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Developments to Renewables Map

Apart from the data being the most complete and accurate of any of the equivalent resources, Renewables Map is being further developed towards being a one stop shop for all data that is generally available online.

Showing More data

Many of the over 3,000 projects listed within renewables map now have the DECC and for active projects, the OFGEM data shown. This data is of course only available where the corresponding data has been listed by these organisations.  OFGEM is invariably up to date as subsidy payments are dependent on OFGEM being informed. DECC is not so consistent in maintaining its data, don’t blame me if that data is missing.

Address data is being added along with a separate postcode and county entry.

(ongoing) Associated company data is now being applied to all projects showing developer, owner and operator.  This is intelligently linked so by clicking on the associated business you get to see their contact details, then a list of their projects, again all hyperlinked.

(coming soon) The ability to select data sets and download to a csv file. An example might be:

All solar projects in Kent with number of panels, acreage, address, developer, capacity.


The latitude and longitude and elevation of all Vestas V90 turbines in the UK along with the associated project.

Offshore projects

For offshore projects, there is a direct link to the 4coffshore resource and their map embedded (with 4coffshore’s permission) .  Have a look at Kentish Flats Wind Farm  you will also be able to see corresponding data from DECC and OFGEM where this exists.


The ability to specify in greater detail what will be seen, eg just particular turbines or all projects for a particular developer or in a particular county.

Smart Data 

In the future will be the ability to login and manage private data alongside data from the Renewables Map.  That is fairly straightforward as the user management exists within the software and I use it, however it will have to pay for itself first.

But I’m not seeing all this extra data !

Your 1st visit of the day will show most of the additional data, then you will be switched back to the restricted version.

Alternatively have a look at   http://www.renewables-map.co.uk/details.asp?pageid=1940

Renewables Map gets over 10,000 unique visitors each month looking at over 30,000 project pages. 30% are regular visitors, many using the renewable energy  map as a routine resource.

My aim was to have everything on the renewable energy database and map a completely free resource and have been writing to the biggest users who are also the biggest power companies and generators.

I’ll list the biggest power companies: EDF; E.on; npower; Scottish Power;SSE . Lets add the generators: Airtricity, Ecotricity; Infinis; Energis; REG; RES; lightsource;  – oh, and every other generator I’ve missed (sorry not too list you) . Lets add the wind companies like Siemens; Vestas; Enercon; Repower and Vattenfall and not to forget the associated companies like National Grid,  Narec, STFC.  Actually, find a list of all companies in any way associated with energy and specifically renewable energy  and they are my biggest users. Don’t forget to add the BBC and Associated Press – actually all the media.  Then there is every single council and Government Department including Parliament and even the FCO!

Why list all of these companies and organisations?   Well, I had started to write to them, they use the resource and it would be so much easier to sponsor than have a paid for resource. That at least would make it accessible to the equally large number of schools, colleges and universities that use the data.

So, what sort of response? Well, RWE and Vattenfall replied – the only ones. Both were a NO, they remain major users.

Everybody else didn’t even bother replying – but I’ve only contacted a small number so far. It gets very depressing.  Ecotricity emailed to ask for a download of all the data I have collected over the last many years.  I politely suggested that I couldn’t do this for free, I didn’t even get a response, they remain major users, I’ve tried contacting again, no response.

Same for Bloomberg – have you seen the price of their terminals !

Crown Estates – they even state they offer sponsorship – No!

You can read about my attempt to simply carry on doing this but for DECC here: DECC RESTATS .  depressing isn’t it.  The people who won the contract – Eunomia rapidly became one of the biggest visitors to Renewables Map, only stopping when I wrote to Jayne Redrup of DECC complaining about what clearly looked like data mining /  plagiarism.

Anyway a last attempt at keeping all this free is going to be an approach to Heritage Lottery fund. I really want this to remain the best and be free access. Its just that as an individual providing a service to – yes the list of companies and organisations above –  that is a bit silly.

So.  renewables map will aim go from strength to strength, remaining the best , it will unfortunately move towards a paid for model.



