The guide – 2
This is an example using solar that is part of the Energy Local Brixton Club, as an example, imagine you are part of the club. In your actual club the generation may be solar, wind or anaerobic digestion. The principle is the same, you will just need to look out for sunny or windy days or use the Energy Dashboard online.
The Roupell Park Council estate in Brixton, London, is an estate of low rise housing. It is also home to one of London’s first community-owned solar installations. In 2013, not-for-profit Repowering London launched a community share offer inviting members of the local community to buy shares, some as small as £50, in the co-operative Brixton Energy Solar 3. However, while the solar arrays are community-owned, it has so far not been possible to use the much cheaper electricity from the solar on the shared roof space to help residents living in Roupell Park to reduce their bills. At present, the energy from the solar panels supplies only the lighting in the communal hallways and the lifts. The solar panels on one roof will generate maximum of 30kWh in one hour on a very sunny day. Imagine you live in Roupell Park.
You’ll be able to keep track of the solar generation on an Energy Dashboard online. And if you keep an eye on how sunny it is, with a bit of practice, you’ll be able to make a good guess at how much electricity is being generated.
The amount of electricity the solar is generating will be measured in half hour chunks, just like your smart meter will measure how much electricity you are using each half hour.
Here are a few (simplified) examples of what your share of the solar generation might be at different times:
Example 1- It is a lovely summers day only, some of the Energy Local Brixton households are using their appliances and the solar is generating lots of electricity, so your share is at its largest.
Between 1pm and 1:30pm, you are one of 15 Energy Local households who have programmed the washing machine to run in the middle of the day. The other 15 households are out enjoying the sunshine with their lights and appliances off. The solar generates 30kWh during this time, which is shared out equally between the 15 houses running their dishwashers and your share is 1kWh.
Example 2 – Only some of the Energy Local Brixton households are using their appliances but the solar isn’t generating much electricity as it is winter, so your share is smaller.
Between 1pm and 1:30pm, you are one of 15 Energy Local households who have programmed the washing machine to run in the middle of the day. The other 15 households are out enjoying the sunshine with their lights and appliances off. . There is not much sun in winter so the solar only generates 15kWh during this time, which is shared out equally between the 15 houses running their washing machines and this time your share is 0.5kWh.
Example 3 – The solar is generating a lot of electricity but it’s being shared between lots of the Energy Local Brixton households, so your share is smaller – not so good a time to run the washing machine.
It’s Saturday between 1pm and 1.30pm on a sunny day but you and most of the other Energy Local Brixton households are at home, using electricity to get the chores done. The solar generates 30kWh during this time, which is shared between 30 households cooking and watching TV and your share is 0.5kWh. So it’s not a good time to run the washing machine as well.
Household electricity use is more complicated than in the examples above, for example your washing machine will use more or less energy depending on the model and settings and households where the lights and appliance are off will still use a little bit of electricity e.g. to keep the fridge cold, but these situations can give you an idea of how your share of the electricity being generated might change at different times.
All the calculations will be done automatically and you will get a monthly report on how much of your electricity use has been matched to a share of the solar. You’ll also be able to check on a website or app at any time for up-to-date information.
All the electricity that you use that is matched to your share of the solar generation will cost you for example 8.5p per kWh, which is likely to be around half the price you currently pay.
Have a look at our explanation here to see how your electricity use will be a mixture of your share of the solar and extra electricity bought from the supplier.
When might your share be bigger – a good time to run washing machines etc.?
1) At off peak times like overnight and lunchtime when fewer households are using less electricity.
2) When it’s sunny and the solar is generating lots of electricity.
When might your share be smaller?
1) At peak times when more households are using more electricity, like tea time and at breakfast.
2) When it is dark or cloudy and the solar is generating little or no electricity.