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Fairfield Housing Co-op, Perth

Exploring the potential of a PV facility at Fairfield Housing Co-op


This case study explores Fairfield Housing Co-op's efforts to determine the best location of PV panels using various analysis techniques; it then considers the suitability and payback period of installation and use.

It makes comparisons to that of Edinburgh Napier University and their installation of a larger array.


In an effort to reduce energy consumption and impact on the environment, in October 2011 the company Fairfield Housing Co-op applied for the approval for installation of a 10kWh PV array.

During investigation the company had to establish a grounding point for the PV panels, which took into consideration shadow and shade analysis, and in turn considered optimal solar intake.

Once granted permission, two Scottish higher education institutions were re-engaged to complete the analysis and exploration of the task. (Edinburgh Napier University and The Glasgow School Of Art)

The two institutions deduced that, after analysis of three buildings, the 'green' building had the optimal conditions for the photovoltaics. These conditions were the following:

  • The roof faced 10-degrees west of south
  • The roof slope was the optimally desired value of 45-degrees
  • The roof had only one central (short) chimney.



Initially various shade/shadow analysis were taken out at four stages of the year (seen below in Figure 1, 2, 3 and 4). This multi seasonal analysis was considering equinoctial movement to identify where to position the photovoltaics for optimal gain.

Figure 1 (June 21st)

 FairField: June 21st Image

Figure 2 (September 21st)

 Fairfield:September 21st

Figure 3 (December 21st)

 fARDecember 21st

Figure 4 (March 21st)

 March 21st

Following the shade analysis stage, the case study then considers the three structures (see above) individually. 

Through further analysis it follows on by implying the middle 'green' structure is the most efficient with regards to shading and shadow and determines that hourly analysis is imperative to determine placement of the PV cells. This analysis can be seen in the full case study.


Under guidance from a local supplier the company chooses to install the "SCHOTT Preform" panel. The study concludes that, if optimal conditions are met, they will gain a financial return in 7 years. 

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