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Open University PV Study

Open University PV Study - Projects - Ridge & Partners LLP

The Open University, one of our many long-standing clients, had an ambition to add solar power to its estate.

The institution owns a large number of buildings with flat roofs, which it identified as potentially suitable hosts for solar heating or photovoltaic panels. When an opportunity arose to add either solar heating to pre-heat domestic hot water or PV panels to generate electricity to the roofs of four OU buildings designed by Ridge, the university called us in.

Ridge instigated a desk top study, informed by our detailed knowledge of the site, to determine which of the available roofs would be most suitable to use. The factors we considered included:

  • Orientation – Optimum output is achieved from solar heating and PV panels that face within 15° of due south and that are be fixed at an inclination of 30° to the horizontal.
  • Energy output – The energy output of a typical PV panel is approximately 130W/m², while a typical solar heating panel will generate approximately 750 W/m². It is therefore crucial to understand the energy requirement of the host building in order to maximise the energy potential of the roof space.
  • Feed in tariffs (FIT), introduced by the UK government in 2010, are a method by which the high capital cost of PV panels is offset by payments for the electricity generated, whether or not it is exported to the grid.

The results of our study showed that by taking advantage of the Feed in Tariffs, the university could operate PV panels that would generate simple paybacks that were acceptable, and within the life time of the FIT programme.

The project scope has now been extended on the basis of the feasibility report to consider a PV installation across the campus. The next steps are to manage a competitive tendering process and investigate the most advantageous funding mechanisms for the university.

Open University PV Study - Projects - Ridge & Partners LLP

Open University PV Study - Projects - Ridge & Partners LLP

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Open University PV Study - Projects - Ridge & Partners LLP

Open University PV Study - Projects - Ridge & Partners LLP

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