Islington Solar Panel Programme

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1 Islington Solar Panel Programme Frequently Ask Questions When will it take place? It will take place during the November and December 2011 and the first stage will be completed during December Why is Islington doing the project? The reasons for doing the project are that solar panels generate renewable electricity which has a lot of benefits: o they generate an income via the feed-in tariff government scheme which will be used to pay for future energy saving projects, for example, insulation work and boiler replacements o they reduce energy costs for local residents and will help reduce fuel poverty o they reduce the building s carbon dioxide emissions o they put cleaner electricity into the grid. Who are the companies/y that will be installing the panels? Lakehouse will be installing PV panels on housing estates. To view Lakehouse s website please click here. Which type of property will have the panels installed? And why? We have chosen block buildings as a result of lengthy assessments over the past two years. The block buildings allow larger PV systems to be installed making a larger contribution to electricity generation. Will all estates have solar panels installed? No, not all will be suitable. Contractors are surveying properties in the borough to see which are suitable, using the following criteria: the roof should receive a suitable amount of sunlight (i.e. south facing, little or no shade) the roof must be structurally able to take the (low) weight of the panels the property must be able to safely transmit electricity. As a result old wiring systems will not be suitable. How much will be saved on residents communal energy bills? The amount that a household will save through communal charges will depend on four factors: how many solar panels are installed on HFI estates and therefore how much energy is being generated how much energy is used during the day the price that is paid for electricity via the feed in tariff the cost of buying electricity from the electricity company Any savings made will be shared by all residents living on HFI estates as the electricity generated is connected to the communal supply. This will mean that there will be a small saving per resident, this is the fairest way to share the money saved as not all block building roofs will be suitable for a solar panel. Residents will still need to pay for electricity bills as usual. How is the project being paid for?

2 The contractors are funding this project and they have secured the costs of buying and installing the solar panels from external investors. They will receive a return on their investment from the feed-in tariff they are paid (i.e. they will cover their costs by selling the electricity that is created). Therefore there is no cost to the council or residents but we will still receive the income for the energy saving projects and see a saving on energy bills. Maintenance costs will be covered by the contractor. I am a leaseholder will I have to pay for the works? No. There will be no charges for leaseholders or tenants. The contracts signed ensure that roof warranties are honoured where they are in place. Estate Properties All solar panel installations on estate block roofs will be attached to the communal areas and therefore there is no option to opt out of the project. The panels will be linked to the communal area electricity supply so that any lighting, door entry system, fire alarms, lifts, CCTV, concierge etc. will be powered through the solar panels. This will have an energy saving that will be reflected in the service charges residents pay. How will the programme be rolled out? Initial onsite surveys will be made of roofs that fit our criteria (see Will all estates have solar panels installed? ) to check they can structurally support the panel. Once the building has passed this survey then scaffolding will be erected, where necessary so the contractor can install the panels on the roof. Will the contractor need access to your home? The solar panel installation will not require the contractor to do any work inside your home and your supplies will be unaffected. There will be a short interruption to communal electricity supplies whilst the system is connected. You will not be charged for the cost of installing the solar panel as the project is funded by the contractor. You will remain with your existing electricity supplier and you will need to continue to pay your electricity bill as usual. What equipment is there and where does it go? The following pieces of equipment are the components of a solar PV system: Panels/modules these capture the sun s energy and convert it to electricity. Inverters electricity generated from the panels is in the form of direct current (DC). In order for this to be suitable for household and grid use, it must be converted to alternating current (AC). The inverter does this. Generation data is also sent from the inverter remotely so that we can monitor how the system is performing. Isolator switch isolators are safety mechanisms that allow for the system to be turned off for maintenance and when electrical works are taking place

