Portable Solar Panels Put To Test On Flat Holm Island

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Flat Holm Island (Photo Credit: Cardiff Council CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Flat Holm, a small limestone island in Britain’s Bristol Channel, has no permanent residents and minimal infrastructure. The area’s low energy needs have therefore been fulfilled using old-fashioned solar panels and a diesel generator. The picturesque landmass is now, however, becoming increasingly popular with tourists wishing to explore the rural landscape and view the island’s seabird colonies.

Though this is welcome news, meeting the island’s growing energy needs without ruining its pristine environment poses a challenge. Flat Holm team leader Natalie Taylor says, "As we promote the island more and we get more visitors here, there's going to be a lot more demand for electricity so it's really important that we've got a really high functioning system that can provide for those people. From an environmental point of view, we want to reduce the use of diesel generators so that we can have as small an ecological footprint as possible."

Photo Credit: Renovagen

While the Cardiff Council, which oversees the island, considered traditional solar and hydroelectricity, it was reluctant to implement either, due to their high cost and permanent nature. According to energy and sustainability manager Gareth Harcombe, the officials were seeking a portable option that could be moved if the site was needed for another purpose.

Fortunately UK-based startup Renovagen had the perfect solution. The company’s Rapid Roll Solar PV system comprises flexible solar panels that can be unrolled like a carpet from a trailer and instantly put to work. According to the company, a small panel can provide 11kW of power within two minutes. A more extensive version, unrolled from a shipping container, can yield 300kW of electricity in less than an hour.

The technology is the brainchild of Renovagen’s Managing Director John Hingley, who came up with the idea after seeing a similar concept used as a backup battery for mobile devices about five years ago. In addition to being easy to deploy, the rollable panels are also more cost-effective to transport. Hingley says, “Compared with traditional rigid panels, we can fit up to 10 times the power in this size container."

Photo Credit: Renovagen

The solar panel “carpets,” laid on the island in early October, are being used to provide electricity to its sole pub and lighthouse. The Cardiff Council also plans on using them to charge two Nissan e-NV200 electric vehicles in the future.

In addition to providing power to remote islands like Flat Holm, Hingley hopes the Rapid Roll technology will be useful in areas affected by natural disasters. A good example is Puerto Rico, where most residents have been without electricity since Hurricane Maria destroyed the power lines in late September.

Resources: cardiffnewsroom.com,bbc.com,newatlas.com

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  1. Where is Flat Holm Island located?
  2. How many residents does the island have?

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How would the Rapid Roll Solar PV system be useful in the Arctic...


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While the Cardiff Council, which oversees the island, considered traditional solar and hydroelectricity, it was reluctant to implement either, due to their high...

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  • Genius Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 6:45 am
    • noodlesThursday, January 4, 2018 at 7:42 am
      that was cool #satasfying
      • The PotatoTuesday, January 2, 2018 at 1:22 pm
        SO COOL. I will do my current event on this. I learned so much. # Flat Holms
        • KalyeThursday, December 28, 2017 at 6:59 pm
          It helps us learn everything about the solar system and the panels plus where we get our power from it’s so interesting to watch
          • LMonday, December 18, 2017 at 8:17 am
            It is cool Es increíble
            • NONAMEGAMERFriday, December 15, 2017 at 7:05 am
              that was soooooo satisfying to watch
              • savgesThursday, December 14, 2017 at 8:39 am
                i agreee with all of you who says its awesome
                • lonzoTuesday, December 12, 2017 at 10:26 am
                  dis is lit
                  • not_cooper_p
                    not_cooper_pTuesday, December 12, 2017 at 8:10 am
                    SKrrrrrrrrrt I agree lmao this is soooooooo cool
                    • markiplerThursday, December 7, 2017 at 9:51 am
                      wo just...wow