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As climate change becomes a very serious reality for the world, the shift towards renewable energy sources such as solar power has become imminent. Solar power has been a key player in transitioning from non-renewable energy sources to cleaner and more sustainable options.
With advancements in technology and the use of solar battery storage, harnessing solar energy is now easier than ever. From households to big industries, solar panels can be seen almost everywhere and continue to become a common sight all over the UK.
The UK is taking drastic measures to play its part in reducing carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, and the switch to solar energy is a major contributing factor to it.
More than 1 million homes in the UK benefit from solar energy and, according to the National Grid, a fivefold increase is anticipated in solar PV generation by 2030.
Construction has also begun on the largest solar and battery storage plant in the UK which will include 373MW of solar and more than 150MW of battery storage.
Read on to find out more about solar panels and battery storage and how to plan and implement a large-scale solar panel and battery storage project:
Solar panel systems, also called solar photovoltaic systems, are a popular type of renewable energy system that uses PV modules to convert sunlight into electricity. By installing solar panels on your property, you can generate your own clean and renewable energy.
Solar PV systems are a reliable form of energy production, and a rapidly growing one, that can be used in a variety of applications including domestic, commercial, and industrial properties.
Solar panels are typically made using semiconductor materials such as silicon which is installed in a meal frame with a glass casing. When this semiconductor material is exposed to sunlight, it releases electrons and produces an electric charge.
The electric charge then creates an electric direct current (DC) which is captured by the wiring in the system and is converted to alternating current (AC) using an inverter so that it can be used to power electrical appliances when they are plugged into a wall socket.
Solar batteries are energy storage devices used for storing excess electricity generated by solar panels installed on your property. Their main purpose is to store unused electricity to be used later, such as during the night when the solar panels are no longer generating electricity.
There are different types of solar batteries used in the UK, with some of the most common ones being lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries. They are efficient, reliable, and a great way to store surplus energy for later use.
This stored surplus energy can be used when the panels are not producing power, such as at night or during cloudy days, and can also be utilised during peak hours when the electricity rates are relatively higher. This not only reduces your dependency on grid-supplied electricity but also helps lower your energy bills. Additionally, solar batteries can also provide backup power during grid outages and help mitigate the intermittent nature of solar power generation.
You can also benefit from the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) that allows you to sell the excess solar energy back to the grid by offsetting your mains usage or receiving a direct payment.
Solar batteries are a crucial part of solar-powered systems as they help make the systems more reliable, versatile, and dependable. Combining them with your solar panel setup can benefit you in several ways and help you make the most of your system.
Large-scale solar panel and battery storage projects are one of the most promising answers to all our energy generation and climate change woes.
Countries such as the UK have started to take climate change seriously and are looking for ways to transition to renewable energy sources and reduce their carbon emissions, whether it means switching to electric vehicles and renewable energy sources such as sunlight and wind for energy generation.
Large-scale solar panel projects, such as solar parks and solar farms, are typically those that can produce more than 1MW and can provide electricity to several properties at once.
These projects can be commercial or community-owned and are a great solution for property owners who do not have the means or requirements to install solar panels on their own property.
When it comes to planning and implementing a large-scale solar panel and battery storage project, several things need to be taken into consideration. From choosing the best location to assessing the energy needs and picking the best hardware for the job, here is a list of things that can make or break your project:
The first and foremost step when planning and implementing a large-scale solar and battery storage project is to conduct a preliminary assessment which includes your goals, requirements, expectations, and factors that affect the feasibility of the project such as the location.
Feasibility studies are conducted to evaluate the economic, technical, as well as environmental impact the project will have.
The financial aspect of the studies includes evaluating the costs and benefits of the project to determine how economically feasible it will be. The technical analysis is carried out to assess the infrastructure, soil conditions, and topography of the site.
Lastly, the environmental impact assessment is important in identifying any potential damaging effects on local ecosystems and wildlife as a result of the project.
Once all the preliminary checks and assessments have been successfully carried out, a suitable site for the project needs to be selected. The site selection for the project is a crucial step and can make a lot of difference in how efficient the system will be.
Choosing the right location to lay out the solar panels is an important decision not just in terms of solar irradiance but also whether or not the project can go ahead as planned.
As is obvious, the first consideration when selecting a location for the solar panel and battery storage project is the amount of direct sunlight that the area gets as it will have a direct impact on how much electricity the panels will be able to generate.
An ideal location is one that receives abundant sunlight throughout the day. The land should ideally be flat and south-facing and should receive at least 4 hours of unobstructed sunlight every day.
The site should have suitable terrain for construction with a flat topography with no trees and it shouldn’t be situated on a flood plain in order to minimise damage to infrastructure. It must also be easily accessible for construction equipment and have soil conditions that do not affect the structural design and integrity of the project.
Access to the grid is also a key factor that must be taken into consideration. However, if you’re using sophisticated battery storage solutions, it shouldn’t be an issue, as is the case with off-grid large-scale solar projects and solar farms.
Last, but certainly not least, the project mustn’t be in close proximity to threatened ecosystems or protected heritage or cultural sites.
