The Isles of Scilly is poised to start making more locally-produced energy from its sunshine.
Each week between late May and August, a number of Council homes and properties will be fitted with solar panels, eventually generating more than 60% of the total solar energy capacity installed on the islands.
Between 1981 and 2010 – the latest period for which data is available from the Met Office – the islands received nearly 280 hours more sunshine each year than London on average. However, locally-produced renewable energy generation is under 2% of the islands' annual demand, 270kW, mainly from solar PV on rooftops.
The Smart Energy Islands project, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, will increase this by 250% - installing a further 450kW.
Last summer, 105 Council homes on the islands were surveyed by renewable energy specialists Natural Generation for their suitability to host rooftop solar PV panels and other energy efficiency equipment. Now, more than 70 homes will host new solar panels and 100 homes will benefit from energy efficiency measures.
Installations at 100 homes are being planned in a 12-week programme, with work being completed in about eight or so homes each week. The programme is expected to start on Monday 21 May and end in late August.
Each week the installation team will be working on a different part of the islands and while there will be some scaffolding and construction work, disruption will be minimised.
Over the coming weeks:
* Contractor Natural Generation’s compound will be set up at the Carn Thomas site on St. Mary’s. This will be used for offices and storage.
* A large shipment of solar panels and scaffolding will be arriving at the quay on St. Mary’s.
* There will be additional publicity about the project on Radio Scilly and in This is Scilly.
* A Smart Energy Room will be established at the Porthmellon Enterprise Centre where products can be viewed and questions answered.
In late spring, the Isles of Scilly Community Venture will launch a new, special electricity deal for the people of Scilly, which will enable all islanders to benefit from the renewable energy being generated if they choose to switch their supply to the new deal.
To manage the islands-scale energy control system, the Smart Energy Islands’ technology partners – Hitachi Europe, Moixa and PassivSystems – are building an Internet of Things-based technology platform to enable more efficient use of locally-produced energy.
Ready in Autumn 2018, it will monitor electricity loads in buildings, as well as electric vehicles, home batteries, smart heating technologies and other infrastructure, to optimise local energy use.
Smart Energy Islands is part of the Smart Islands Project.