New design guide will help solar panels shine

Get them right, and they can be an attractive part of your home and lower your electricity bills. That’s the message about solar panels from CPRE and a leading building science centre, who have teamed up to prevent common design pitfalls.

The new guide and summary leaflet on solar design, today published by CPRE and BRE National Solar Centre, show how solar panels on buildings can look good whatever the structure or surrounding landscape [1,2].


Among the various design principles, we advocates the use of panels that match the size and shape of existing roof tiles. We sugges installing panels symmetrically or ensuring that panels fully cover the roof. Aimed at property owners, designers and installers, the guide and leaflet also illustrate how the sun is already helping to power an incredible range of the nation’s buildings – from homes and listed churches to greenhouses and office blocks.

With millions of viewers tuning in to programmes such as Grand Designs each week, there is a clear appetite for innovative design, and 800,000 home solar panel systems have already been installed in the UK [3].

New technologies are reducing the cost of solar panels, despite Government cuts to solar subsidies. The publication of the guide has therefore come at a very useful time to showcase solar developments that protect the countryside.

Kim Hagen, senior energy campaigner at CPRE, comments:

“Whether you’re installing solar on a historic country house or a simple garden shed, it’s no longer difficult to make your building look great. It can be as simple as positioning the panels to reflect the structure of your roof. Or you might want to consider using technologies to generate electricity from glass in windows.

“Combining simple principles with inspiring case studies, this guide shows how solar can fit in well with our towns, villages and countryside while helping provide some of the energy we need.”

[1] The guide: BRE and CPRE, Ensuring place responsive design for solar photovoltaics on buildings, October 2016.

The leaflet: CPRE, Solar Design: your 10-point guide, October 2016.

[2] The BRE National Solar Centre was established in 2012 to provide independent, evidence-based advice on solar energy systems and related topics.

[3] Ofgem, Feed-in Tariff Installation Report, 31 March 2016.

October 4th 2016

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