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Historically most of the PV systems installed have been one offs rather then groups of systems in new urban developments. However sustainability is becoming a more important issue for the construction industry and photovoltaics are a key technology with the potential to generate electricity in urban areas. If photovoltaics are to make a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions from buildings they will need to be installed on a larger scale than at present.

Compared to one-off buildings installing large groups of systems can present new challenges. Many of the problems are due to the fact that there is a very limited amount of experience with PV in the wider urban planning, development, construction and electricity generation sectors. Administrative and regulatory systems are not yet well adapted for groups of small distributed generators. The technology itself causes very few problems and involved professionals have commented that it is surprisingly simple to deal with once the fundamentals are understood.

Photovoltaic systems are unlike many other technologies included in buildings in that they are best taken into consideration right from the beginning. Advice from a specialist with solar experience can enhance the feasibility of installing PV and optimize the cost and performance of the PV. As experience is gained across the industry, and understanding of PV and its implications for site layout and planning become a standard part of planners’ and developers’ repertoires the process will become easier.

PV-UPSCALE has looked at number of the projects where photovoltaics have been installed at a larger urban scale, either as part of new developments or retro-fitted to multiple buildings within an urban area. In this section we look at the lessons learnt and problems encountered implementing these projects.

The first challenge is to get solar access considered in the initial planning of the urban layout. After this comes the challenge of including PV in detailed design and construction.

See the following sections on:
Urban planning and solar access
Requirements for Successful Implementation

Note this website does not provide design advice for individual PV systems. Good design advice for systems is already available from many other publications; see the links section of the web-site for details.

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