after dusk.

Fountains and other ornamental water features

Gardens featuring flowing water offer an all-round sensory experience with sounds playing as important a role as sights and scents. If you have a fountain or other water feature in your garden, consider running it using renewable energy such as solar power. The cabling to set it up is not complex and energy can be drawn from solar panels on the roof of the house or shed to reduce installation expenses. If you have fish in the pond that rely on water being pumped through it, have a plan to continue providing electricity to the pump after dark, when solar panels will not be able to provide sufficient power alone. An energy storage battery would work well, or a hybrid system that enables you to switch to National Grid power when required.

Plant watering and care

Irrigation systems can save gardeners a great deal of time and effort, especially if they have a lot of plants to water. This type of system can be powered by solar energy for a more sustainable approach to plant care. Other watering solutions can also use solar power, including sprinklers, self-timed devices and drip irrigation kits for hanging baskets and pots. Plants being grown in the greenhouse also need careful attention when it comes to light and heat – again, these systems can be powered using solar energy to reduce electricity bills and increase crop yield. Perfect for growing salad plants, ready for lots of post-swimming pool lunches outdoors in the Summer.

energy-saving appliances

 Solar Smarts: Keeping your fridge cold and your wallet happy

We all rely on our fridge to keep perishable foods cold and fresh for longer. However, it can use a fair bit of electricity as it is never turned off at the mains. If you are looking at ways of lowering electricity bills, the fridge may not, therefore be your first thought. However, there can be several cost savings to be found via refrigerator efficiency measures that could become part of more sustainable living. These include switching to solar battery storage instead of relying on mains electricity to power your fridge and freezer.

Here are some more fridge and freezer energy efficiency tips for you to think about, ahead of the late spring and summer seasons.

Keep it clean

We all like to see a clean, hygienic and mess-free fridge. However, how many of us regularly clean the outside of the fridge as well as the inside? Dust and dirt that builds up on the condenser coils at the back of the fridge can stop the fridge from cooling properly, putting pressure on its mechanisms and reducing its efficiency by as much as one-quarter of its normal capabilities. Pull the fridge out so that you can access to the condenser coils and gently vacuum them to get rid of surface dust. Use a brush to shift any stubborn dust or dirt for greater energy efficiency. Vacuum underneath the fridge too, to stop any dust or dirt getting clogged up in the mechanisms and reducing energy efficiency.

Check the seals

If your fridge or freezer doors won’t close properly, the cold air will escape, leading to inefficient cooling and a lower return on investment (ROI). Your appliance will need to work harder and use more electricity to replace the cool air and keep your food chilled or frozen. Check the door seals regularly for signs of damage, warping or hardening. You can usually replace them yourself for very little money, helping keep the costs of energy management down. Keep a regular eye on temperatures inside the fridge or freezer to make sure that the seals are working properly.

Savvy storage

Never put hot food straight into the fridge, such as leftovers or freshly-baked goods. Allow them to cool down first on the side, or on a cooling rack. This will stop the heat from the newly introduced food from raising the temperature inside the fridge. Don’t leave leftovers sitting on the side for more than two hours for food safety reasons, however. If you have time, defrost frozen food slowly inside the fridge rather than leaving it out, or using your microwave’s ‘defrost’ function. The much lower temperatures of the defrosting food will help cool the rest of the refrigerator and reduce the work it has to do to keep everything cold inside.

Think before you open – or restock the fridge

Don’t overload the fridge, or it will be harder to keep things cool and prevent spillages inside. Keep it reasonably full, though, so you are not paying to chill empty space. Try not to open the door too often, or keep it open for too long. This will let

more warm air inside, reducing the effects of your energy-saving appliances on the electricity usage and household bills.

Choose energy-saving appliances

If it is time to upgrade your fridge or freezer, or you are looking for a second or even third model for extra food storage, choose an energy-efficient model, or one that can run using renewable energy. Check the energy rating of your energy-saving appliances to find the best one for sustainable living. Usually, the ratings go from A (most energy-efficient) down to G. You should balance the energy efficiency rating with size, price, capacity and other considerations when choosing your new fridge or freezer.

