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View blog posts for category: Solar electricity

Making the most of your solar generated electricity

Posted by Chris Rudge on 23 February 2012 at 9:55 am

Making the most of your solar generated electricity

A lot of people ask how they can make the most of the power generated by their solar PV system. This question is especially important now the feed-in tariff (FiT) rate is (or will be) 21p as you will want to get the best from your investment. You will receive an export payment which will be 'deem…

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Solar PV does count towards new energy efficiency criteria

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 February 2012 at 10:58 am

Solar PV does count towards new energy efficiency criteria

Buildings must meet strict energy efficiency criteria from 1 April to qualify for the full level of feed-in tariff. When the government announced the change earlier this month it was not clear whether or not the solar PV installation would count towards the Energy Performance Certificate level D or …

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Readers tips of the month - biomass and solar

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 February 2012 at 12:39 pm

Readers tips of the month - biomass and solar

This month's first tip comes from Lewis, a retired university lecturer who is still active as a runner, orienteer, and log collector. He has installed a wood burning stove for hot water and three radiators (gravity circulation). He self-installed solar hot water in 2010 (which means he won't be e…

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New proposals for the solar PV feed-in tariff and what they mean for microgenerators

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 February 2012 at 5:19 pm

New proposals for the solar PV feed-in tariff and what they mean for microgenerators

Last year the government announced that the feed-in tariff rates for solar PV would be cut in half from 1 April. Today it announced that it plans to make two more significant cuts in rates this year. The consultation on cost control for solar PV FITs has some good ideas for the future of the sola…

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Energy efficiency criteria for solar PV feed-in tariff lacks clarity

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 February 2012 at 12:42 pm

NB: The position is now clear. Solar PV will count towards EPC level D. Click here to read more. It's not clear whether or not newly installed solar PV panels are included in the new energy efficiency requirement of the feed-in tariff. The government has confirmed that a level D energy perfo…

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Feed-in tariff changes confirmed

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 February 2012 at 12:21 pm

Feed-in tariff changes confirmed

The government's response to phase 1 of the consultation on solar PV feed-in tariff rates was published this morning. The feed-in tariff rates The 21p rate of feed-in tariff has been confirmed  for solar panel installations of up to and including 4kW with an eligibility date on or after…

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Fiddling the feed-in tariff: prosecutions will follow...

Posted by John Martin on 8 February 2012 at 9:34 am

Fiddling the feed-in tariff: prosecutions will follow...

It has become apparent that a number of companies have committed fraud by submitting feed-in tariff (FIT) applications (or getting the consumer to do so) without actually having installed the equipment. This has clearly been driven by the change of FIT rates announced and the eligibility date…

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Buyer beware as rogue solar installers claim 43.3p feed-in tariff

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 February 2012 at 10:20 am

Buyer beware as rogue solar installers claim 43.3p feed-in tariff

A disreputable minority of solar panel installers are exploiting the confusion over the feed-in tariff caused by recent legal action, and promising returns that they may not be able to guarantee. These installers are promising that the rate of government subsidy on solar PV panels will be 43.3p p…

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Government loses feed-in tariff appeal, but uncertainty continues

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 January 2012 at 9:54 am

Government loses feed-in tariff appeal, but uncertainty continues

While the government failed to overturn last month's ruling that its rushed cuts to the feed-in tariff for solar PV are unlawful yesterday, the uncertainty over the rates still exists. As soon as the unanimous verdict was announced in the Court of Appeal, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climat…

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10 things you need to know before installing solar PV

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 January 2012 at 9:04 am

10 things you need to know before installing solar PV

It's a time of confusion in the solar market, so it's especially important to do a bit of research and know what's what, so that the dodgy installers (who are in the minority, but often have big marketing budgets) don't pull the wool over your eyes. I'm writing this because a letter making seriou…

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Solar PV: readers' tip of the month

