Deputy PM opens Sheffield Solar Farm

Posted on Thursday, August 26th, 2010 in News| Share this article
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has officially opened a major solar farm on the roof of a University of Sheffield building, as part of a £120,000 investment hoped to help lead the way in photovoltaic research and boost our knowledge of renewable energy.

The Liberal Democrat leader was given a tour of Sheffield Solar Farm, which features 70m² state-of-the-art photovoltaic panels on the roof of the University´s Hicks building. The panels will provide both the University and photovoltaics researchers and developers around the UK with the technology to field-test their new and experimental photovoltaic cell designs, as part of a bid to further our knowledge of renewable energy sources.

During his visit, Mr Clegg was given an insight into how equipment at the University will monitor the effectiveness of the photovoltaic technology being tried and tested on the roof, by logging data and displaying it on a specially designed website for the Solar Farm. This will include a live web-cam and web-feed demonstrating the actual power being generated by each panel, how the weather is affecting the amount of energy produced and the total power the sun is radiating on the roof, as well as offer a comparison of the different photovoltaic technologies.

The Solar Farm will tie into existing work underway at the University by Polymer Centre scientists to develop new generations of solar cells using plastic as opposed to silicon, something that would reduce processing costs and enable photovoltaic technology to be used on a wider scale. These new solar cells will now be put to the test on the Solar Farm.

Sheffield Solar Farm will enable the University to lead the way in the understanding of photovoltaics by engaging in knowledge transfer opportunities with developers, users and policy makers with the hope of driving the technology forward.

The news of the Solar Farm comes as the University of Sheffield launches a unique venture entitled Project Sunshine. The project aims to unite scientists in finding ways to harness the power of the sun as part of a bid to meet the increasing food and energy needs of the world´s population during a time of uncertain climate and global environment change.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, said: “As we face the huge challenges of climate change and energy security, it is vital the UK moves away from its reliance on fossil fuels and onto low carbon technologies. I am proud that the University of Sheffield is at the cutting edge of renewables research.”

Dr Alastair Buckley, from the University´s Department of Physics, who is leading the Sheffield Solar Farm project, said: “It´s great that Mr Clegg has been able to open the Solar Farm here today. It shows how committed the UK and the University is to investing in a diverse, sustainable energy mix that includes solar photovoltaics. We’ll make sure we report back to Mr Clegg about what we find.

Professor Tony Ryan OBE, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Science at the University of Sheffield, said: “The installation of the Solar Farm demonstrates our commitment to fundamental research that benefits society. It is an integral part of our work in Project Sunshine that aims to harness the power of the sun to tackle the biggest challenge facing the world today: meeting the increasing food and energy needs of the world’s population in the context of an uncertain climate and global environment change.”

Sheffield Solar Farm

Project Sunshine

University of Sheffield’s research into low cost plastic solar cells