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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

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    • CommentAuthorJamster
    • CommentTimeJun 6th 2021
    OK - Hi everyone - this might not be the right place, but there's generally a good discussion to be had here around most things so I thought I'd give it a go.

    We have a v small farm / large smallholding and it features a mobile phone mast. This is at the end of its lease and we're into the early stages of being railroaded into a new one. If you're not familiar with this, there is a new 'code' which reduces a) landowners choice in having a mast and b) what the telecoms infrastructure companies offer landowners for rent, etc. So, for now lets ignore the rights and wrongs - this is just background.

    Some of the settlement options proposed are a lump sum rather than yearly rent; a disadvantage of this is that its taxable (fair enough) as a business profit if we can't invest it / spend it.

    As well as the usual farm money pit options, I've looked at using a lump sum as an investment in renewables on our land. We've a good steady wind, but planning would likely be a pain and would eat up a chunk of our investment pot. So I've thought more about PV - we have south-facing domestic panels so have generation data since April 2018. Planning is likely to be simple if not permitted development, we have a three-phase supply and land that would get an unobstructed level of any sun. Panels would be ground mounted.

    I want to model a few scenarios and wanted to seek your input on what options to think about. Overall investment pot could to be 20k to 30k including some top up from other funds. My very quick and dirty numbers convert a figure of £1800 year rent (over 10 years) to £2800 / yr (for greater than 10 years) based on last years domestic generation and option 1, below.

    1) All funds spent on PV panels and infrastructure. Export tariff of 5.5p / kWh.
    2) Combination of panels with battery storage allowing us to potentially access something like Octopus Agile Outgoing with a variable export tariff. We would be able to orientate the panels to charge the batteries to be ready to discharge at the optimum period.

    Am I missing anything? I know I'll not retire on this, but it seems worth thinking about. There may be an option to lever approx £50,000 from a long-term rental, but we're reluctant to so that unless there is good business case to do so. We generate around 4,400 kWh / yr from 4.2 kW of panels that are limited to 3.68 by the inverter. A 50kW array should give us around 50,000 kWh / yr.

    What do people think? We don't use as much power as a large farming operation does so I've ignored local generation / use savings.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJun 6th 2021
    I don’t think that you can assume 5.5p export tariff it is now open market and difficult

    I am a director of a community energy society and we still offer free solar panels to high daytime use customers, investors are getting over 5% interest historically - going forward a tad lower.

    Batteries are flavour of the month but consume capital, energy and commissions, increase energy use, the opposite of what we as a nation need to be doing.

    The market for energy selling will change dramatically over the medium term, virtual private wires will come in and better deals for selling

    Check the model but I would go for it, shop around for installer and sale deals - forget batteries
    On the Planning Permission / Permitted Development side of things, anything over 9 square metres of ground-mounted PV would need a planning application (4 or 5 panels?) so you would need to include the costs of the application and any consultancy in your figures.
    • CommentAuthorphiledge
    • CommentTimeJun 6th 2021
    Other than its on its way, I know little detail about the new farm payments scheme but there may be opportunity to put your capital into environmental schemes and generate income from the FPS system??
    • CommentAuthorrevor
    • CommentTimeJun 6th 2021
    You won't be able as a business sign up to Octopus export certainly that was the case a few months ago. I have just installed a 6 Kw ground array with a battery (pp was required) and that is proving to be very efficient although I think a battery on a commercial scale would not be viable. Over the last month have averaged 98% self sufficiency with some days 100% winter will by a different story of course. I get to use most of the generation surplus goes into the battery to cover what was used previous evening what goes to the grid covers the daily charge and a few pence over. Over the last week have only use 1Kwh from the grid so I am a battery convert but it is an expensive outlay and as long as there are no reliability issues it makes sense as you are future proofing against price increases which will continue at current rates I am led to believe until 2030.
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeJun 6th 2021 edited
    Can't contribute to the PV evaluation, but imagine it would be worth combining it with a low-carbon agricultural use for the land beneath - which may mean installing the panels high enough to walk / work under, rather than at ground level.

    Seems like there's been some work on this in the USA, at least:

    I see that they've also come up with the term 'Agrivoltaics'...
    • CommentAuthorrevor
    • CommentTimeJun 6th 2021
    Here in Wales from what I can make out only G3 land is generally used for large scale PV and they are mounted high enough for sheep to graze under, it also makes it easier for maintenance work. If you "rent" out your land to a PV development company the going rate about 5 years ago was £1000 an acre but PP is usually restricted to 25 years use or 35y in some circumstance.
    Posted By: Mike1but imagine it would be worth combining it with a low-carbon agricultural use for the land beneath - which may mean installing the panels high enough to walk / work under, rather than at ground level.

    Posted By: revorHere in Wales from what I can make out only G3 land is generally used for large scale PV and they are mounted high enough for sheep to graze under, it also makes it easier for maintenance work.

    I am wondering how much use the land under the PV would be as it will be in a rain shadow with the bottom edge (of the PV) being subject to erosion. I can't imagine much of any value growing under a row of PV.

    Over here PV farms are planted on very low grade land, locally max. 10cm of marginal (if any) topsoil then limestone.
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeJun 6th 2021 edited
    Yes, I've certainly seen PV+sheep, but apparently the economics of sheep aren't good (likely worse if rumours about the Australian trade deal are accurate), and not low-carbon. See also http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/newforum/comments.php?DiscussionID=16952&page=1#Item_16
    • CommentAuthorrevor
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2021
    The sheep offer a distinct bonus they keep the grass short so no need for machinery and labour to cut and avoids possible damage by a careless contractor as he has a conversation on his mobile phone.
    • CommentAuthorJamster
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2021
    Thanks all - some food for thought in there. I was thinking chickens for co-tenants of any panels as we need somewhere to keep them that isn't in the way. As a few of you have said, any surrounding land going to be marginal at best so if I can keep them clean, that's a useful side-avenue.

    Thanks for your other points - revor, I know you specified your own battery / pv setup so I'll read up separately with your previous posts on that. Tony, thanks for your viewpoint also - do you have a price per watt type cut off point at which your CES buys panels? I'm conscious that the panel market is volatile so a representative cost for panels is going to be important for cost forecasts.
    • CommentAuthorrevor
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2021
    Chicken can climb/part fly on your panels mess them and possibly scratch stem as they slide on the slippery surface.
    • CommentAuthorJamster
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2021
    Would they scratch a panel? I'd assumed anything tough enough to withstand a good hailstorm (and we've had a few) would be chicken proof, but for sure worth thinking about.
    • CommentAuthorrevor
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2021
    If they do not scratch your glass they will scratch the powder coated frames I reckon.
    • CommentAuthorjms452
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2021
    Chickens could work if you put the PV a bit higher - they will like the choice of shade or sun in their run.

    With commercial redline breed they won't fly more than about 4' without good reason.

    They will dust bathe so might mean you need to wash the PV more.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2021
    Domestic PV should be possible to find at £1000 per kWp

    Field scale should be below 800 per kWp but there can be other cost like connection cable run , transformers - I would be looking for lower than that for a big system
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