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 January 2012 at 3:48 pm

Solar PV: readers' tip of the month

Apart from installing a Clearview Log Burning stove, and living in an above average insulated property, Solar PV is my first major investment in environmentally friendly capital purchases. There are inevitably many 'cowboys' in the solar PV industry, and I have come across one. PV Solar UK Ltd cl…

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Solar security: grid connection and batteries give the best of both worlds

Posted by Nick Roach on 20 January 2012 at 9:49 am

Solar security: grid connection and batteries give the best of both worlds

We’re pioneer microgenerators who installed PV in 2006 before the feed-in tariff or the spurious ‘when do I get my money back’ argument appeared on the scene. We live in a rural area with no mains gas, with overhead power cables flapping around in ever more frequent storms; we are s…

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Solar PV: where we stand as consumers in all the chaos (updated)

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 January 2012 at 4:49 pm

Solar PV: where we stand as consumers in all the chaos (updated)

Much of the uncertainty around the feed-in tariff rates for solar PV has lessened thanks to today's written ministerial statement from DECC. The government has laid a licence before Parliament to modify the Energy Act, with the result that any solar PV installations with an eligibility date on or…

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Solar PV: where we stand as consumers in all the chaos

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 January 2012 at 9:43 am

Solar PV: where we stand as consumers in all the chaos

The rate of return on solar panels is currently in a state of flux, since the High Court found that proposed changes to the feed-in tariff were 'unlawful'. Now the government is appealing the decision, the uncertainty has been extended. So what does that mean for someone who wants to buy solar pa…

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Industry calls on Prime Minister to sort out solar mess

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 13 January 2012 at 10:17 am

Industry calls on Prime Minister to sort out  solar mess

The Solar industry is calling on the Prime Minister to intervene to end the uncertainty over solar power in the UK and put the technology on a sustainable footing. The call comes on crunch day for the UK's solar industry, and those who want to install solar panels. Today, the Department of Energy…

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BBC Dragons back solar despite FITs cuts

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 January 2012 at 7:56 pm

BBC Dragons back solar despite FITs cuts

"In our lifetime, a switch towards renewable energy is not an option – it has to happen," says BBC star of Dragons Den, Deborah Meaden. Quoted in the Yorkshire and Humber Microgeneration Partnership newsletter MANY (click to download a pdf), she continued: "Consumers need help to make the right ch…

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Solar PV still in limbo as DECC appeals High Court decision

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 January 2012 at 10:35 am

Solar PV still in limbo as DECC appeals High Court decision

The Department of Energy and Climate Change yesterday lodged an appeal on the High Court's decision to allow a judicial appeal against the government's proposals to cut the feed-in tariff for solar PV. DECC had proposed that a cut off date of 12 December 2011 for the reductions in tariff (from 43…

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A crazy end to a crazy year for solar PV

Posted by Howard Johns on 23 December 2011 at 4:01 pm

A crazy end to a crazy year for solar PV

2011 has been a crazy year to be working in PV in the UK. Massive growth in the sector, 2,500 new companies, 100,000 installations, huge cost reductions and three reviews of the feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme; with the most recent proposing to shut the industry down to 5 per cent of what it has been t…

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Buyer beware as high court judgement on solar PV leaves consumers in limbo

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 December 2011 at 11:57 am

Buyer beware as high court judgement on solar PV leaves consumers in limbo

The way the cuts to the solar PV incentive were introduced has been judged 'unlawful' by the High Court. Friends of the Earth, Solarcentury and HomeSun took the government to court, because the cut off date for the changes to to the feed-in tariff rates was before the end of the consultation period.…

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What we want for Christmas from Santa (aka Greg Barker)

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 December 2011 at 11:07 am

What we want for Christmas from Santa (aka Greg Barker)

This week has got progressively worse and worse for DECC (the department for energy and climate change) as all its green policies came under fire. First, Adair Turner, the chair of the Committee on Climate Change published an open letter to Energy Secretary Chris Huhne criticising the low ambitio…

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Solar will exert a downward force on electricity prices

