Monday, 11 May 2015

Where should we put solar panels? In fields or on roofs?

The community energy organisation SidEnergy has asked for roof space for solar panels - and will be meeting tomorrow to discuss this and other projects at its AGM:
Futures Forum: SidEnergy >>> 'We need roofs' >>> solar panel installation

The question has recently been asked as to why the District Council is not considering investing in solar panels - to be sited on the roofs of its buildings
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: investing in renewable technologies to keep energy bills down

Meanwhile, the 'anti-fracking' village of Balcombe in West Sussex is quite happy to have solar panels on its meadows:


Solar farm honey might be our favourite thing ever | 1010
Futures Forum: "The fracking village is going 100% solar"

Nevertheless, it has been pointed out that badly-placed solar panels hardly enhance the look of meadowland:

Solar farms.. viewed from the AONB. | East Devon Watch
Save Clyst St Mary campaign…NEW PROPOSALS AND IMPORTANT MEETING | East Devon Watch

This comment  referred to the recent controversial application for a solar farm in East Devon - which had those on both sides of the argument talking about building on agricultural land:
Futures Forum: Is the proposed solar farm at Clyst St Mary to be built on 'prime agricultural land'?

Roofs seem to be a good place to put the panels:

Solar laminated panels on Microhouse 3 - YouTube

A worker mounts 320 square metres of solar panels on the roof of a farmstead barn in Binsham near Landshut March 21, 2012.

Solar power in Germany: How a cloudy country became the world leader in solar energy.
Berlin: Solardachbörse - Solar Roof Initiative


France is requiring that new commercial buildings “green” their roofs. Air pollution has been appallingly high across the country, especially in Paris
France Mandates New Roofs Must Be Covered in Solar Panels or Plants » EcoWatch
France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panels | World news | The Guardian

There are alternative, and perhaps more imaginative, proposals out there for solar panels:

Community Energy Challenge | Centre for Sustainable Energy
HA launches contest to trial energy-generating noise barriers
'Groundbreaking' M40 noise reduction proposed for Bucks (From Bucks Free Press)

Image Courtesy www.Inhabitat.com

First Solar Road Opens -Netherlands SolaRoad | Connect-Green
Futures Forum: Alternatives to asphalt for building roads ..... gravel, or ..... concrete, or ..... glass as solar panels

Solar Power from Africa to Europe: One Step Closer
Engineering Club Talk - Wednesday 25 March

Ultimately, it does seem that solar energy is seen as preferable to fracking in the UK:
Futures Forum: "Public consistently backs solar over shale."

There are certainly downsides to solar panels:
recycling after 20 years life?

Dallas actor Larry Hagman promotes solar powar company

Are solar panels the next e-waste? | Environment | The Guardian
EVs: Green for life? | Automotive Manufacturing Solutions
Solar Panel Recycling and Total Energy Use | The Energy Collective

> pollutants used in production?

factory worker in China inspects

Solar Energy Isn’t Always as Green as You Think - IEEE Spectrum
Environmental Impacts of Solar Power | Union of Concerned Scientists
Materials Used in Solar Panels

However, we do need alternatives to burning fossil fuels:

A migrant laborer carries a bottle of water in the Dwarka sector of New Delhi. A UN report released in March warned of an urgent need to manage the world’s water more sustainably and said too much groundwater is being extracted in India and China.

Can India lead on green buildings, clean energy and corporate sustainability? | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian

Air pollution in India - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

... such as geothemal:

Geothermal Energy in Iceland

Iceland Is Pushing Geothermal Boundaries With Magma-Generated Power
Geothermal | Prenal
SanbàPolis | Palestra di arrampicata a Trento
Geothermal energy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

... whatever Big Energy has to say on the subject:
The Outlook for Energy | ExxonMobil
Futures Forum: "Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century."
Futures Forum: "The disingenuous campaign to promote coal as the solution to energy poverty"
Futures Forum: "Exposing the futuristic fantasies deployed by the fossil-fuel companies"

Whatever choices are made, the UK has made a commitment to reducing its energy consumption:
Why are energy performance certificates being introduced?
Carbon Credit Verification and Standards

Here is the bigger picture on solar energy:
Futures Forum: What are the arguments for and against solar farms?

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