By Daisy Clague
On 23 April 2023, Power Up North London ran a workshop at Freightliners City Farm to educate staff, volunteers and visitors about the financial and climate benefits of solar energy. Freightliners is a free community farm in Islington that welcomes up to 40,000 visitors each year. With a variety of farm animals, gardens, onsite café and regular activities for school groups, Freightliners is a space for members of the community to connect to nature.
PUNL’s workshop covered the fundamentals of how solar systems work: how they convert energy from the sun into electricity; the key terms we use when talking about solar systems; how to monitor the performance of a PV system; and how to calculate carbon savings. PUNL’s staff also used small devices to demonstrate just how powerful solar energy can be: one small solar panel can be used to charge a mobile phone or power 4 LED lights.
At Freightliners City Farm there are 96 solar PV panels, together with an electronic display that shows total electricity generated to date, current generation, and carbon savings – which are equivalent to planting 100 trees each year. Thanks to a system recently installed by solar energy experts Joju Solar, Freightliners’ solar system can also be monitored remotely through a live link. 67% of the electricity produced by the panels is consumed onsite and the other 33% is exported back to the grid. The farm is also looking to install a battery, which would enable them to store surplus solar electricity and power appliances at night.
After a tour of the infrastructure itself, PUNL’s workshop finished with a Solar Quiz that revisited the materials we had covered, with some bonus questions thrown in. Participants were highly engaged, asking questions about how to monitor the performance data, how a battery would improve the system, and whether the farm could install more solar panels.
With Joju Solar conducting ongoing monitoring and upkeep of Freightliner’s solar system, solar energy can continue to provide financial and carbon savings for this much-loved community space.