Posted by James Page on 22 December 2011 at 10:09 am

Solar will exert a downward force on electricity prices

There is still a day left to submit responses to the consultation on solar feed-in tariffs.  Which is just as well as those in the industry have been a tad busy until now.    Ironically my submission will centre on a point I also made in relation to nuclear power four years…

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Solar feed-in tariff consultation is a sham, say YouGen users

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 December 2011 at 12:26 pm

Solar feed-in tariff consultation is a sham, say YouGen users

Disingenuous. Suspicious. Untrustworthy. These are just some of the words used by respondents to our recent survey (pdf) to describe the government's consultation on the feed-in tariff (FIT) review. By setting a cut off date for installations that is before the end of the consultation the governm…

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Barker confirms 21p FIT rate: could this spark another mini solar boom?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 December 2011 at 10:21 am

Barker confirms 21p FIT rate: could this spark another mini solar boom?

In an uncertain world even a little bit of clarity is good, so we welcome energy minister Greg Barker's confirmation that, whatever the outcome of the consultation, the 21p rate of feed-in tariff (FIT) is fixed for the period from 12 December 2011 to 31 March 2012. That means that all systems instal…

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Are the big energy companies obliged to take on new FIT generators?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 December 2011 at 9:22 am

Are the big energy companies obliged to take on new FIT generators?

Q: I am trying to sort out a FiT (feed-in tariff) supplier. I have emailed all the suppliers shown on the Ofgem website with a range of questions. As far as I can make out only two of the big suppliers will pay the feed-in tariff if you are supplied by one of the other big suppliers (British Gas and…

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Just another day in the Commons - where we merrily destroy the PV sector with spin

Posted by Howard Johns on 29 November 2011 at 9:31 am

Just another day in the Commons -  where we merrily destroy the PV sector with spin

Anyone working in the solar industry will have been appalled,  dismayed and almost certainly angered to watch the debate on their future and the feed in tariff that took place in the House of Commons. I was sat in the viewing gallery watching and despite the best efforts of Caroline Flint and m…

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Four major reasons to join in the mass lobby of Parliament on changes to the Feed-in Tariff

Posted by Howard Johns on 17 November 2011 at 9:08 pm

Four major reasons to join in the mass lobby of Parliament on changes to the Feed-in Tariff

Now we have all got over the shock of the announcement of potential changes to the feed-in tariff (FIT) some people in the industry are saying we should just get on and make the 21p work. In many ways if that was what the plan really was I would agree, but having sat in the Ministerial Roundta…

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Do I need to clean my solar panels to maintain efficiency?

Posted by Chris Rudge on 17 November 2011 at 7:33 am

Do I need to clean my solar panels to maintain efficiency?

Q: Research seems to suggest that solar PV panels are not especially durable and suffer from failure. Even if they lasted 25 years of time (and I have not seen one company offering the domestic user anything like that length of guarantee), I have read that they deteriorate in efficiency and …

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Thoughts on the future of the feed-in tariff

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 November 2011 at 5:13 am

Thoughts on the future of the feed-in tariff

Proposed cuts to the feed-in tariff for solar PV are too fast and too deep say both industry and consumers affected by the changes. While most people agree that the feed-in tariff rates were too high, and needed to be cut, the speed and severity of the change is a severe blow. It's hard to unde…

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Feed-in tariffs: the new landscape

Posted by David Hunt on 14 November 2011 at 4:31 am

Feed-in tariffs: the new landscape

So the dust is settling on a truly manic few weeks. From rumour and leaks to the final announcement, we now know what the new feed-in tariff (FIT) regime will be. Of course there is ongoing lobbying and campaigning to fight the depth of the tariff cut, and we’ll be playing our part in that campa…

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Feed-in tariff cuts too deep and too fast says industry

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 10 November 2011 at 8:10 am

Feed-in tariff cuts too deep and too fast says industry

The feed-in tariff cuts are "too deep and too fast", say 90% of respondents to a survey circulated to solar PV companies by the Renewable Energy Association and the Solar Trade Association. The survey, which was answered by 139 companies, found that employment levels in the solar industry could…