Solar panel installation

Last, but by no means least, solar panel installation really can make a huge difference to electricity costs. This is not just for fridges and freezer, but throughout the house. Households can enjoy maximising solar savings by switching wholly or partially to off-grid power for running kitchen and other appliances. Collecting solar power during the day means that any excess can be transferred to solar battery storage. This ensures that your fridge and freezer can continue to be powered throughout the night to keep food chilled or frozen and ready to enjoy.

commercial solar panels

Why your business should invest in commercial solar panels

Solar panels on houses and domestic properties are now commonplace. Numbers of people seeking to change to a more sustainable way of living are increasing every year. However, domestic life is not the only avenue towards trying to live a greener existence. Commercial solar panels are a great way to reduce energy bills, lower your business’s reliance on fossil fuels and show your customer base that you don’t just ‘talk the talk’ when it comes to choosing eco-friendly options for your energy sourcing. Here are five commonly asked questions about installing commercial solar panels.

Does my business need planning permission for commercial solar panels?

As a general rule, planning permission is not needed for businesses installing commercial solar panels. However, this may not be the case everywhere, so it is important to double check before committing to any orders or dates for starting work. Make sure you know any legal restrictions that may apply. These could include size, number and shape of panels, where they can be installed and at what angle. If you don’t own the building in which your business operates, you will need the landlord’s permission to carry out the installation. They may need to look into whether or not they are allowed to agree to the work under the terms of their mortgage or other lending company, as well as the local council or authorities.

What do I need to consider when choosing commercial solar panels?

There are several factors to think about, from cost to chosen specifications. An immediate question is whether your chosen surface is physically suitable to have commercial solar panels installed. Can it take their weight, will it get enough exposure to the sun and will it cause an eyesore for neighbours etc. Will the energy it produces really end up offsetting your current energy bills enough to justify the initial expense of the solar panels? Who should you choose to install the panels? Always do your research to find a reputable company. Decent companies should have a history of good reviews, non-pushy sales techniques and a reputation for excellent customer service.

How do commercial solar panels work?

The system works by converting energy from the sun into useable electricity. This is done via photovoltaic cells that are arranged into panels and installed on flat surfaces with exposure to the sun. Solar energy is converted into DC electricity that then flows into an inverted that changes it to an AC current. This can then be fed into the property and used to power lights, heat, appliances etc., just like electricity from conventional sources. Any surplus energy generated from commercial solar panels can be stored in a battery for use when conditions are darker. This can be during cloudy weather conditions or at night. Or it can be sold back to the National Grid to offset the installation costs.

What benefits will commercial solar panels bring to my business?

The financial benefits are clear – reductions in bills from conventional energy sources to help with overheads, potential to sell surplus electricity back to the National Grid, as well as eligibility for grants to help support sustainable changes to businesses. However, having commercial solar panels also helps motivate and retain employees with a desire to work for eco-conscious companies. This can also help companies strengthen relationships with customers and industry peers. Commercial solar panels can also play a large part in helping you move closer to your stated goals to achieve net zero carbon emissions, gain energy independence and help combat the effects of climate change.

How much will commercial solar panels cost?

The answer to this question really does depend on the size and type of panels being considered. There may also be additional costs associated with checking the property is suitable for their installation, or in upgrading or expanding on existing photovoltaic systems. There may be grants and loans available to help with initial installation costs. If your business can sustain the initial outlay, it can read large rewards over the longer term, as energy costs reduce. Many installation companies include an element of after-sales support and annual maintenance in their quote, and/or offer competitive rates for regular servicing contracts and repair work.

Solar panel future trends: our top six predictions

Solar panel future trends: our top six predictions

The capabilities and scope of solar power have increased rapidly over the past decade or so. Signs are that this evolution will continue at a similarly dramatic speed as we head towards the second quarter of the 21st Century. Solar panel trends are informed by the growing need for alternative, renewable energy sources. Pressure on fossil fuels and traditional energy sources is increasing, which in turn is contributing to climate change and irrevocable damage to the planet’s ecosystems.

Solar power future trends

Switching to solar power is just one way in which homes and businesses can contribute to a more sustainable way of sourcing and using energy. The technology has benefited from numerous innovations, attention and funding from around the world. Here are six solar power future trends that we are expecting to see in the coming months and years ahead.

  • Clever technological developments

Alongside advancements in photovoltaic panel efficiency, there are several other future solar panel trends around developments in technology. Thes include the increasing use of AI and internet connectivity to control and optimise solar panel performance. Other areas being researched include using nano materials, as well as fitting photovoltaic cells into roof tiles and walls and creating transparent panels to go in windows and skylights. All of these developments will offer architects innovative solutions to ‘hide’ solar panels more effectively and allow greater design flexibility.

