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...

202 Comments
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  • EmilyThursday, November 16, 2017 at 7:18 pm
    this is very interresting news this has helped me understand how other places has problems that needs thiing to make it better.
    • Name Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 2:00 pm
      This is a really good solution to loots of problems.
      • jeffbobjeffbob
        jeffbobjeffbobThursday, November 16, 2017 at 1:13 pm
        Okay its intrestng
        • chabra
          chabraThursday, November 16, 2017 at 11:00 am
          awesome
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            chabraThursday, November 16, 2017 at 11:00 am
            sick
            • chabra
              chabraThursday, November 16, 2017 at 11:00 am
              awesome really cool
              • chabra
                chabraThursday, November 16, 2017 at 11:00 am
                really cool awesome
                • chabra
                  chabraThursday, November 16, 2017 at 10:57 am
                  awesome
                  • chabra
                    chabraThursday, November 16, 2017 at 10:56 am
                    it looks awesome
                    • chabra
                      chabraThursday, November 16, 2017 at 10:48 am
                      impressive