Installing solar panels is a great way of reducing your electricity bill and saving your business money; this much has been proven over the last decade or so. Plenty of domestic and commercial properties across the country have taken advantage of this eco-friendly method of generating energy and lots more are beginning to follow suit. The option to feed electricity bank into the grid for cash is also an extremely appealing perk.
Nevertheless, it is widely believed amongst some of the UK’s top scientists and energy experts that many properties are not getting the most out of their solar panels. Why? Because they are facing the wrong way!
The South-Facing Delusion
In the northern hemisphere the majority of solar panels are south-facing as it is believed they will catch more sunlight. It’s the same old adage when we look for a property to live in – a south facing garden sees more continuous sunlight, right? Wrong! This is a common misconception for solar PV technology, as west-facing panels are able to generate a more steady flow of electricity when compared with south-facing panels.
Solar panels that face towards the south experience large spikes of energy, especially around lunchtime when the sun is at its highest in the sky. Therefore the flow is unsteady and unpredictable. This is the view of Professor Ralph Gottshalg, one of Britain’s leading energy experts from Loughborough University. He argues that a lunchtime flood of solar power, on an extremely sunny day, will disrupt the energy grid and create electricity that is so cheap it “almost has to be given away.”
Germany has recently experienced such a problem and therefore they have implemented a policy where solar panels are now installed on east/west facing rooftops. This steadies the supply of power throughout the day and prevents large spikes at lunchtime that the grid struggles to cope with. Professor Gottshalg has urged the UK to follow suit and ditch the south-facing conventional approach.
West-Facing Solar Panels
Studies in the US have revealed that west-facing panels actually receive more steady energy from the sun and at more suitable times. The research, carried out by The Pecan Street Research Institute, takes into account both domestic and commercial properties in Austin, Texas. Researchers found that although these panels may produce less energy overall (in terms of an exact amount) they do generate more consistent energy throughout the course of a day.
The difference in overall energy production is very small to be fair, with west-facing panels producing only 2% less than south-facing ones. However, when it comes to grid dependence, this was reduced by 65% as opposed to 54% with south-facing panels. This is extremely positive news for large commercial buildings that have widespread efficiency protocols.
Solar PV with RCG
New regulations and protocols have made installing large scale commercial and industrial solar systems incredibly complex. Not only may you need planning permission, but also a DNO application and EPC requirements too. Here at Roofing Consultants Group we can take care of the whole process from start to finish. We will also make sure to install your panels facing the right way! Give our team a call today for more information.