W2LP7 – Technical and policy challenges of wide-scale integration of PV systems into UK homes
23rd October 2015 Joynal Abedin

Technical and policy challenges of wide-scale integration of PV systems into UK homes

Joynal Abedin, Loughborough University


Joynal Abedin talks about this project:




Dr. S. K. Firth (Loughborough University)


Explore the policy options and their implications on wide-scale integration of PV micro-generation systems into UK homes, paying particular attention to the Feed-in-Tariff and other incentive schemes offered by the government.
Explore the relationship between electricity demand of typical UK homes and the electricity generated by PV systems, based on real experimental data, and the challenges in matching the supply with the demand.
Explore the suitability of PV micro-generation technology for the domestic sector taking into account its performance, cost and environmental impact.

Analyse the economical impact of installing domestic PV systems in light of current policies and legislations and how that would change with forthcoming policy drivers such as FIT and Green Deal.
Analyse the electrical energy demand and consumption habits of occupants and how it changes with variations in the UK weather patterns.
Assess the technical capability and cost effectiveness of generating electricity using domestic PV systems given the varying UK weather patterns and how this affects its ability to satisfy demand.
Assess how the daily electricity demand profile can be adjusted to obtain a better match with the daily supply profile.
Investigate the extent to which resizing the existing installed systems and/or replacing them with new and/or more efficient components can better match the demand.
Justification for the Research:

The outcome of this research project would demonstrate the suitability of PV for wide-scale integration into UK dwellings. It will add to knowledge, based on high resolution experimental data, on the PV systems ability to satisfy electricity demand, given the weather variation in the UK and the energy consumption behaviour of the occupants.

This work will also provoke further research interests in the following areas:

Whether and how other micro-generation technologies can be amalgamated with domestic solar PV systems to achieve a better match between the real-time energy demand profiles and the energy generated.
Whether and what form of ‘short term’ energy storage solutions can help improve the match between the energy demand and supply.
Use the output of this study and the data to create a model that can make predictions for all UK locations, weather and domestic energy consumption behaviour scenarios.

The Climate Change Act 2008 sets legally binding targets for the UK to reduce the CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 and 34% by 2020, against a 1990 baseline. Also, 15% of the primary energy will need to be generated by renewable sources by 2020. This translates to generating approximately 30% of the UK electricity from renewable sources. Major effort will be needed in all areas of energy demand, supply and policy drive if these goals are to be met. Solar power is an energy source that has the potential to contribute towards meeting both of these obligations.

The Building Energy Research Group (BERG) at Loughborough University has been monitoring the long-term performance of a large number of grid-connected domestic solar Photovoltaic (PV) systems over the past 8 years. They were installed in five clusters throughout the UK, from 2002 to 2004, as part of the UK Government’s Domestic Field Trial (DFT). Figure 1 illustrates dwellings installed with the PV systems during the DFT.
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Figure 1. Pictures of dwelling installed with solar PV as part of the DFT.

The electricity generated by the PV systems and the corresponding levels of solar radiation has been recorded in five minutes intervals. The total amounted of electricity exported and/or imported, to and from the grid, was also recoded. This data can be used to;

assess the effectiveness of domestic PV systems in generating electrical energy given the weather patterns of the UK
assess the extent to which the energy generated could be used, in real time, to offset the demand for electrical energy.
explore and clarify misconceptions that exist regarding the cost effectiveness of using PV systems in the UK based on real experimental data.
Figure 2 shows the average five minutely electricity consumption and generation profile of 18 homes connected with grid tied PV systems, for the month of July 2009. It shows that PV generates more energy during the period when there is moderate demand, and less or no energy when the demand is at its highest.


Figure 2. Average electricity demand and PV generation profiles.

Given this discrepancy, and other undesirable factors such as high capital cost, this research project focuses on establishing the suitability of PV systems for wide-scale integration into UK homes, in the light of long term high resolution experimental data. The study also explores the renewable energy policy instruments such as Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) needed, and being proposed by the government, to increase uptake of the technology.


