The Solar Digest for Solar Power, Solar Energy and Photovoltaic PV News - Installation

A Year On and Solar Panels Prove A Success at the At-Bristol Science Centre

On the 28 February 2012, At-Bristol switched on the biggest solar panel system in central Bristol. A total of 208 individual panels were fitted on the science centre’s roof measuring an area approximately the size of two tennis courts – estimating enough power would be generated to supply around a dozen homes a year, but in fact the amount has been beaten by two households, equating to 14 altogether.

With sustainability high on the agenda for At-Bristol, this is fantastic news as it’s reduced the centre’s carbon footprint even further than initially planned. The 50 kilowatt peak (kWp) solar photovoltaic (PV) system provides a renewable source of energy for the building and its planned prevention of over 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from entering the atmosphere has also been beaten by nearly 3000kg of CO₂.

Chris Dunford, At-Bristol’s Sustainability Manager, said: “The results we’ve produced over the year have been brilliant, and exceeding what we planned is fantastic. It’s been interesting to see when the solar panels perform at their best, as well as their worst – it’s not actually the hottest days that produce the most amount of energy as there’s almost too much heat for the panels to cope with, instead it’s bright but cool days they work at their most efficient.

He adds: “Our best month was May last year when we produced 6,791 kWh of electricity during the month with the best day being 26 May where our readings were 358 kWh in one day alone. For the year our plan was 47,000 kWh and we actually managed 48,637 kWh and this was even with three days when the panels were effectively out of action with a reading of zero with the heavy snowfall in January. We obviously can’t predict the weather but knowing our solar panels are capable of producing more than we first hoped is very good.”

Since the installation of the PV panels, At-Bristol has won several sustainability awards and further developed its public programming on a sustainability level. School workshops now include looking at how the panels work, tours of the way the centre’s building systems work have been very popular due to the unique and sustainable way At-Bristol is run, a panel has been installed in the foyer with a live reading of the output from the panels.

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