  • Increased domestic take-up

As alternative energy becomes more prevalent, and commonplace, it is likely that increasing numbers of domestic homes will invest in solar power. This is one of the solar panel future trends that is informed by increases in efficacy and cost. As the technology evolves, so the amount of energy that a single photovoltaic panel can produce will increase. More energy produced per panel will mean that fewer units will be needed to power the home and installation and maintenance costs will fall. It also goes without saying that increased efficiency will lead to greater demand – and higher demands for domestic solar energy storage solutions. Battery capacities are expected to increase, and with them, safety measures and charging solutions will improve.

  • Increased commercial take-up

Additionally, greater emphasis on sustainable working methods and reducing carbon usage is informing many commercial mission statements, strategies and plans. This will lead to increased interest in solar technology and its many benefits, from the financial bottom line (saving energy costs) to the PR department (positive publicity). Solar power can represent a firm and very public commitment to green working practices for savvy business owners with an eye on solar panel future trends.

  • Increased support from governments and policymakers

In addition, greater investment in larger-scale solar projects like solar farms by the utility companies are bringing renewable energy far more to policymakers’ attention. This is likely to attract government funding and partnership working to ensure that the development of these larger-scale solar panel future trends can benefit entire communities, towns or even, one day, countries. Solar power will also become more prominent in government policy making around feed-in tariffs, renewable energy targets and initiatives to encourage public uptake in renewable energy solutions.

  • Sustainable living trends

Solar power, despite being a green energy solution in and of itself, could also become instrumental in driving other sustainable solutions in the fight against climate change. Some of the more intriguing solar panel future trends evolve around this concept. They include solar powered drones to monitor crops, survey land and record climate data. Solar panels could also power drones that deliver packages, thus reducing reliance on road vehicles for this type of logistics. Innovations in solar powered water treatment plants could also develop, helping to reduce the amount of carbon emissions and fossil fuels needed to purify water.

  • Transport sector and infrastructure

Solar powered vehicles are an inevitable part of solar panel future trends. The drive for sustainable living is extending to our transport systems, with electric and hybrid vehicles now an established sight on the roads. Installing solar panels to power electric vehicle charging stations could be another direction to take. Solar panels can also be developed for caravans and motor homes for greener energy on the move. Other solar panel future trends around transportation could include solar powered roads that integrate panels that can power streetlights, traffic signals, advertising hoardings and electronic display boards, amongst other civic and transport infrastructure.

woman setting goals for her New Year's Resolutions

Six Greener Living New Year’s Resolutions for 2023

A new year is almost upon us – traditionally a time when we reflect on the past twelve months and look ahead to the next twelve. Many people find making New Year’s Resolutions a helpful way to plan, devise and publicly state their good intentions for the year ahead. So, alongside the plans to eat better, exercise more and learn a new skill, here are some ideas to help make 2023 your greenest living year yet.

Switch on to renewable energy

Many homes and businesses still rely on the National Grid for power, light and heat. However, using sustainable energy sources instead is becoming simpler and more affordable than ever before. Switching to sustainable energy sources, such as solar power systems and photovoltaic panels, brings benefits to your pocket thanks to lower energy bills, while helping the planet at the same time. Other options for switching to renewable energy include air source heat pumps and biomass systems.

Use electricity wisely

Even after switching to solar power for electricity generation, there is still more that can be done to reduce energy usage and live more sustainably. Turn devices off at the mains when not using them, or switch them to eco mode if they have this feature. Use LED light bulbs instead of the older filament types for more cost-effective and efficient domestic or commercial lighting. Dial the thermostat down a couple of degrees and put on a jumper if you feel cold. Choose appliances with higher energy efficiency ratings for longer-term electricity savings.

Recycle, recycle, recycle

We have all taken to recycling the packaging of common items like plastics, cardboard and tin cans. However, there is still plenty more that can be recycled and reused to help keep things out of landfill and reduce the energy use required to make new items. Clothing is one example – visit charity shops and second hand online markets to see what ‘preloved bargains’ you can find. Pass children’s clothes on to others to get more use out of them. Cut up really old clothes and use them for cleaning cloths. Save glass bottles to take to the bottle bank and reuse glass jars for keeping small bits safe, such as screws and nails.

