When Howard Bell sort to install a solar renewable energy system to power his Grade II listed property he knew it could be “tricky.”
The Oxfordshire resident had already had another solar PV installation on a former stable, now holiday-let annex, pass through planning smoothly, but the main house would be a different proposition.
Listed Building Consent
Although most properties do not need planning permission to install a domestic solar system, because they are considered a permitted development, with listed buildings, owners need to seek planning permission as well as an additional layer of approval, Listed Building Consent.
Listed Building Consent allows planning authorities the ability to ensure that any changes to listed buildings are appropriate and sympathetic to their character.
Problem 1 – Solar PV on Grade II Building
Howard said: “There were a number of issues with putting a system directly on the main house which made it a non-starter really. We didn’t want to put panels on our Cotswold stone roof and, in any case, planning would unlikely be granted on a Grade II listed property.
“Also, the roof of the main house is orientated East to West.”
Solution 1 – Alternative Location
The solution was to apply for planning for a 27-panel system on his 2010-built carport and link this to the main house.
Problem 2 – Curtilage
However, the issues didn’t end there. Howard said: “The planners, we’ve discovered, have all sorts of rules for listed buildings, and one of those is that anything in the curtilage is also listed.”
The curtilage of a building is, in general terms, any area of land and other buildings that are around and associated with the principal building. Consequently, Howard needed planning permission and Listed Building Consent for both the annex, and the carport.
Howard said: “The annex planning went through smoothly, but when we did the carport it was slightly more tricky, partly because, unlike the annex, the carport system would be partially visible from the road.”
Solution 2 – In-roof Building-integrated PV System
In consultation with Howard, NGRE designed an in-roof, or roof integrated, system which would be less conspicuous than a conventional array and help allay any doubts the planners might have.
Managing Director of NGRE, Greg Bishop, said: “Every problem has a solution and each PV system is different so with our experience we were able to suggest a product and design which we thought could overcome Howard’s issues.
“While a conventional solar array is mounted on top of an existing roof using brackets and rails, an in-roof array replaces that section of roof-covering, with a purpose-made, water-proof frame fixed to the roof battens. The PV panels are then fixed flush with the tiles or other roof-covering which is fitted around them.”
Howard said: “Greg is very knowledgeable, immediately dispelled a few myths and came up with this in-roof system which seemed ideal. And that proved to be the case.”
See our case study, “In-Roof PV System A Smart Finish For NGRE Customer”, for a more detailed look at in-roof systems.
Success – “Really Positive” Reaction
Following planning and Listed Building Consent applications, the planners were happy to approve the design only stipulating that Howard install solid black panels.
Howard said: “There was a negative reaction to the plans from the parish council. It’s amazing the objections you get particularly when you’re trying to invest in green technology. Their suggestion was that we put the panels on the ground somewhere!
“But we tried to convince the planners that we had thought about the design carefully and that it was only partially visible from the road and fortunately they did not see it as an eyesore.
“The panels form part of the roof now. We went for the in-roof system, so it looks more part of the building rather than stuck on.
“We’re absolutely pleased with the aesthetics, with the clean lines and the fact that they are all black.”
He added: “People haven’t really noticed that they’re there. Those that have noticed have been really positive. We’ve had several comments about how smart they are and asking who fitted them.”
The System – Clearline Fusion
Howard’s system comprises 27, Viridian 335 w monocrystalline panels, fitted using Viridian’s Clearline Fusion roof integrated system.
Greg said: “The final design we came up with was to Install the panels in three rows of nine in landscape orientation which fitted the dimensions of the roof perfectly.”
The array provides a maximum power of 9.045 kWp and is connected to a SolarEdge 8 kW single phase inverter and a SolarEdge 10 kWh battery.
NGRE estimates that the PV system will generate 8,900 kWh of electricity annually.
In-roof – Building-integrated PV (BIPV)
Viridian’s Clearline Fusion system is part of a group of solar solutions called Building-integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) which integrate solar cells into elements that make up the fabric of the building itself rather than being bolt-on.
At Howard’s property, the former roof covering of Welsh slate was completely removed on the South elevation, followed by the installation of the Clearline Fusion system. The slate was then re-used around the system with Howard able to sell-on more than 500 slates that were not re-used.
For a more detailed look at Building-integrated PV, see our case study, “Almost Invisible” Solar PV Solution Increasingly Popular Renewable Energy Choice.”
Performance – Monthly Bills Halved
Howard said: “Obviously there is an environmental concern and reducing your carbon footprint, but also like others we wanted solar panels because of the rising cost of energy.
“We’ve tried to be environmentally friendly and we’ve installed a ground source heat pump in the past, but it is expensive to run, so the idea of partially powering that was attractive, although at the moment, through the summer, it’s just supplying heating,
“But in the month since the PV system was installed, the panels are giving us, on average, 50% of the electricity we use and sometimes, on a very sunny day, it can be as much as 80%. We’ll have to wait and see through the winter though.
“And, at the moment, our monthly bills are half what they were.”
He added: “What we’d really like to do now is have a windmill, but I don’t think there’s much chance of that!”
Howard will be able to monitor his system through an online portal or via the mySolarEdge mobile app. Using this he can keep track of his energy generation and energy usage either in real-time or historically using easy-to-follow charts, ensuring he uses the energy produced as efficiently as possible. Users, for example, can compare consumption with production to see where, when, and how much of their free energy is being consumed and how much is being exported to the grid, allowing them to change to more efficient usage patterns.
Are you Interested in a renewable solution be it solar PV or a Battery Storage System?
If you’re interested in taking advantage of the benefits of a solar renewable energy installation, be it a commercial or domestic solar PV installation, a domestic or commercial battery storage system or an EV charging point, from an MCS and NICEIC installer, fill out our contact form, and one of our experienced team will be in touch.
NGRE specialise in the supply of the latest renewable energy solutions for homeowners, architects, builders, businesses and community projects in Oxfordshire and surrounding areas and have more than 10 years’ experience.