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Generation data helps people make good decisions about solar PV

Posted by Aldous Everard on 9 November 2011 at 4:48 am

Generation data helps people make good decisions about solar PV

Recent cuts to the feed-in tariff make optimal performance of solar PV systems more important than ever, to maximise both investment payback and sustainability of energy supply.  Many people who have solar PV systems installed want to know how their system is performing as an investment, an…

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My top five energy saving tips

Posted by Adrian Wright on 3 November 2011 at 3:03 am

My top five energy saving tips

1) Insulate!! Insulation is a no brainer. Why allow all of that expensive heat to escape through your walls and roof when you can receive grant funding from energy suppliers to have your home professionally insulated?  Enact Energy can now do this for you completely free of charg…

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Feed-in tariff cuts hits hard for both consumers and industry

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 November 2011 at 9:36 am

Feed-in tariff cuts hits hard for both consumers and industry

Feed-in tariffs for solar PV will be cut in half as a result of changes proposed by Government in a consultation announced yesterday. The cuts will bring the solar boom to an end, and are widely expected to create a solar bust. Currently installations of up to 4kW attract a generation rate of 43.…

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What the proposed cuts in solar PV feed-in tariff mean for you (updated)

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 November 2011 at 7:29 am

What the proposed cuts in solar PV feed-in tariff mean for you (updated)

What's changed? The government proposes to cut the rates of the feed-in tariff for new solar PV installations as follows: Up to 4kW: 21p / kWh (previously 43.3p for retrofit / 37.8p for new build) >4-10kW: 16.8p (previously 37.8p) >10-50kW: 15.2p (previously 32.9p) >50-15…

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How to protect yourself against feed-in tariff cuts

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 October 2011 at 4:55 am

How to protect yourself against feed-in tariff cuts

It's generally accepted that the rates of return on the feed-in tariff are much more generous than was planned and that a cut is due (although there's much debate about how big that cut should be). Until recently, the reduction was expected to take place from 1 April 2012. Suddenly the rumour-mil…

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Solar PV tiles: the pros and cons explained

Posted by Paul Hutchens on 14 October 2011 at 9:06 am

Solar PV tiles: the pros and cons explained

Q: We are currently in the planning process to build our own house and have lots of questions regarding the use of solar roof tiles. 1. Do you generate as much electricity with these roof tiles with the equivalent amount of panel space ? 2. I have noticed you can have panels that heat water an…

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REAL's top tips to avoid being ripped off by solar cowboys

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 October 2011 at 8:36 am

REAL's top tips to avoid being ripped off by solar cowboys

The REAL Assurance Scheme* has received a surge of complaints about solar PV installers, leading it to assert that rogue traders are taking advantage of the expanding solar panel market to make a killing before the Government adjusts the Feed-In Tariff in the spring. While they haven't yet specifi…

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Exporting your home-generated electricity: deemed vs metered

Posted by Kate Turner on 30 September 2011 at 9:43 am

Exporting your home-generated electricity: deemed vs metered

The benefits of ‘deemed’ export versus metered export of solar PV generated electricity can be a source of confusion for many domestic microgenerators, and recent research conducted by YouGen shows it causes confusion among suppliers too. In most cases there is a charge for installing and mai…

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Solar PV, conservation area and planning permission: a case study

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 September 2011 at 8:28 am

Solar PV, conservation area and planning permission: a case study

Steve Plater's, story has a happy ending, but it perfectly illustrates that despite being a "permitted development" the path of a solar pv panel installation doesn't always run smoothly: Our house is metres inside a conservation area (CA) boundary, only because it is built on land which used to …

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Free solar schemes: talk to your mortgage lender before you sign

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 September 2011 at 9:12 am

Free solar schemes: talk to your mortgage lender before you sign

Rumours abound about banks, and whether or not they will let people who hold mortgages with them participate in 'free' or 'rent a roof' solar panels schemes, so I thought I'd investigate. The good news is that most banks will agree to these schemes, subject to certain conditions. Most of the onus…