Savvy shopping skills

Another way to keep landfill sizes down is to buy reusable products wherever possible. Shops are gearing up more and more to help people fulfil this goal. Some examples of reusable products now readily available include sustainable water bottles, cloth nappies, cotton shopping bags and metal straws. Avoid fruit and vegetables with excessive packaging and instead bring your own bags to take them home in. Be prepared to pay a little more for products built to last, such as better quality shoes or toys that will last longer before needing to be replaced.

Go green with your toiletries

This is a really good place to start with greener New Year’s Resolutions. It needn’t cost a lot of money to start making a real difference. For example, switch to eco-friendly toilet paper made from bamboo to help save trees and water. Choose plastic-free soaps, shampoos and conditioners for a further sustainable impact. Solid soap and shampoo bars can also be more environmentally-friendly, as they cut down on the amount of packaging needed as opposed to liquid alternatives that come in large plastic bottles.

Paperless promises

Offices up and down the country are pledging to cut down the amount of paper they use in a bid to eventually become paperless. This is something that can be replicated at home. Some examples of easy changes to make include no longer printing out emails, requesting electronic bank statements instead of paper ones, using pretty material to wrap presents and using cloud-based storage for important files and apps for to-do lists and reminder notes. Send loved ones photographs and digital greetings cards to help them reduce the amount of paper and cardboard entering their homes as well.

Finally, don’t just plan out your New Year’s Resolutions – act on them as quickly as you can. If you are interested in finding out more details about installing solar power in your business or home, contact the experts at UPS in early January for an initial, no-obligation consultation. It may be dark outside right now, but getting started now will mean that your photovoltaic panels can be in place in time for the longer daylight hours of spring and summer 2023.

How solar panel systems can help you sell your house

Installing solar panels brings many benefits. These include promoting a greener way of living and reducing reliance on the National Grid. However, when it comes to selling a property with solar panels attached, these benefits could prove even more compelling. There is more and more evidence that solar panels help sell a home. It has been estimated that homes with solar panels can sell for around 4.1% more than those without (SOURCE: https://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/solar-panels/buying-or-selling-a-house-with-solar-panels). A National Home Energy Survey also revealed that 65% of those asked revealed a preference for buying somewhere that already had a working solar panel system installed (SOURCE: https://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/solar-panels/buying-or-selling-a-house-with-solar-panels).

Why solar power sells

Once a solar panel system is up and running, it saves the householder, or property owner money on their electricity bills. It does this by powering the property via the sun’s rays, converted into useable electricity via photovoltaic (PV) panels and associated technology. However, the initial outlay of buying and installing a solar PV system is not insignificant for most household budgets. In fact, it can take a few years for the investment to break even and start saving money – as many as ten or 15 years.

By having everything in place when you buy a property, this outlay has already been made by the previous owners. So, this need not feature in the new owner’s budgeting plans, beyond general maintenance and upgrades as required. Here are some more reasons why solar power systems already installed can be a draw for house hunters.

1. Save on electricity bills

As the solar panel system is already in place, savings can start to be seen on energy bills from the start – when compared to conventional energy sources. It is thought that the average household with a solar energy system installed would only need half the electricity from the National Grid than those without photovoltaic panels on the roof. Buying a house is an expensive time, with all the extra costs that accompany the purchase. So, any extra help with paying the utility bills will be very attractive to prospective buyers

2. Make money on unused electricity

In addition to saving money on bills, new house owners could enjoy an income from the electricity they do not use. This can be sold back to the National Grid under the UK Government’s Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme. For houses that had their solar panels fitted prior to the SEG scheme overtaking the previous Feed-in Tariff (FIT) arrangements, which ended in April 2019, the financial benefits could be even higher. Check out the latest position with regards to this online when you come to sell the property to keep potential buyers informed.

solar panels help sell a house
Solar panel on a wooden house

3. Help combat climate change

It is a well-known fact that sustainable energy sources are a powerful weapon in the fight against climate change. Solar panels can help a household save significantly on the amount of carbon it produces every year. Additionally, the reduced reliance on the National Grid means that fewer fossil fuels are used up to power the property. This could be a very compelling reason why someone keen to lead a sustainable lifestyle may wish to buy a new home with solar panels already in place.

4. Increase your EPC rating

By law, buildings that go up for sale or rent must have an EPC, or Energy Performance Certificate in place. This tells potential buyers how energy efficient the property is and flags up any possible areas of concern. Ratings go from A (the best) down to G and gives an idea of how high the energy bills are likely to be for the property. Landlords seeking to let a property must have an EPC rating of C or above. EPCs are valid for ten years. Solar panels can help increase the energy efficiency of a home, as they help lower energy bills and the associated carbon footprint.

