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Academy Park, Leith, Edinburgh

Academy Park, Leith, Edinburgh

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Feasibility Study for Housing Association Homes


This case study examines the possibility of retrofitting solar PVs to an existing sheltered housing complex on Academy Park, Leith. Benefits of this low & zero carbon technology include reducing electricity costs for the tenants, tackling fuel poverty, whilst at the same time reducing the carbon dioxide emissions. 

This study investigated the potential for PV panels and assessed the following:

  • Location and type(s) of PV panels to maximise solar gain, including output and returns
  • Benefits of Feed-in Tariff in relation to provision of solar PVs
  • Restrictions on PV placement on buildings in conservation area
  • Changes to the government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme, and introduced stipulations


Technical scope of study

The property on Academy Park comprises a four storey building, housing 38, one bedroom flats, with communal facilities including lounge, kitchen and laundry. It was constructed in 1993. It is hoped that a PV installation could reduce the dependance on grid electricity.

The roof area suitable for PV panels is estimated to be 115m² with a tilt of 35º. The building is orientated 35° southwest. The gable end to the right of the image above will cast a shadow over the roof, therefore the PV panels should be located to avoid this.


The total annual energy consumption for Academy Park has been calculated from electricity bills: 138,000kWh/year at a cost of £11,840 per year


Cost Analysis

The cost analysis of the solar PV systems in this report takes into consideration and evaluates the following information: 

  • Capital cost of materials
  • Labour to install such panels
  • VAT on labour & materials
  • Yearly estimated maintenance fee
  • Estimated inverter replacement (once every 20 years)
  • Decrease in solar panel efficiency
  • Feed in Tariff rate and its yearly increase in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI)
  • Savings made on electricity bill, based upon electricity price per kWh and its estimated increase with inflation
  • Electricity export at £0.31/kWh (if applicable)

A full breakdown of energy and income generation, cost of systems, and carbon dioxide savings are detailed in feasibility report.


The analysis process included modelling a number of PV panel sizes and technologies along with inverter size options for the building. The modelling mechanism takes influence from the buildings orientation, roof tilt, size of available roof area and any shading that impacts upon the roof. Each PV and inverter option was simulated to obtain a yearly output of electricity and the number of panels required to achieve different output levels. The selection of the ‘best fit’ PV system was based upon the annual kilowatt/hour output to cost ratio.

For the Academy Park sheltered housing complex there were many PV systems designed and analysed. The table below shows three prefered options.

  Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
Solar Panel Technology Monocrystalline Polycrystalline Monocrystalline
Number of Modules 42 42 39
Power (wp) per Module 235 230 255
Total Power (kWp) 9.9 9.7 9.9
Number of Inverters 1 1 1
Size (kW) 8.0 8.0 8.0
Number of Strings 3 3 3
Produced Energy (kWh/y) 7,718 7,284 7,843
Specific Production (kWh/kWp/y) 782 754 789


Option 1 has an estimated cost of around £29,000 including tax and installation costs, with payback expected between year 12 or 13. In the 25 year FIT scheme, the installation could generate £51,700, plus savings on electricity bills of around £32,000.


One of the main drivers for making the investment for PV panels is the Feed in Tariff. Without this incentive for the production and export of energy, the pay back of such installations would rely only on the energy savings from the installation. It is for this reason that any changes to these tariffs can substantially affect any decision to invest in renewable technologies. This is further discussed in the report (downloadable on the right of this page).

PV systems are often sized or specified based on the amount of modelled or simulated energy required over the course of a year. It is important to appreciate that the PV system without a storage capacity i.e. batteries, will only generate power during daylight hours. Therefore, the calculation comparing the PV energy generation and the buildings energy demand should be granular enough to differentiate the day and night time energy demand profile.

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