3 Display the display is a screen that shows how much the system is generating. Sometimes the display is part of the inverter however, where inverters are inaccessible; we will provide a separate display. How long will the panels last for and will they need to be replaced? Panels have a life of between 30 and 40 years, while inverters have a life of between years. Panels will reduce in efficiency over their life (like a battery) so that at the end of the contract in 2036, the panels will be operating at between 75-80% of their original efficiency. The annual decrease in performance is very small at about 0.8%. Inverters must be replaced half way through the programme. We estimate that replacement of all inverters will be programmed in the years How reliable are the panels and how will they be maintained? Solar systems are very robust and require little maintenance. Annual checks of external systems are required. You will be informed of scheduled maintenance programmes. The contractor is responsible for all maintenance and will cover all costs. I live in a conservation area how will the panels affect the street scene? Are there any planning issues to consider? The council s planning department have confirmed that as long as the installations fit within the permitted development guidelines then planning consent will not be necessary. There will be a list of article 4 areas areas designated by the council where specific development controls are required of high conservation value. Such areas affected by the programme will be relayed to the planning department. We will negotiate with contractors and the department to ensure that where possible, residents in such areas can also benefit from the provision of PV without breaking our planning policy. Should we worry about pigeons, seagulls, leaves and trees affecting the panels? Any contamination on the panels that reduces output will be picked up by the remote reading of the panels generation (i.e. the system will show that something is wrong and that it is not doing what it should). This will lead to the contractors visiting the site and correcting the problem. Panels are made of self-cleaning glass we do not think that organic waste will present a major issue to the programme. When the rain does not remove the mess, cleaning will be done by the contractor. The growth and management of trees is an important issue for the project as branches and leaves may stop the sunlight that powers the solar panels. As this is a 25 year programme, what may be an acorn today, could become a shading risk in 2036! We will be discussing management practices for pollarding/cutting trees and intend to maintain the number of trees (and the enormous variety of benefits they bring) in the borough as a result of this project. What if my property is damaged as a result of the works? The contractors are bound to terms which ensure they take every possible precaution. However there is still a small risk that an accident or damage might take

4 place and in this case any damage will be fully investigated and if it is a result of the works it will be corrected. Where necessary, the contractors will take before and after photos to record the property s condition. The contracts signed ensure that roof warranties are honoured where they are in place. How safe is the new electricity- could I be electrocuted or could the panels catch fire? The electricity produced by the panels is as safe to use as the existing supply and has all the same safety devices in place. The panels are completely sealed and can be sprayed with water to clean down. There has never been a case of panels catching fire and the technology is very safe. Could the panels blow away in high winds or could they be stolen? The panel is designed to take into account the wind speeds in the local area and this determines the fixing of the panels. The panels are secured with security bolts that are hard to remove and all panels have unique serial numbers. Every panel in an installation has to be registered with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) with information on where it was manufactured and bought so they are of no use if stolen. This is a big deterrent to stop theft. Who will check that the installations have been done properly? Both Islington and the contractor will be monitoring installations to ensure the highest standards. All installations must be certified under the MCS. MCS ensures all installations in the UK meet a minimum standard. For more information please visit What do I need to tell my electricity supplier? Nothing, the contractor will advise all parties that require information of all changes. How noisy will the works be? The works are usually quiet as there is not much internal works to be carried out as the main works are on the roof itself. Because of the framing system used there is no drilling required when carrying out the work. Where will the panels go and how will they be attached? The solar PV panels will be installed on roofs only, and not on any walls. On flat roofs, the preferred attachment method will be weighted (ballasted) so that this does not penetrate the surface of the roof. On pitched roofs, the panels will need to be fixed. What happens to the panels at the end of the 25 year contract? At the end of the 25 year period, the ownership of the panels will be passed to Islington Council. We will no longer receive the Feed-in Tariff for these panels but, as the panels are likely to last a further 15 years, we will still be able to provide the free electricity that is generated by the panels which residents can continue to benefit from. What if I have a query about the works? If you have any queries to make about the works please contact Lakehouse on: telephone: or

5 Contact Details If you have any further questions about the FIT project please Glossary Renewable energy: energy which comes from natural resources such as, wind, tides, rain, sunlight and geothermal heat, all of which are naturally replenished. Photovoltaics: Solar Photovoltaics (PV) generate direct current electrical power from solar radiation using semiconductors that exhibit the photovoltaic effect. Photovoltaic power generation employs solar panels composed of a number of solar cells containing a photovoltaic material. Feed-in tariff: a government scheme whereby energy suppliers pay for the generation of renewable electricity for 25 years.

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