Questions to ask when buying a house with solar panels

For buyers, therefore, choosing a home or property with solar panels can be extremely advantageous. However, it is important to make sure that they are correctly installed and performing as required. Some questions to ask vendors about their solar panels could include:

  • Are the solar panels fitted securely, and have there been any problems with them?
  • When were they installed and how much time remains on any warranties in place?
  • Is there a FIT or SEG arrangement in place to sell any unused electricity back to the National Grid?
  • Do you have a maintenance contract in place and with whom?
  • Does the property come with a solar battery to store energy for later use?

For any further questions on selling or buying a home with solar panels, contact the experts at UPS Solar.

5 Advantages of Installing Flat Roof Solar Panels

When you think of solar panels, we’re betting you conjure up images of a sloping roof with panels fixed on firmly to capture the sun’s energy at an optimum angle. However, the system can work just as effectively on flat roofs as they do on slopping ones. Depending on the type and size of the system you choose, flat roof solar panels can actually work more effectively than some sloping ones. So, whether you are interested in flat roof solar panels for a domestic property or commercial premises, read on to find out the advantages of flat roof solar panels and why they are such a great investment.

Why Choose Flat Roof Solar Panels?

In some cases, the choice of which type of solar panels to invest in is made for you – if you only have space for them on a sloped or flat roof, for example. However, if you do have some flexibility, it is well worth looking into flat roof solar panels. Here are the advantages of flat roof solar panels and why they can be a winning solution.

1. Versatility in How They Are Installed

When you fit solar panels to a sloping roof, you need to work with the existing angle and pitch of the roof. This is not the case for flat roof panel installations. As there is no pitch, the system can be angled as you choose, in order to capture the most sun and work as efficiently as possible. A good angle for solar panels is somewhere between 30 and 60 degrees.

UPS Solar Commercial Solar Panels - advantages of flat roof solar panels

Panels can go in the middle of the flat roof or to either side with no obstacles in their way. Installers use specially designed brackets to fit the flat roof solar panels securely and then angle them exactly as they need to. If there are concerns over whether they will withstand heavy weather conditions, metal frames or ballast can be added for extra support and weight.

2. Self-Cleaning and Safer Maintenance

One concern that many people have about installing solar roof panels is how they can keep them clean and free from damage and general wear and tear. The UK sees a lot of rain, which helps the panels to ‘self-clean’ as the water runs down them. This is still possible on flat roof solar panels, as they can be angled slightly to allow the rain to do its work. Maintenance and repairs can often be easier on flat roofs too, as there is generally enough space around the panels for someone to stand safely for as long as they need when checking and working on the panels.

Solar panels and bad weather

3. Better Looking Configurations

Solar panels can be hard to hide on a sloping roof, as they will stand out visually from many angles. When installing them on a flat roof, however, the angle can be adjusted so it is less intrusive to the surrounding views. They are more discreet from street level and do not require homeowners to remove attractive tiles or terracotta embellishments from a sloping roof. Flat roofs tend to be fairly practical and simple in design, making the addition of a flat roof solar panel less of an intrusion. In fact, some modern, industrial flat roof designs can positively benefit from having stylish flat roof solar panels installed on top of them.

4. More Wind-Proof

We have already mentioned how the rain can still help keep flat roof solar panels clean if they are angled up enough to allow the water to run down them. Conversely, however, the wind can be far less useful to solar panel systems, especially if they are fitted to sloping rooftops that are too tall to withstand high winds without sustaining damage. Choosing your own angle for a flat roof can enable you to adjust the slant to account for high winds and keep the system safer and less prone to storm damage.

House Roof with Solar Panels

5. Easy Access to Green, Renewable Energy

Flat roof solar panels are just as effective as sloped roof configurations in providing renewable, sustainable electricity direct from the sun’s rays. They are made up of the same type of photovoltaic cells, which capture the solar energy before the system converts it into useable electricity for the home or workplace. An additional battery for solar power storage can also be connected to the system so that any surplus electricity that is not used right away can be stored and used later. For example, when the sun’s rays are absent at night, or weaker or obscured during a cloudy or dull day.

