Since we put a small item in the most recent LotsOn (late May) we have had 20+ households say they are interested in a group scheme to purchase solar panels, hopefully at a discount. That’s not the end of the story! We hope that many more Derwenthorpe residents will choose to take part – the main benefits being that you catch your own electricity direct from the sun; and by so doing you can help reduce emission of greenhouse gases and therefore our impact on the climate. And we expect that buying in bulk, from a properly accredited installer, will give each of us savings and other benefits as customers.
We approached twelve firms which came up when we followed the link to “Trusted Traders” in this field; plus two which JRHT have worked with on recent solar panel projects locally. The replies vary in level of detail, but there’s plenty of interest in doing the work for us.
We also asked Richard Partington, architect for Derwenthorpe, about any special considerations which might apply here because of our special design features. His reply was very positive:
- at projects in Portsmouth and Nottingham they put panels on east- and west-facing roofs, not just south-facing, and “the efficiencies have greatly exceeded expectation”.
- if you have a sloping ceiling on the top floor the line of insulation follows the ceiling so make sure any penetrations for cables etc. are minimal and executed neatly.
- ask for advice about the best position for the associated kit (inverter, battery, meter, controller etc.) as it makes sense to group these together.
We’ve kept JRHT informed. We have to obtain their consent for solar panels on roofs, and it will be up to each of us to obtain this formally, but they are in favour of this project. We’re hopeful also that they will find space for a compound for the installation firm to use – which should save the firm, and us, time and money.
We have written to five firms with a Request for Information, inviting them to tell us what they can do and asking about:
- price per property for panels
- ditto for batteries
- discounts for larger numbers of houses
- health and safety
- whether they would they want an on-site compound
- contract arrangements with householders.
Other things (apart from cost) for us as residents to think about are:
- where in the house to site the associated bits (inverter etc.)
- whether you want a battery (to store electricity gained in the day, for use at night) – and if so where (heavy, so best on ground floor)
- whether you want to be able to charge a car from solar power, now or in future.
Once we have the firms’ replies we residents will have a discussion about the merits of each, leading to a decision as to which firm to work with. This will probably be a Zoom meeting involving the people who’ve been in touch so far. But we will also be open to comments, expressions of opinion and preferences from people who don’t want to or feel unable to take part in the Zoom thing. If you haven’t already been in touch about solar panels, you’re welcome to do so now (without obligation to commit to having the panels installed): email firstname.lastname@example.org
The next stage after that will be to send round a house-to-house questionnaire, giving a bit of relevant information and asking everyone to say whether they want to be part of the scheme (again without obligation).
Then we’ll go back to the chosen installer and work out arrangements for start on site; how they will deal with each householder; and how they want to organise progress of the work from house to house. Scaffolding will be involved!
Nick Hall, 38 Derwent Mews, YO10 3DN, 16th June 2020
Work in progress last year at one of the houses in Derwenthorpe