It’s flaming June (supposedly) and our ‘solar garden’ is now hooked up to the grid and generating green energy. This is something to celebrate today, particularly as it happens to be ‘Sussex Day‘. We have 32 PV panels ground-mounted in the front garden at Sky House Sussex…but why on earth there, you may ask? Isn’t our brand new roof a perfectly good location for the solar panels?

Well no, actually. We’re aiming to build one of Lewes’ first carbon neutral homes that produces, with solar PV, all or most of the electricity used in the house. Our objective for the solar panels is to match the energy they yielded in their original position on the roof of the old bungalow, now demolished. This is necessary to maintain our Feed In Tariff (the payback scheme which helps finance the purchase of solar panels) but more importantly it will help us reach our lifetime zero carbon target. On the bungalow roof they faced southwest and generated 8kW of electricity, or 96% of their capacity. A rooftop location on the new house, however, would mean a far less favourable energy yield; the roof is mono pitch at 7 degrees sloping towards north east and the back of the property, so away from the sun. Relatively high trees on the east/southeast sides of the house would cast shade to drastically reduce the efficiency of the solar panels.

Initially the local planners had concerns about the visibility and reflectiveness of our ‘solar garden’ proposal. So we consider it quite a coup that we managed to design an installation (well done, Joe and Vlad) which met with planning approval, has minimal visual impact and yet maximises energy generation. Everyone’s a winner! The panels now face 10 degrees south east, tilted up 10 degrees to optimise energy yield of 95% capacity, erected on metal frames but without standing too high on the ground. In fact, the new position of the panels is even lower than their original position on the bungalow, without compromising the high energy yield. Let’s hope sunny Sussex lives up to its name this summer and in years to come. Renewable energy has never looked so good!

If you’re interested in becoming a greener household, discover how renewable energy can work for you , find out how to buy solar panels and visit Solar Panels UK  for price comparisons and news on solar power.