Leyland large scale Solar Panels installation and maintenance

Large Scale Solar: Decarbonising the Global Energy Sector with Solar Power

What Does it Mean to Decarbonise?

Simply put, decarbonisation is the reduction of carbon – zero-carbon. We live in a time where the world is in dire need of economic change, and one of the ways to do that is through minimising our reliance on fossil fuels and making a radical switch to clean energy sources. The long-term goal is to become a climate-resilient, zero-carbon global economy.  Among the many methods to support this, large scale solar power is one of them.

Why Do We Need to Decarbonise?

A major cause of cumulative CO₂ emissions is burning fossil fuels for energy. We know by now that this has led to an increased output of greenhouse gases and, over time, resulted in global warming. The rise in CO₂ output from human activity has negatively impacted our global economy and, in efforts to save our future, nations around the world have pledged to make greener choices to meet global temperature standards set by the Paris Agreement. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has declared that a move to a complete carbon-zero network of the energy sector by 2050 is non-negotiable to meet the target of capping global temperature rise at 1.5°C. 

How Do We Achieve Low-Carbon?

Since the announcement of the climate emergency, there has been the worldwide implementation of renewable energy like wind, solar and nuclear power and bioenergy. Decarbonised electricity can be used for the same uses as fossil fuels, for example, boilers for building heating. 

The UK has the ambition to be powered by affordable, clean energy by 2035. Plans include deploying a new generation of home-grown green technologies, including solar – which remains the third-largest renewable energy technology. 

What is Solar Power?

Solar power is the energy ‘captured’ from the sun that is used to generate electricity. As more and more people strive to become energy-efficient and reduce their energy costs, solar has become a widespread option. Its increase in affordability and ease of use has made it a popular choice amongst UK households. What’s more, depending on your energy supplier, you can even receive payments for extra energy you generate. 

Large scale solar power

How do Solar Panels Work?

Solar panels convert sunlight into electrical energy through photovoltaic (PV) panels. When light shines on the semi-conductive material, a direct current of electricity is created and passes through the system to eventually get usable energy to electrify your home. The PV panels react to visible light – so as long as it’s light enough to see, the panel can generate electricity. 

Rooftop solar can create thermal energy that can be used to provide heat in your home from water heating and air heating and essentially supply households with decentralized heating. With the use of storage batteries, unused energy can be stored and used at a later time. 

How is Solar Energy Used Globally?

Solar thermal energy for heating water and air in households and buildings is only one of the uses of this alternative energy source. There is growing ambition that utility-scale solar will be used for end-use electrification (e.g. vehicles, transport, water heating, etc) and production of clean fuels, like hydrogen. 

The US and China are top traders in the solar market and the US has plans to transition to a zero-carbon electric grid by 2050. This type of green technology has been adopted worldwide and is deployed for small and large-scale uses.

Advantages of Large Scale Solar Power

1. Renewable

As mentioned earlier, solar panels generate electricity from visible light. Since there is daytime light in all four corners of the earth, solar power can work. However, the more sunshine there is, the more electricity will be generated – making this a great renewable option for sunnier climates. There is also the added fact that sunlight is an inexhaustible source of energy, and can be used without much consequence for future generations. 

The carbon footprint is relatively small as no pollutants are released into the air. Higher demand for solar power worldwide means a reduction in the dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels. Also, the materials usually used – silicon sheets – are recyclable, making solar power a clean alternative energy source.

2. Money-saving

The more power your solar panels would generate, the less electricity you would have to buy from the grid, therefore making this cheaper in the long run. Additionally, solar power in the UK is being financially incentivised, as households can receive payments for extra electricity generated. 

3. Low maintenance

Solar panels don’t contain any loose or moving parts, so require minimal maintenance. Since the panels are usually placed at an angle on houses and buildings, rainfall slides right down them. Dirt and debris may block the panels and require you to remove them but other than that, it’s a self-sufficient system. Solar panels also have a life span of about 20-25 years, with little loss in efficiency. 

4. Efficient

When transmitting energy from power stations to homes and public buildings, there is unavoidable energy loss through heating the power lines. Less energy is wasted when using the sun to produce heat or electricity, as the power comes directly from the panel connected to your building. 

5. Land-use

Large scale solar parks can co-exist amongst farm animals grazing on land – this is called agrivoltaic. The simultaneous use of land benefits landowners, the environment, and animals. The photovoltaic panels can also be removed without harm to the ground.

