St Agnes Leading The Way On Solar Power

St Agnes School

St Agnes might be one of the smallest and most remote communities in the UK, but it appears to be leading the rest when it comes to solar power.

The UK’s most south westerly community boasts a massive 31% of homes with photovoltaic, or PV, panels and 16% with solar thermal installations.

There are 32 households on the island, not including holiday lets.

Islander Chris Simmonds told ScillyToday that many of the installations are well hidden and a casual walk around the island would not spot them.

Andrew Tanner, Director of Penzance-based solar PV company, Plug into the Sun, says that’s well above the 1 or 2% seen in most communities on the mainland.

Andrew says this figure has been achieved despite the challenging location of many of the installations.

He says the exposed nature of the islands means the panels he’s fitted have had to withstand high levels of salt and winds up to 100mph.

And this isn’t the only first for the islands.

Andrew says their installation at the school on St Martin’s, which has been running for almost three years, is producing the highest power per unit panel of any system in the country.

Panels are normally rated in the theoretical kW hours of power they will generate. In Cornwall, a panel rated at 1kW will produce around 1000kW hours of power. This is higher than the average across the UK, which is 850 kW hours.

But the St Martin’s system is producing an average of 1200 kW hours, almost 50% more than the UK average. This, says Andrew, underlines the potential of Scilly for production of solar power.

Andrew says they’ve just completed a solar installation at the new Five Islands School on St Mary’s, using a brand new panel design integrated into the roof, which means all the Five Island School sites are now generating solar power.

Bursar and estate manager from Five Islands School, Caroline King said, ”It is part of a sustainable vision which has been extended to all our school sites.”

“Public buildings of a certain size have to demonstrate improvements in carbon emissions. It is important that our school leads the way for future generations and sets an example to protect the Island’s environment from rising sea levels.”