Anyone traveling through Linlithgow by train will have noticed the many solar panels fitted to the roofs of a wide variety of homes and community buildings. There are so many, that within some circles such as the Transition movement, The Energy Savings Trust (EST), Local Energy Scotland (LES), and even the Scottish Government, Linlithgow has been dubbed the solar town of Scotland. It all started with the Transition Linlithgow (TL) and its predecessor Linlithgow Climate Challenge, bulk buy schemes for solar thermal and solar PV between 2010 and 2012. Many people took the opportunity and took independent advice from TL and, if all was well, proceeded with the installation of their solar panels at a discounted price. Just over 400 systems have been installed as part of that project and many more followed independently after that period.
To date, the generating capacity from solar PV on domestic homes only (not counting businesses, schools etc.) is a staggering 1433.3 kwh (1.43 mWh) (source: MCS register) . This installed capacity, of what could arguably called Linlithgow’s existing “solar grid”, generates 1,289,970 kWh annually and is responsible for a carbon (CO2) reduction of 501,655 Kg a year. Imagine, just over 500 tonnes CO2 reduction/year from all those domestic solar PV systems. On top of this there is a similar amount from larger installations on community buildings such as schools and industrial units.
It can be difficult sometime to convince yourself that investing in renewable energy technologies can make a difference towards reducing the use of traditional sources of energy and a reduction in carbon emissions, but when you see the combined total figures to date it is clear that a difference has been made in Linlithgow. What began as a solar project from one of the community initiatives (Transition Linlithgow) has grown in a substantial saving in electricity cost and huge reduction in carbon emisions.
With solar PV becoming cheaper it is still very much worthwhile to install a PV system on your own home, even in the face of much reduced UK government incentive payments. The savings on a typical electricity bill alone and the knowledge that the overall carbon emission locally is reduced are a huge positive. Adding a battery such as the 6.5 kW Tesla storage unit, the daytime surplus generated electricity can be stored for use in the evening, adding to the energy savings already made. The batteries can be retrofitted to those who already have Solar PV systems.
Linlithgow Solar Co-op
It is with that in mind that some community members are currently contemplating the creation of a Linlithgow Solar Co-operative. A cooperative of people and solar PV owners to combine the generated electricity for use locally in the town. At present, any unused electricity is supplied to the national grid for which the solar PV owner gets an export tariff of just 4.85 pence per kWh. This unused power could be sold to the local energy Coop for a higher price than the Government is prepared to pay for it and in turn the local Solar Coop can provide energy to the local homes.
The solar co-op also aims to invest in the installation of further Solar PV arrays on homes to those who cannot afford to buy a PV system as well as the roofs of local business and industry such as in the Mill road Industrial Estate. Members could invest in the co-op by providing loans against an attractive interest rate.
The concept of a solar co-op is not a new one. Other towns and cities in the UK such as Edinburgh, Bristol and others are creating their own solar cooperative. The solar Cooperative is also a tried and tested concept with many benefits and rewards for all involved. The oldest established solar Cooperative has been celebrating their 25th anniversary this year and currently counts 3400 members. The ultimate aim is to provide the town as much as possible with local energy. That may be some time off just yet but as the current figures show, the combined strength of all the installations indicate a positive step forward in energy autonomy.
In the meantime Transition Linlithgow will continue to provide impartial assistance to those who are interesting in fitting solar panels to their roofs. Advice on the suitability of the roof as well as an indication of the amount of energy generated and assistance in obtaining planning consents if required. TL also offers advice on the new battery technology which can be fitted retrospectively to existing solar PV installations. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or at email@example.com
Indicative PV system information and approximate costs, energy generated per year and CO2 saved.
2 kW (8 panels) ~ £3900 - 1670 kWh, 700 kg CO2/year
3 kW (12 panels) ~ £4850 - 2505 kWh, 1050 kg CO2/year
4 kW (16 panels) ~ £5350 - 3340 kWh, 1400 kg CO2/year
6.5 kW (26 panels with Tesla Battery 6.5 kWh storage capacity) ~ £11,250 - 5500 kWh, 2275 kg CO2/year
A Tesla battery retrofit to existing PV system costs £5500
Transition Linlithgow can prepare a full cost/benefit analysis, including UK government Incentive payments, for consideration after a survey and discussion of your requirements.