Real Solar PV: data and experiences from a real solar photovoltaic installation

The Installation

After confirming with Directions Planning Consultancy(1) of Harrogate that there were no planning issues to be addressed, the system was booked and then installed by Clean Energy (Yorkshire)(2).

Located in Leeds, West Yorkshire, the installation is split into two arrays, one array facing 20° east of south and the other 20° south of west on two roofs with pitches of 25.5° and 22° respectively. A chimney, and two aerials mounted on it, cast a shadow which would have swept across a part of each array. To avoid this, the aerials were relocated to the northern end of the roof and the chimney was removed. An additonal roof at 20° south of west on top of a ground floor extension was also available but, as it was affected by a shadow from the wall and roof above it until late in the morning, it was decided to use the smaller almost south-facing roof instead. This configuration, with its more southerly aspect, also offered greater overall output from the 21 panel system.

The almost south-facing roof holds seven monocrystalline Canadian Solar CS5A190M panels (3) and the west-facing roof 14, all of which are connected to an SMA Sunny Boy 4000TL inverter (4) located indoors in a garage. The system is designed to deliver 3.99kWp and is monitored remotely using a bluetooth connection to an SMA Sunny Beam(5).

The government's decision, at very short-notice, to reduce the Feed in Tariff from 43.3p to 21p with effect from 12 December 2011 meant that arrangements for installations in the weeks prior were thrown into disarray. Like the vast majority of installers, Clean Energy experienced a shortage of components and had to revise their installation schedule and routine. Electricians and panel installers were despatched just as soon as they became available and worked from first light to dusk to ensure that work was completed before the deadline. Despite this, all of the work was of an excellent quality and to a high standard.

© Frank Jukes 2011-16