Solar

Go-Go Solar Power!

An innovative solar photovoltaic (PV) canopy in London’s East End marks the start of a new partnership between the Environment Trust and renewable energy supplier, Green Energy UK. The station will power a new go-kart track in Mile End Park, and will also help supply green energy to area homes and businesses. Tower Hamlets Council has given planning permission for the UK Pound 1.4 million (US $2.7 million) park development.

A 110 kW canopy of PV panels made by Sanyo will cover the track to generate electricity, charge up the electric racing-karts and power trackside facilities. An arched steel structure will support the seven sets of hybrid, amorphous and polycrystalline PV panels together with a combination of translucent white and transparent clear fabric panels, which are intended to keep the rain off and allow daylight through. The canopy has been organized to support south-facing ‘blades’, which will be inclined at around 40 degrees to face the part of the sky that is brightest on average over the year. The design should maximize the output of solar energy, making it as efficient as possible in UK light conditions. It will achieve 1.4 percent of the total of renewable energy targets for installed PV by 2010, and six percent of the target in commercial buildings as set out in the Mayor of London’s draft energy strategy. The project was inspired by The Environment Trust, which has championed community initiatives and regeneration. “We are interested in the means of supply and production, and Green Energy UK is the only company which we think is ethical enough and whose credentials are sufficiently green,” Jon Aldenton, Chief Executive of The Environment Trust. “Together we are determined to shift people’s perceptions about sustainable energy.” Excess electricity generated by the station will be bought by Green Energy UK. Doug Stewart, who is the chief executive of Green Energy UK, said “We estimate this project alone will result in an annual saving of 38 tons of carbon dioxide. And the Trust will have the added benefit of selling the surplus electricity, giving it extra money to invest in other amenities in the park.” Go-kart operator Revolution Karting also attaches importance to the sustainability of the project. Chief executive Alan Harris said it is a virtuous circle for his company demonstrating and promoting renewable energy. “The solar canopy will keep the go-kart track dry and warm, extending its operating hours and making it an all-weather, year-round facility,” he said. “What’s more, electric go-karts go faster than petrol ones and they’re silent.”