The methodology to be adopted in this research programme is based on a combination of the following tasks:

Carry out literature reviews.
Analysis & assessment of government legislations and their effects on the uptake of domestic solar technology by consumers and industry.
Gathering data by means of a questionnaire which would shed light on the domestic appliance use patterns, behaviour and to what extent this could be controlled.
Empirical based analysis, assessment and manipulation of data to:
Create average electrical energy consumption and generation profiles for the different dwellings using the experimental data and establish the extent of the correlation between the two.
Create a simple empirical model of the electricity consumed which could be used to estimate the variation in the consumption profile as the operation of different categories of domestic appliances are varied in time, and whether this could improve the match between the demand and consumption profiles.

Anticipated outcomes

Review of the research work carried out to date on the chosen subject by other researchers.
Investigative report on the UK’s existing and forthcoming policies affecting the utilisation of solar PV systems in the domestic sector and the likely impact on the uptake of the technology by the relevant parties.
Production of daily average electrical energy consumption and generation profiles within domestic environment. Analysis report of how the two match, shortfalls between the profiles and what could be done to improve the match.
Creation of a simple empirical model of electricity consumption within domestic environment based on experimental data.
Drawing of conclusions from the research and developing recommendations for further study based on the conclusions.

Resources / source(s) of Data

Primary source of experimental data is BERG Loughborough University. Other relevant information shall be obtained from published papers, articles, thesis and dissertations, by means of downloading through Athens from the following sources:

University repository
Google scholar
World wide web
Engineering Village (Compendex®, Engineering Index Backfile, Inspec®, Inspec Archive, NTIS, Referex, Patents from USPTO and esp@cenet , Ei Patents, EnCompassLIT, EnCompassPAT, GEOBASE, Chimica , CBNB, PaperChem, GeoRef, SciVerse, ScienceDirect
CIBSE/BSRIA design guides etc.

Useful References

There are numerous papers published in the areas covered by the research project as detailed below.

Solar Energy

R Kannan, K Leong, R Osman, H Ho, and C Tso, “Life cycle assessment study of solar PV systems: An example of a 2.7kWp distributed solar PV system in Singapore,” Solar Energy, 80 (2006), 555-563.


L.M. Ayompe, a. Duffy, S.J. McCormack, and M. Conlon, “Projected costs of a grid-connected domestic PV system under different scenarios in Ireland, using measured data from a trial installation,” Energy Policy, Elsevier, 38 (2010), 3731-3743.

P Denholm and R Margolis, “Evaluating the limits of solar photovoltaics (PV) in traditional electric power systems,” Energy Policy, 35 (2007), 2852-2861.

Characterising temporal electricity demand in houses

I Richardson, M Thomson, and D Infield, “A high-resolution domestic building occupancy model for energy demand simulations,” Energy and Buildings, 40 (2008), 1560-1566.

Firth SK, Lomas KJ, Wright A and Wall R, Identifying trends in the use of domestic appliances from household electricity consumption measurements, Energy and Buildings 40, 2008, 926-936

Built Environment De-carbonization & Modelling

Runming Yao, Koen Steemers: A method of formulating energy load profile for domestic buildings in the UK Original Research Article, Energy and Buildings, Volume 37, Issue 6, June 2005, Pages 663-671,

Lomas, K. J.(2010) ‘Carbon reduction in existing buildings: a transdisciplinary approach’, Building, Research & Information, 38: 1, 1 — 11

Lowe, Robert(2007) ‘Technical options and strategies for decarbonizing UK housing’, Building Research & Information, 35: 4, 412 — 425

M. Martiskainen, ‘Affecting consumer behaviour on energy demand’, Final report to EdF Energy, 2007.

Social and Behavioural

Bill Randolph and Patrick Troy, “Energy Consumption and the Built Environment : A Social and Behavioural Analysis and Patrick Troy A Social and Behavioural Analysis,” Futures.

J Andrade, “The uses of energy in the domestic sector,” Energy and Buildings, 33 (2001), 525-529.

Project Team

Joynal Abedin
Steven Firth


Conference poster

International LCEDN Conference 2012

Poster presented at the international conference on Low Carbon Energy Development network – Loughborough University.

Lo-Lo Annual Colloquium 2011

Poster presenting the results of the MRes research project on Challenges and impacts of a wide-scale adaptation of PV systems into UK homes.



MRes Dissertation

Dissertation presenting the research on the real PV system performance and energy consumption of 18 households. The output of the PV systems and how well it matched the energy demand were analysed. The energy output used onsite was compared with the energy exported to the grid. The impact of incentives such as the Feed-in-Tariff and its likely effect on uptake were analysed.