Midnight Sun – Solar Energy

I’ve just seen an advert for “Midnight Sun” in the daily mail. This is from a company called AWE – nothing to do with AWE Aldermaston which makes nuclear weapons.
Along with solar panels and the rest of the eco type stuff, they are marketing a gizmo called Midnight Sun which supposedly stores energy generated through the day for use during the night, thus saving you money ! Ostensibly a good idea but what is it.
Well, it can only be a battery, a battery charger and an inverter, hopefully a bit more electronics to synchronize with the phase of any solar panel inverter (Otherwise you are simply charging from the mains) .
Further research says about 9kWh of storage and 5kWh available (think 9 and 5 units of electricity ) So in simple terms a deep cycle battery, on ebay look for deep cycle gel battery 12volt  170ah which equates to about 8.5kWh and is about £250.  Battery chargers aren’t expensive and inverters much the same, lets say £100 each for the top of the range, maybe £600 worth of kit including something to balance the phases.  The deep cycle battery has maybe 700 cycles before it needs replacing.
This £600 worth of equipment will potentially store 5kWh of unused solar energy, assuming that over the day there is any unused solar energy and that the sun is out, so it might work at near capacity during the summer , hardly at all during the winter.
So we might save at max 5 units of electricity, lets say an average of 3 units a night -I’m being very generous!  Each unit represents maybe 6p taking into account the savings in not buying it and the loss in not exporting it. Our £600 investment  saves us at best about 20p a night or maybe £60 a year!  So, ignoring battery replacement and any “money” cost associated with having £600 invested in batteries and not invested in savings, even at 1%, we have at minimum a 10 year payback.
Now have a look at their website : http://www.aweenergy.com/midnight_sun.php.
I was drawn to this by the full page advert in the daily mail for “Midnight Sun”  / “Solar PV Payback Scheme” It sounds good, no mention of batteries, lots of “Solar Energy” , “Stored energy” etc. No mention of price nor actual savings.
Now read this: http://www.navitron.org.uk/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=c24b607093cc3df8638529bcb5fefcbb&topic=18595.15 and we get an idea of the price, not £600, not £1,000 which might allow a bit of profit.
No, to get a price, apparently (according to the Navitron subscribers) you have to have the salesman visit, salesman usually equals a lot of commission .  Well, the prices I have come across are from £5,500 upwards.
So, with a saving of £60 a year and that assumes the system really stores ONLY excess solar power! That means over 100 years to recoup your investment, but the batteries won’t last that long, maybe 5 years?
I suppose as a UPS / Battery backup it might work, but UPS’s are in the region of £100 not £1,000s

FITs. Helping us generate energy or just a money making scam?

When the FITs were introduced I thought the rate was overly generous and unsustainable. A 10% return on investment would mean that anybody with a shed load of cash would get on the bandwagon, who cares if it generated any renewable energy, lets make some money!

My credentials, well read my other blogs, but yes, I bought 2.6 kilowatts worth, I paid £11,000 and had I delayed a year would have got the same for about £9,000 . Yes, I would have been financially better off by delaying my installation.

Which is why I welcomed the sharp drop in FIT rates, When the Feed in Tariffs started the standard 2kW system would cost about £12,000 or approaching £20,000 if you got scammed.  Prices have come down to as low as just over £6,000 almost half !  So, if £12K  was a great deal when FITs were 41p and index linked, why is £6K  not the same great deal with FITs at 21p !!  Actually its a slightly better deal!

To my mind the solar companies have really shot themselves in the foot. Rather than saying that low installation prices would make the drop in FITs match the return that early installers got, they said that solar panels were now unaffordable  But they are the cheapest they have ever been!  The idiots have told the public not to buy their product!

21p means the FIT scheme can be retained for far longer, it means the cost of installation can comedown and the industry retained.  At 43.3 it means the scheme must close overnight when the set amount of money has run out!

Church and charity warn on solar :http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16304817

DECC makes a brave decision

DECC – The Department for Energy and Climate Change has confirmed that large-scale solar PV is not for the UK. They have reduced the incentive to 8.5p per kWh  which means just about all the planned multi mega watt solar farms will not go ahead.  This is great news and means that the limited funds available through DECC will go to the smaller investor and not the city institutions who are after little more than a load of money.

What this will mean is that solar schemes will invariably be limited to roofs, which are dead space with no other use than keeping the things and people below, dry and warm.

It also means the solar scheme will almost certainly be installed close to where the power generated will be used, thus reducing transmission losses and limiting the need to upgrade the local power transmission lines.

And it means that those who are paying the higher bills that pay for the Feed in Tariffs will have more of an opportunity to benefit, not the bankers in the city.

I really struggle to understand why the solar industry is so upset, the Govt have not reduced the available cash at all, there will almost certainly be just as many installations, it’s just kept it out of the hands of the larger players.


Having seen a degradation in my solar water heating system’s operation over the last year or so I was a bit stuck for understanding what was going wrong, after all  there’s not much to go wrong.

A bit of rummaging around in the attic showed what the problem was, rat or rats had eaten through about a foot of the insulation, just next to where there was a draught!   I replaced the insulation, taped it up and the taps were running hot again!