Large scale solar can also appear as floating solar (solar panels on water) doesn’t require any land space and so can be a viable option for smaller countries. 

6. Rise in ‘green’ careers

With the continuing demand for solar, there will be a proportionate rise in demand for solar power transportation and installation jobs. An example of this large scale solar power is in India, where a 250 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) project has become a source of local jobs.  

Demand for large scale solar power

Challenges in Decarbonising the Energy Sector

Sustainable development has its challenges – socially, economically and ecologically. Energy transition needs to be compatible with social aspects (household costs) as well as environmental sustainability (protecting land and climate) and economic needs (security of energy supply and prices). 

  • Levelised cost of energy (LCOE)

Capital costs of large scale solar deployment run high in comparison to competing fuel sources. 

Moreover, ongoing maintenance costs of solar power plants may be steep, along with refinancing the loans used to build them.

  • Weather-dependent

One of the main obstacles to solar power becoming a reliable green energy source is the varying intensities of solar radiation in different areas of the world. Nations on the equator receive the highest amount of solar energy, as do those with drier climates. 

  • Efficiency of solar panels

Most residential panels have around a 20% efficiency rate, and anything more than that will be substantially more expensive. The more efficient the panels, the more expensive it is to make. 

  • Land space

Large areas of land are required for macro-scale solar farms. The biggest solar grids are built in large open spaces such as deserts, so countries with less landmass, or have to compromise agricultural land, will be disadvantaged. 

  • Environmental impacts

The manufacturing of solar panels can result in harmful compounds, such as nitrogen trifluoride. This by-product is a highly toxic greenhouse gas, much more insidious than carbon dioxide. But as solar technology gains more accessibility and demand, manufacturers may be able to steer clear of dangerous substances.  

On a global scale, large scale solar power seems to be a very valuable option – according to the three pillars of sustainability (social, economic, ecological). On reviewing the arguments, the advantages seem to outweigh the challenges in the long term. The trend of falling prices for solar power will make the transition to a solar-powered, carbon-free global economy highly achievable. 

Why Does Your Home Need Solar Panel Battery Storage?

Solar panel battery storage is an extremely useful piece of technology that operates in conjunction with solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. PV panels generate electricity by harnessing the energy in the Sun. One of the limitations of solar power technology used to be the fact that any electricity that was generated by the system had to be put into use straight away or be lost. Now, homeowners are able to store any surplus electricity that they don’t need straight away in a specially designed solar panel battery storage for later on.

This addition to the overall system means that no solar power energy that is generated needs to be wasted. The stored electricity can be kept safely inside the battery cell until it is needed. The battery is switched on and the electricity brought into play when the Sun is not releasing enough energy to power the home. This could be during duller weather spells, such as a cloudy day or during a storm. It is also the case at night, after the sun has set.

Batter and Solar PV

If a photovoltaic panel system does not have a solar power battery, any excess electricity is automatically fed into the National Grid. This means that any cost savings and independence gained from installing solar panels in the first place no longer have quite such a positive impact on a household’s budget and way of life.

How Does Solar Panel Battery Storage Work?

The solar battery is connected to the solar power system already set up in the home. This system comprises photovoltaic panels installed on a roof or flat surface and positioned to capture energy directly from the Sun. The battery is normally made from lead acid or lithium-ion and is installed inside the property to protect it from adverse weather conditions. Solar power batteries are fast-charging, safe to use and highly efficient – able to store large amounts of electricity at once.

Solar panels on a home in Sheffield

Using solar panel battery storage increases your household’s self-consumption of electricity by 50% or more. The battery should last for between ten and fifteen years, depending on how much it is used and whether or not it has been correctly installed. Always use a qualified, professional solar power installation company to fit a new or replacement solar power battery. The battery unit should also be maintained and serviced regularly, along with the rest of the solar power system. This helps keep it operating in the best possible condition and identifies any problems sooner, rather than later.

What Are Some of the Advantages of Using a Solar Panel Battery Storage?