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How to know if your roof is sound enough for solar panels

Posted by Chris Rudge on 19 September 2011 at 3:29 am

How to know if your roof is sound enough for solar panels

Q: I've built a few houses and know how important it is to have calculations for roof trusses, considering the weight and "sail" potential of PV (I'm considering a 3.99kw 21 panel Schuco system in excess of £10k). Who takes responsibility if this lot blows off or you get some structural damage? The…

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Auto control enables use of solar PV for immersion heater

Posted by Chris Rudge on 16 September 2011 at 10:38 am

Auto control enables use of solar PV for immersion heater

Chris's previous article on how to use excess solar generated electricity in the home generated so much interest that he has written a follow up that goes into more detail about about the control he has built to use solar-generated electricity to heat water. One of the side issues of the …

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Comparing the performance of solar PV panels

Posted by Gabriel Wondrausch on 5 September 2011 at 9:45 am

Comparing the performance of solar PV panels

You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on in the shop first. They may look great on the model in the advert, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be the perfect pair for you. The same principle applies to solar panels.  Most of the panels and compo…

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Are 4kW solar PV installations a thing of the past as network operaters tighten the rules?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 August 2011 at 5:43 pm

Are 4kW solar PV installations a thing of the past as network operaters tighten the rules?

Q: I want to install a 4kWp solar PV system to maximise my return from the feed-in tariff, but my installer says that Western Power will only let him install a 3.68kWp system. Why is that? A: As more and more people install solar panels, the district network operators (DNOs) are having to wo…

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Strict enforcement of G83/1 restricts installation of 4kWp solar PV

Posted by Chris Rudge on 30 August 2011 at 9:54 am

Strict enforcement of G83/1 restricts installation of 4kWp solar PV

Many installers may have already encountered the newly enforced grid connected inverter G83/1 requirements recently. In simple terms, all the District Network Operators (DNO's) have finally got together and are now insisting that all installations should completely comply with G83/1 requireme…

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Solar boom and bust: feed-in tariff RIP?

Posted by Howard Johns on 25 August 2011 at 9:05 am

Solar boom and bust: feed-in tariff RIP?

Here we are in the midst of the UK “solar boom” and already this marvellous success story is being dismantled in front of our eyes. Speak to most of the new marketing-focused solar PV companies out there and PV is still the best investment ever. They are right, it is good at this mome…

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Beware: receiving grants from public funds may make you ineligible for feed-in tariffs

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 August 2011 at 8:52 am

Beware: receiving grants from public funds may make you ineligible for feed-in tariffs

The feed-in tariff is intended to replace grants from public funds as the main way of incentivising microgeneration. So anyone awarded a public grant to install or buy generating equipment is in danger of not being eligible for the feed-in tariff (unless they repay the grant). There are some exem…

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How the feed-in tariff rules work for an additional installation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 August 2011 at 9:30 am

How the feed-in tariff rules work for an additional installation

NB: the rules have changed since this blog was published, and it is no longer applicable Q: What happens if I have additional solar PV panels fitted - would the whole of my system qualify for the new feed-in tariff? A: The answer to this question varies, depending on when the first insta…

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Solar PV plus air source heat pumps: a case study of Donyatt village hall

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 5 August 2011 at 9:34 am

Solar PV plus air source heat pumps: a case study of Donyatt village hall

South east facing solar PV panels on a nearby roof got David Willis thinking that they might be an option for Donyatt Village Hall in Somerset. "They were facing a bit east of south east, and yet the performance is better than my solar pv panels on a south facing roof with slight shade first thi…

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Off-grid solar electricity: a case study of a field studies centre

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 August 2011 at 12:37 pm

Off-grid solar electricity: a case study of a field studies centre

Solar generated electricity is the perfect answer for the Stafford Marsh field studies building on the Axe Estuary wetlands in East Devon. Off-grid, and a hard place to get electricity to, it was a "no brainer" according to nature reserve officer, Fraser Rush. This is the first off-grid installat…

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