Let there be light
ANEW report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and BRE National Solar Centre provides an invaluable guide to ‘how solar panels on buildings can look good, whatever the structure or surrounding landscape’.
‘The English countryside can make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions,’ says CPRE chief executive Shaun Spiers. ‘We need to find cleaner sources of energy, but this should not be at the price of unacceptable harm to our countryside.’
Solar panels, mostly attached to non-listed buildings—barns, greenhouses, outbuildings, etc—do not usually require planning permission.
There is little guidance available on how to do this appropriately, but with 800,000 home solar-panel systems installed in the UK since 2010, and new technologies reducing the cost of solar panels despite Government subsidy cuts, the CPRE’S report and 10-point how-to guide is long awaited.
Among various case studies and design tips, the charity advocates blending in at all costs, using, for example, panels that match the size and shape of existing roof tiles, covering an entire roof with panels, instead of a small portion, and the use of symmetry. Electricity can also be generated from a special type of solar glazing for windows—ideal for greenhouses.
Leonie Greene of the Solar Trade Association comments: ‘Given the great range of products on offer today and some fabulous examples of best practice, there is no excuse for solar roofs that are anything less than stunning.’ Visit www.cpre.org.uk for information and to download the guides