Dixon Clark Court

Solar PV and microgrid • Feasibility • Pending input from Islington Council’s Housing team (August 2020)

About

Dixon Clark Court (DCC) is a 15-storey block of 60 flats, located near Highbury Corner in Islington with the Council as the freeholder. DCC is managed by a Tenant Management Organisation and has 42 flats with council tenants and 18 that are privately leased. The purpose of this project was to enable the residents of Dixon Clark Court to reduce their energy costs and contribute to carbon reduction in Islington by switching some of their consumption to PV solar. The project had three deliverables:

  • Design and installation of a solar PV array of sufficient size to supply the communal areas at DCC
  • Delivery of an Energy Audit to identify ways of increasing the energy efficiency of the building. 
  • The design and delivery, if technically possible and approved by residents, of a private wire solution so that residents could benefit from lower electricity prices.  This would be achieved by the allocation of any surplus solar electricity not used by the communal areas to individual flats and also by the ability of the TMO to negotiate better prices with grid suppliers by doing a bulk contract for residents on the microgrid. 

Funding & delivery

In late August 2019 PUNL made a successful application to the Islington Community Energy Fund for a grant to undertake all three phases of work. The ICEF Committee were very interested in the microgrid solution as a prototype for other Islington sites and allocated the full amount of £29,080, to cover feasibility and the capital costs for purchase of the panels.

PUNL undertook a roof survey and established that the site was suitable for a c. 12kWpsolar array generating 9MWh a year. They also commissioned Joju Solar to design the microgrid and worked with a researcher from University College London to engage residents on the implications of the solar PV and microgrid for the use of solar electricity at DCC.  

PUNL delivered a full feasibility report including a financial model with options for use of the income generated from sale of the solar electricity. The feasibility established that with the limited roof space the electricity generated would be more than sufficient to serve the communal areas but not all residents. There were a number of options for using the surplus including supplying it to Vodafone who have a sub-station on the roof or supplying a subset of residents through a microgrid. Potentially a battery can be installed to optimise use of the solar electricity not used by the communal areas. Regardless of the combination selected the objective is to maximise the financial benefit from sale of the solar electricity in the interests of all residents.  

XCO2, a local environmental engineering practice carried out the energy efficiency review of a selection of residents’ flats and concluded that they were already very well managed from a ventilation and insulation perspective. They recommended that given the need to retrofit homes for renewable heat solutions, there was scope to look at low carbon communal heating systems for the building, for instance, ground or air source heat pumps.

Benefits & impact

Installation of the solar PV system will deliver carbon and operating cost savings for DCC and an opportunity to directly support residents in fuel poverty. The solar electricity would be fed to the communal areas and potentially also directly to residents on the microgrid and to Vodafone who have a mobile mast on the roof. Annual savings could be between £500 and £700 depending on the price obtained from the various contracts. Carbon savings would be 2.6 tonnes a year and the TMO could create a small fund to support residents in fuel poverty.

Project deliverables

November/December 2019Solar PV feasibility
December 2019XCO2 energy efficiency walk around and report
January & February 2020Engagement meetings with TMO around solar PV and microgrid
January – April 2020Microgrid technical feasibility by Joju solar and PUNL
May 2020Development of microgrid options and report on phases 1 & 2
OngoingFollow-ups with Islington Housing to progress roof lease with TMO prior to solar PV installation