Unique off-grid power puzzle puts Forres firm in national focus

Josh King

MORE NATIONAL AWARDS could be heading the way of Moray with solar energy system manufacturer AES Solar shortlisted for its work on the Scottish west coast.

The Forres firm has been shortlisted by the Solar Power Portal Awards in the ‘Residential Solar PV Contract’ category for its work in customising a construction that was in no way typical – a unique project that called for an off-grid PV/thermal system.

“This was a fantastic project to work on in an absolutely stunning location,” Josh King, AES Solar’s operations manager explained. He continued: “It is a fine example of how a residential installation can be adapted to suit specific environmental conditions and requirements, and meet a detailed customer specification.

“Access was a challenge and there is no nearby connection to the National Grid, so the solar PV system that we worked on has been designed to be completely self-sufficient in the summer months – battery power and diesel generation provides backup when required.”

The panels installed in the project have double the power output when compared to conventional PV Panels, Josh explained, adding: “ The configuration required careful consideration and bespoke design. We had to design a way to safely feed the panels into the battery without impacting on performance. It was a challenge but that is what we like at AES.”

Unique consideration had to be given to the local environment: “The north-west Highlands has highest average wind speeds in the UK. Throughout this project we had to come up with new ways to get around all of these challenges – and we have successfully been able to do that meaning the customer has a very slick, productive system.

“Overall, this project is a superb example of AES Solar’s ability to work closely with other contractors on projects which have custom requirements. We could never have achieved this without the cooperation of the architect, HaysomWardMiller, and solar panel manufacturer, Viridian Solar.

“AES Solar were able to provide the skills and expertise required to make this off-grid system a reality. The connection to the battery system and integration with the solar thermal system were key elements of the specification, and required considerable planning to ensure smoothness of operation and efficiency.”

George Goudsmit, managing director of the independent firm said: “This latest nomination illustrates the forward thinking of AES Solar with regard to harnessing the use of solar in challenging circumstances.

“This was fascinating to work on and we are delighted that the intricacies of the installation are recognised.”

AES Solar has been involved in a number of landmark projects such as the first ever domestic Solar PV/Thermal roof installation in the UK in 1995, and more recently has carried out work on a project on the Royal Estate at Balmoral.