During Autumn 2021, new Solar PV arrays were installed across 7 buildings on Whiteknights campus creating a huge annual energy and carbon saving. The project was delivered by Salix, and funded by the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS), whereby a grant was awarded to The University in order for us to be able to carry out such instalments to meet our net zero by 2030 target.
What is a Solar PV array?
A Solar PV array is an assembly of photovoltaic panels, that are most commonly known as solar panels. Across our university campuses in total, we have 3400 solar panels currently installed. Solar panels work by absorbing sunlight, and then converting this captured light into useful energy to power buildings. If you want to read more about solar panels at The University, then you can click here to visit our webpage: Carbon Management Projects – Sustainability (reading.ac.uk).
Where were the Solar PV arrays installed?
During this 2021 project we installed new Solar PV arrays across several rooftops on campus buildings. The building with the most installed on was JJ Thomson, this is because this building houses our computational sciences department and multiple computer labs. Therefore, this building needs a lot of energy to power! The building is also newly insulated with a decent roof, perfect for this project. The table below lists all the buildings and installations.
Overall, the new solar PV installations created huge annual energy and carbon savings. The coordinator of the project Dr. Samantha Mudie, who also works as an energy officer in our Sustainability Services team, commented her approval on the outcome: “The project is just as successful as initially anticipated, saving within 0.7% of the predicted kWh and tonnes of carbon, set in the original Salix estimation.”
To be specific about the savings, the new installation has saved £81,191, 534,153 kWh of energy and 124.53t CO2e a year. To put these savings into perspective, on average one UK household generates a carbon footprint of 1.1 tonnes of CO2 per year, therefore the solar PV installations have saved the equivalent of 113 homes worth of CO2 annually. To read more about the carbon footprint of buildings, click this link: Average Carbon Footprint Per House In The UK (energyguide.org.uk).
However, the payback time of 6.81 years was calculated to be double that of the pre- project prediction of 3.30 years. The doubled pay back time is due to the increase in the total project cost of £552,948 compared with £515,000. Nevertheless, the overall outcome is positive, and has generated some fantastic carbon and energy savings!
The table below summarises the results of the Solar PV installations
Julia Cope, Sustainability Services