DCE newsletter July 2016

Progress update: ten community PV installations now completed

Following solar panel installations during the Easter holidays at two schools in Blandford Forum and Bridport Primary School, Dorset Community Energy has now completed 10 solar PV installations.

Bridport Arts Centre and a further 4 schools have agreed to solar PV installations in the August summer holiday, including Budmouth College, which was not on the original project shortlist. Installers have been appointed for all sites except Budmouth College (currently being tendered).

The initial sites financed through the June 2015 share offer have all been successfully registered for the Feed-in Tariff and the first interest payments to members who invested in the June 2015 share offer will be made shortly after the October AGM.

The total solar panel installed capacity is currently on-course for 403 kW by the end of August, very close to the 407 kW target in the November 2015 Share Offer Document. If there is a final budget underspend St Mary’s C of E Primary School in Charminster has expressed interest in a 10kW solar PV installation.

Work is currently on-going finalising roof lease agreements for the remaining sites.

Proposed new website and Intranet

Chris Hall, one of the directors appointed at the November 2015 AGM, has previous experience in developing Intranets for large organisations including the Environment Agency and the Institute of Physics. He is researching Intranet options that will enable future collaboration between members (e.g. developing new activities) and for the schools with solar panels to share information with each other.

State-of-the-art solar PV monitoring displays

Dorset Community Energy has been piloting state-of-the-art web-based monitoring of solar electricity generation.

Bridport Primary School has been fitted with monitoring that shows on the same screen the school’s electricity consumption from the grid, the solar PV electricity generated and the PV electricity exported to the grid. At Bridport Primary all solar electricity is used on site during the school week and there is no export to the grid–which maximises the financial benefits of the free or low cost solar electricity.

There are many other benefits such as encouraging energy saving, as the grid energy consumption can be seen in real time and the baseline (or standby) electricity consumption can be seen when the school is not in use – for example 3kW at night in the red graph above – which is very good!

Where technically possible Dorset Community Energy intends to install similar monitoring in the remaining schools and also at Bridport Arts Centre.

Alison Jay, the Dorset County Council Eco Schools Officer, recently negotiated a final £2,000 grant from the Communities Living Sustainably in Dorset programme to purchase 10 wall-mounted smart TV’s which will be placed in the entrance foyers of schools with solar panels, so visitors and pupils can view solar energy graphs like those above. The funding also allowed the purchase of solar energy models and solar educational kits for primary school pupils.

Also all school staff and pupils can directly view and analyse the solar display data from a weblink, which could provide a useful educational resource for secondary school pupils.

Education meeting in Dorchester 7:00pm Monday 11th July

Members of Dorset Community Energy with an interest in sustainable energy education are invited to a meeting in the Dorset Room, Colliton Club, Dorchester DT1 1XJ on the evening of Monday 11th July. Refreshments will be available from 6:45pm for a 7:00pm start.

All Dorset Community Energy solar PV installations on schools should be completed by September 2016 and fitted with displays and web- based monitoring. A number of teachers have expressed interest in helping to develop educational resources and linking the solar PV data to the science or environmental
curriculum. Also Dorset Community Energy has purchased solar energy kits and components for use by primary school pupils to build solar powered models, etc. Several members have expressed interest in working on a voluntary basis to help develop educational resources.

The main agenda item will be an open discussion to explore ideas and the level of interest in supporting future educational activities. There will be introductory short presentations from Alison Jay, the Dorset County Council Eco Schools Officer, Max Bishop, the County Council’s Schools Energy Officer and Pete West, Dorset Community Energy Secretary, who will demonstrate the web based monitoring and the equipment for making solar models.

All members are welcome.