Once the preliminary assessment and site selection are out of the way, the system design and engineering step can begin which includes understanding the equipment to use and how the selected technology can impact the project and its output.
This phase involves taking into account the technical characteristics of the equipment to use and carefully assessing the pros and cons of each component. You can do both market research and speak to a professional before deciding so that you have a clearer picture of the technology you are working with.
You need to install the right type of solar panels and battery storage solution for your project. But what does that mean exactly? When it comes to choosing the right solar panels and battery systems, there are quite a few options each with their pros and cons.
Monocrystalline and polycrystalline are two of the most common options to choose from when looking for the best solar panels.
Monocrystalline solar panels are made from single-crystal silicon wafers and are generally more expensive than polycrystalline solar panels. They are also more efficient and generally have a longer lifespan compared to their counterparts.
Known for their sleek, black appearance, monocrystalline solar panels are a popular choice for both residential as well as large-scale commercial projects.
Polycrystalline solar panels, on the other hand, are made from multiple silicon fragments and are usually less efficient than monocrystalline panels. Often having a blue colour, these panels are more affordable and are suitable for use in a wide range of applications.
Other than selecting the right type of solar panels, you will also need to determine the most suitable size and quantity of the panels, along with the general layout of the system.
Inverters are also an essential part of a solar project as they convert the direct current (DC) electricity produced by the panels into alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used by the end user.
Like solar panels, there are several types of inverters available, with string inverters, microinverters, and power optimisers being the most common.
Out of the lot, string inverters are the most popular choice for solar projects. They are connected to a series of solar panels and convert DC electricity into AC. They are relatively inexpensive but can be prone to shading that can affect the overall efficiency of the system.
Microinverters, on the other hand, are installed on each individual solar panel and are more efficient and expensive than string inverters. Power optimisers are similar to microinverters, but instead of converting DC electricity into AC, they improve the efficiency of the system by optimising the DC voltage and current.
Of course, since the project also includes the installation of battery storage solutions, you will have to choose the right battery storage systems to store excess energy generated by the solar panels for later use.
Lithium-ion batteries are the most common type of storage batteries used in solar projects. They are lightweight, have a high energy density, and are incredibly efficient as they can be cycled several times without losing capacity.
Lead-acid batteries are another less expensive option, although they are heavier, have a lower energy density, and have a shorter lifespan than lithium-ion batteries.
Planning and implementing a large-scale solar panel and battery storage project requires a good budget, which is why financial planning and analysis are a key part of the job. This phase includes cost estimations, revenue projections, and expected returns on investment.
Once you have the site location and the infrastructure figured out, you’ll be in a better position to perform cost calculations and set a budget for the project.
Although setting up a large-scale solar project with battery storage is a capital-intensive project, it is important to note that the costs associated with solar energy generation have reduced considerably over the years and are becoming more affordable with each passing day.
The total cost of the project can vary depending on the size of the project, the location, the equipment and technology used, and the specific requirements of the project.
Even though the UK is fully encouraging the shift from fossil fuels to solar energy, there are certain permits, regulations, and compliance considerations that you need to keep in mind.
To implement a large-scale solar panel and battery storage project in the UK, you will need planning permission obtained from the local authority and adhere to their guidelines. The application process includes providing details about the project such as its location, layout, and impact.
The approval process may be quite rigorous with planners usually granting permission for unused land that is not suitable for farming. Large-scale solar projects may also require an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to assess and mitigate any potential risk to the environment such as any effect on the local ecosystem.
This phase includes several key steps that require careful planning and execution such as site preparation, component installation, electrical connections, quality control and inspections, system performance testing, safety compliance, and final testing.
The site preparation involves clearing the chosen location of any vegetation or obstructions that could be a hindrance during the construction process. It also includes an assessment of the site’s stability and suitability for the installation process.
Once the site is ready, the infrastructure including the solar panels, inverters, mounting systems, battery systems, and other necessary components are all installed. It is always best to have the installation process carried out by professional solar panel installers who possess the skill, expertise, and knowledge to work with all kinds of solar systems.
After the installation process and electrical connections are all completed, the quality control and inspections begin to ensure that everything is working as it should. The testing process checks the output and performance of the system and makes sure everything is installed according to the required standards and safety regulations.
Once the solar project has been successfully installed, it is very important to maintain it in order to ensure reliability, continued performance, and longevity. The operation and maintenance phase is a critical one as it is ongoing and ensures that the system operates as efficiently as possible throughout its lifespan.
It includes monitoring the system’s performance to gauge its output and identifying areas that need improvement for increased efficiency. It also includes preventive maintenance that checks for faults and issues such as loose connections and cleaning out dirt and debris and helps reduce downtime and extend the system’s lifespan.
Reactive maintenance and repairs are done to troubleshoot unexpected issues that may affect the output and efficiency of the system.
Calder Electrical Services provides a wide range of solutions to help you play your part in making the world a more sustainable place.
If you wish to have solar panels installed on your commercial property, our experts can conduct a site visit to determine your requirements and propose the best location to install them.
Contact us here or call us on 0800 612 3001 to talk to our experts right away!
Or would like us to provide a survey and quote then please contact us and we will be happy to help.Call us on 0800 612 3001