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Loughborough academics support research into the viability of solar energy

Rodbourne Rail Solar Park, Corston, Wiltshire. Image: Robert Peel.

Academics at Loughborough University are embarking on a million pound research project into the potential costs and benefits of solar energy in the UK.

Professor Ralph Gottschalg, Dr Paul Rowley and Dr Tom Betts at the University’s Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST), alongside academics from Imperial College London, will collaborate with aerial mapping company Bluesky on the ‘PV2025’ project.

The project aims to answer a number of questions relating to the production of energy through solar panel electricity systems, known as photovoltaics or PV, and how geography, legislation and social factors might impact on the costs and benefits to the country.

The project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and led by CREST. Other project partners include E.ON and SMA Solar UK Ltd.

Dr Paul Rowley, Senior Lecturer in Renewable Energy Systems, from Loughborough University commented:

“We are delighted to be supporting this significant national project that will improve understanding of solar energy in the UK.

“Working with Bluesky will be critical as they bring a wealth of experience and expertise to this project having launched the first maps of solar potential back in 2010.

“Not only do Bluesky have access to nationwide geographical datasets that are essential to some of the work packages included within this project, they also have the knowledge and proficiency to apply them for maximum gain.”

Effective collaboration between the academic and industry project partners will be an important aspect of the project, with tools developed during the project being made available for general use.

James Eddy, Technical Director of Bluesky International added:

“Over an eighteen month period we assessed the solar potential of more than half a million properties working with energy companies, local authorities, housing associations as well as property owners and solar panel installers.

“We developed a unique method of generating solar potential maps using photogrammetric techniques to accurately measure and record factors that may contribute to the suitability for solar power and it this expertise that are bringing to the PV2025 project.”

The PV2025 project considers photovoltaic energy production in the national context looking at how PV systems of different sizes or regional differences in environmental conditions affect factors such as energy generation and the infrastructure required to effectively distribute this energy.

The PV2025 project is split into four work packages including analysis of impacts on the electricity network and detailed mapping of issues such as reductions in fuel poverty arising from PV.

The three year PV2025 project is funded by EPSRC, the UK’s main agency for supporting University research in engineering and the physical sciences.

EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 13/225

Imperial College London will be represented in the project by an academic team comprising Professor Bikash Pal, Dr Adam Hawkes and Dr Chiara Candelise

Bluesky is a UK-based specialist in aerial imaging and remote sensing data collection and processing.  An internationally recognised leader with projects extending around the globe, Bluesky is proud to work with prestigious organisations such as Google, the BBC and Government Agencies.

Bluesky has unrivalled expertise in the creation of seamless, digital aerial photography, 3D landscape/cityscape visualisations and prints and also runs a national mapping centre, providing digital mapping, satellite imagery and aerial photography including ultra-high resolution imagery of cities and towns.

Bluesky is now leading the way developing innovative solutions for environmental applications including the UK’s first nationwide map of solar potential, citywide ‘heat loss’ maps, 3D maps of trees and their proximity to buildings and historical imagery.

CREST was established in 1993, using funds made available by Professor Tony Marmont. The primary activity of the centre is to undertake research and education in renewable energy technology so as to provide substantial and benign energy options for present and future generations.

Today, CREST is firmly established as one of the leading international groups working in the field of renewable energy. The centre holds an excellent track record in research and education, with growing numbers of staff members and external contracts currently exceeding £1.5 million.

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year title in 2008-09 and has been named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.


Rob Knott
PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228686

Robert Peel
T: 01666 823306

PR team

Telephone: 01509 222224