The ability to store electricity generated by solar power inside a battery brings with it many advantages:

1. Reduced electricity bills – no energy captured from the Sun is wasted; stored amounts are used instead of sourcing electricity from an energy company or the National Grid at night or in dull weather. This reduces fuel bills further as less reliance on energy companies is needed

2. Increased control – if you are seeking to cut down your reliance on external energy companies and the National Grid, having a solar power battery can help with this. You decide when to release the energy stored in the battery and are no longer quite so much at the mercy of mains power cuts

3. Sustainable living – when the Sun is shining, you can use the electricity generated to power the home, but what about when the sun goes down or is obscured by clouds? A battery storage system enables you to keep on using greener, solar-powered energy in your home, 24/7. Thus, you reduce your carbon footprint and are able to carry on using a much greener, renewable energy source

Why Does Your Home Need Solar Panel Battery Storage?

4. Protection against rising prices – energy prices rise on a regular basis and are dependent on a lot of external factors. By making your own and having the means to store the excess for when it is needed, you can protect your household budget from increases in power costs from energy companies

5. Retrofitting is available – even if your solar photovoltaic panel’s system doesn’t come with solar panel battery storage, the technology can be retrofitted at any point. You can choose which size battery to install and upgrade to a larger capacity if needed. This offers a flexible approach to storing electricity for your household’s needs.

Save Energy in Winter

5 Sustainable Living Ways to Save Energy in Winter

As we edge towards the end of 2021, the colder weather has moved into full swing. Frost on our car windscreens, darker mornings, lower temperatures and incessant rain all play their part in making sure we know that winter is well and truly here and it becomes difficult to save energy in winter. . At the same time, world leaders have recently met at the COP 26 climate change summit in Glasgow to discuss how to cut down on fossil fuel use and other environmentally damaging activities.

So, with all that in mind, plus the spectre of rising energy bills on the horizon, now is a great time to think about how we can make changes to how we generate, use and save energy in winter.

How to Winterproof Your Home While Protecting The Planet

As with any project of this kind, identifying ways to save energy in winter should start with small adjustments at first. Then work up to larger changes and commitments as you get used to a new way of sourcing and saving energy. Small. changes could include only boiling enough water for what you need at the time, switching computers and TVs etc. off at the mains, just putting them on standby mode and turning the thermostats down a couple of degrees – put on another jumper if you feel cold.

Other Ideas to Save Energy in Winter Include:

1· Switching to Solar Power

Investing in solar power technology for households can really help reduce energy bills, as well as free up your reliance on fossil fuels. Photovoltaic solar panels are easy to install and can start generating electricity right away – even on duller winter days. Any electricity that is not used right away can be stored for use later on, e.g. at night. Solar power is sustainable, effective and a great way to pursue a more sustainable way of living.

Solar panels on a home in Leyland - Save Energy in Winter

2· Switching to LED Lighting

After the clocks went back in October, the afternoon light started fading sooner. Inevitably, this leads to people switching lights on earlier in the day and keeping them on for longer hours a day. Changing old-style, incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient lighting like LEDs can help to save energy in winter and create a sustainable living, as you not only use less energy to power them but the LED lights themselves last longer too. Turning lights off whenever you are not using them will help significantly to save energy in winter.

3· Caring For Your Central Heating

If you have a boiler and radiators in the home to provide heat, make sure that they are properly maintained so that they can perform at their optimum efficiency.

Central heating radiators; Save Energy in Winter

This means that less power is needed to produce the amount of heat that is needed. Bleed radiators and get boilers checked regularly. Line the walls behind radiators with tin foil so that more heat can reflect out into the room. Use a timer so that your central heating can turn off when you are not in the house to save energy in winter.

4· Insulating Your Home

Keeping out the draughts can be done via a few methods. Start small by lining curtains and blinds and using draught excluders to provide a thicker layer of insulation against any cold air that might come in through cracks and gaps in your windows and doors. Fit carpets and rugs to wooden floors to add cosiness underfoot/ Do a thorough check of your home to see if there are any places where cold air could be getting in. Don’t forget to lag your pipes to avoid a catastrophic water burst, which can cause damage and increase energy costs. Is your attic properly insulated? Now is the time to check.

5· Wising Up With The Washing

Although colder temperatures have us reach for the tumble dryer or electric clothes. airer, a little pre-planning can help us keep costs and energy use associated with keeping clean much lower. Allow dishes and clothes to air dry – it might take a little longer, but it can really help to save energy in winter.

Save Energy in Winter: UPS Solar Residential Solar Panels

Besides, if you have got the central heating on, this can help speed up the drying process on its own. Wait until your dishwasher or clothes washing machine is full before setting it to work. Full loads are more energy-efficient than half-empty machines. Use electricity generated by solar power for these jobs to make your housework even more sustainable this winter.