So, if your solar water heating system is running just not up to scratch, check the pipes running between the roof mounted collectors and the hot water tank, they really must be well insulated!

Electricity isn’t the only form of energy

The planned RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) scheme is almost with us, but seems to be seriously watered down when it comes to solar water heating on domestic properties.

Where is most of domestic energy consumed? In heating!

How is most of that heat generated? By using gas or oil or coal, rarely electricity!

What do the government want us to cut down on?  Our consumption of gas and oil and coal.

Looking at hot water alone and lets say I have a choice of heating it using solar hot water or electricity. Throughout the summer I can have all my hot water heated by a solar water heater which comprises a contraption made up of glass, copper and insulating material, all relatively low tech but varying in efficiency depending on the way it is formed, perhaps solar flat plate or vacuum tube.

This solar water heater will cover between 4 and 6 square metres of my roof and provide all my hot water from , late spring to early autumn. The whole system will cost in the region of  £4,000, is reliable and relatively maintenance free.  Very little electricity is involved.

 Conversely, I could do the same job with £10,000 to £20,000 worth of solar PV, which while I might have to pay a great deal to  install, I will get paid Feed in Tariffs which will pay back the full costs in 10 years and give me a profit for another 15.  These solar PV panels are very costly to make, invariably imported from China, consume vast amounts of rare metals and are very costly in energy to manufacture.  

If the Government really wants to cut down on the use of energy, they should proactively support the installation of solar water heating, in my opinion to a greater extent than solar PV as there is a far greater carbon saving return per £ invested whether through grants or when considering the cost of the installation. 

More information on the  Renewable Heat Incentive and how it relates to Solar Water Heating can be seen here within a press release from the Solar Trades Association placed on the solaruk website. http://www.solaruk.net/news/solarenergy.asp?item=2170

The Government seem to have got hung up on electricity rather than energy.

A Solar Storm in a teacup.

Apparently my website www.SolarKent.co.uk is being taken to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) for .. well I’m not really sure as I don’t actually sell anything. 

While the whole, very strange comment from Barry at SolarTwin is here: http://bit.ly/gNcg3P  what it seems to be saying is that anybody who isn’t SolarTwin is misleading the public when they claim to offer free hot water from the sun, the premise being that as solartwin has a small photovoltaic panel that drives a circulating pump, then only they can claim to offer free solar hot water.

Oh dear! 

But if Solartwin is saying that their solar hot water is free while most other’s isn’t, perhaps Solartwin might identify what they actually mean?

I have solar hotwater and am very happy with it.  I prefer to

 regard it as paid for in advance, basically I have paid for a job lot of solar hot water when I had my panels installed, as with all installations it cost some thousands of pounds and certainly wasn’t free. But that’s the case with all solar systems. Once I have received my job lot of hot water its then free!

Other ways of looking at it are to simply wipe of the cost of the installation and then for parts of the year treat it as free or consider the savings on the alternative to using solar.  Personally I have no problem with the promotion of solar hot water as free, isn’t it?

As to SolarTwin’s statement that because there is a mains powered pump that uses paid for electricity the hot water is no longer free,  again, oh dear, should the Solar Industry collectively hold its head in shame?   Can ST solely claim this accolade of free hot water?

I have to wonder whether users of SolarTwin’s systems have some special dispensation from the water utility? Perhaps they have missed something here, water isn’t free, therefore hot water isn’t free!

Then using my approach of considering the payment for the solar system as an advance payment for hot water, if I was to buy a SolarTwin system then I would be purchasing a small solar PV unit instead of mains electricity, so also by their argument, not just the fact that water is charged for, their hot water is equally not free!

Is solar hot water free? Of course it is! Arguing about whether to include the cost of pumping, all or part of the solar hot water system, whatever, is so silly that it is a waste of anybody’s time. 

In my opinion – apart from selling the systems – there is only one matter that legitimate solar businesses should get concerned about within the industry and that is solar energy systems that are sold by aggressive high pressure sales-staff at prices far in excess of their worth to vulnerable people!

An example of solar PV embedded in a panel alargely for solar water heating can be seen below, this is taken from the www.solaruk.com website and shows a large scale system.

Solar water heating with embeded solar PV

The image shows a tracking array of solar vacuum tubes with the addition of a Solar Photovoltaic panel covering the solar thermal system's manifold, otherwise unused for direct energy collection.

Solar systems can be compared on this page: http://www.solarkent.co.uk/solar-water-heating/comparison.asp I don’t have direct access to current pricing so this might be out of date, however I expect the differential to be similar.  It looks like you pay a lot more for “freer” hot water from Solartwin than from others that they say are less free.