The public sector and community spaces serve as natural showcases for solar energy, benefiting both communities and the wider environment.

Entries for this category were incredibly strong, creating a real challenge for the judges to settle on the shortlisted projects. Ranging from colleges to churches and railway stations, the sheer breadth of solar projects make for a perfect showcase of solar’s flexibility.

Commenting on the strength of the shortlisted projects, Olivier Jacques, EMEA managing director, Enphase Energy said: “We are delighted to see the public sector paving the way for wider solar adoption in the UK. Whether it integrates into a historical based urban landscape or educates our children on sustainable energy sources at their primary schools, it clearly pushes solar systems to be safer, smarter and more productive. At Enphase Energy, we provide a completely networked solar system based on leading Microinverter technology able to embrace those challenges like no one before”.

Blackfriars Bridge, Solarcentury, Panasonic

The Victorian bridge, built in 1886, has been updated for the 21st century with the addition of more than 6,000m2 of solar PV panels. Producing half of the station’s needs, the solar array will be the biggest in London.

The 1.103MW array is expected to generate around 900,000kWh per year, reducing CO2 emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes per year. The project’s location and visibility makes it an important showcase for the potential of solar in urban areas, and an important benchmark for Network Rail as it looks to cut carbon emissions.

Brixton Energy, Repowering South London, Southern Solar

The UK’s first inner-city, cooperatively-owned renewable energy project on a social housing estate, Brixton Energy Solar 1 saw 37.24kWp of solar installed on the roof of Elmore House on the Loughborough Estate in Brixton. All the capital cost of the solar installation was raised through a community share offer which attracted over 100 investors, raising £58,000 in less than a month.

Brixton Energy Solar 2 saw the installation of 45kWp on the roofs of Styles Garden, also in the Loughborough Estate and Brixton Energy Solar 3 is currently underway with 52.5kWp split across various buildings in the Roupell Park Estate.

John Ferneley College, Myriad Solar PV

John Ferneley College’s new Enrichment Centre was designed to be a comfortable, safe and environmentally friendly place for students to learn and develop. With the aim of zero-cost heating and electricity, a number of renewable energy technologies were incorporated including solar PV.

The first stage has seen a 50kWp array installed, with another 100kWp expected next year. To help students visualise the contribution of solar energy, a display has been fitted in the reception showing total and daily output.

Nayland primary school, Rexel UK

With funding limited, a community share initiative was launched in the local community to help Nayland primary school install a solar array. The 15kWp array has already saved the school over £1,000 and helped slash eight tonnes of CO2 off its carbon print.

The solar panels are used as an important teaching resource to help educate the children on the importance of renewables. This was recognised by Eco-Schools after the school was awarded a Green Flag award.

The Melbourne Parish Church of St. Michael with St. Mary, Mainline Energy

After overcoming significant challenges, the Melbourne Parish Church of St Michael with St Mary achieved both planning permission and Diocesan approval to install solar panels on the south aisle and south nave roofs.

Structurally, the project faced a number of difficulties including, access to the two tiers of the roof, integration of cables from the array into the stonework and woodwork; and how to develop a fixing kit that did not compromise the integrity of the lead roof.

The 10kWp array will not only provide the church with electricity but is also connected to the local school so it could incorporate the local installation into their teaching programme. The solar projects successfully moved the church into the 21st century without impacting its unique beauty and heritage.

Enphase Energy, sponsors of the Best community or public sector installation, will be exhibiting at stand D30 at Solar Energy UK.