Household and Community Solar Assessment Calculator

An intuitive app to support more people and communities to get solar power...

Project duration: April 2022 ongoing

The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) is building an intuitive app to support more people and communities to get solar power systems. The app will provide easy, quick, accurate and independent predictions about the viability for solar PV on buildings and homes. It will be used by individual households, communities and local authorities to accelerate decision making and investment planning.

Transforming the way we generate and use energy so we produce less carbon is a key to tackling the climate emergency and reaching net zero targets. Solar photovoltaics (PV) on buildings is a key part of the solution, but more people need to get involved. Solar PV is one of the most commercially viable net zero technologies but despite its huge potential, only 3.3% of the UK's 29m homes have solar panels. Uptake is hampered by uncertainty over site and rooftop viability and a lack of local, trusted information and support.

At CSE, our data analysts and software developers build analytical tools and models that provide insights into how we can change the energy system and address the climate emergency. With funding from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)’s Prospering from the Energy Revolution programme, we’re developing the 'Household and Community Solar Assessment Calculator'.

Based on an innovative methodology which combines national LiDAR elevation data with our own in-house building energy models and wider datasets, the calculator will provide independent information about solar PV viability at building level alongside advice on next steps and installation. It will also enable assessment of solar PV potential at local geographies like ward or parish level with options for users to download and analyse wider datasets.

What do homeowners, communities and local authorities need to know about solar PV?

To accelerate the growth of solar power to the levels recommended by the Climate Change Committee (40GW by 2030) people need support and access to trusted information to assess how practical solar PV would be on their individual building and for their specific needs.

Homeowners want quick, accurate, independent predictions about the potential for PV on their homes. Community groups want to identify buildings within their neighbourhoods that offer the best potential for PV to plan community energy and group solar buying projects. Meanwhile, parish and town councils alongside larger district, unitary and county authorities want to understand the viability of PV for their own buildings and the contribution rooftop solar could make to their climate emergency responses.

Collaboration is key

CSE is designing and developing the Household and Community Solar Assessment Calculator tool in collaboration with Sharenergy (which runs the flagship Big Solar Coop and has supported the establishment of over 60 community solar coops which own and operate solar PV arrays across the UK) and Bath & West Community Energy (installing community-owned solar on schools, public buildings and other non-domestic buildings and with a network of investors interested in household PV installations).

CSE will also consult widely through our community energy and local council networks working on net zero delivery. This will ensure that the calculator is accessible to newcomers to solar PV as well as those who are more informed and in need of further information.

Extensive change is needed to tackle the climate emergency. A greener, smarter and fairer energy system is a big part of this and everyone has to be involved. The challenge is big, but achievable and the Household and Community Solar Assessment Calculator can be part of the solution. It will make the benefits of installing solar PV clearer for individual home and building owners, accelerate the decision-making process and enable trusted community PV schemes to flourish.

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