Providing a much-needed boost to the UK solar industry, SKYShades, the lightweight, thin-film flexible solar power roofing company, is sponsoring The SKYShades Garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. As part of its official launch at the world-renowned exhibition, the company will be showcasing the world’s first retractable photovoltaic awning.

The SKYShades Garden – Powered by Light is a concept garden with a strong environmental message. It is a home working office in a peaceful bio-diverse setting designed by Marney Hall, an ecologist by training who has become well known for her eco-friendly designs.

The roof of the home office will be installed with SKYShades’ flexible, lightweight solar film, with planting radiating down in between the solar film panels for visual effect without compromising electricity output. The estimated annual power output of the home office would be 10-15% of the requirements for a typical home. The 3kW awning has all the advantages of a conventional canopy, as well as generating solar energy and providing a guaranteed revenue stream from the UK feed-in tariff.

“I believe the awning to be a genuine innovative clean power solution. It can be installed in locations which are unsuitable for traditional photovoltaic systems, due to either space or aesthetic reasons or where practical shade is required. We see it as ideal for businesses such as hotels and shops and it will pay for itself and guarantee a financial return,” said Dr. Robert Carpenter, Managing Director of SKYShades.










Image: The SKYShades Garden – Powered by Light, RHS

The garden is set around the concept of a log cabin, and was designed by Philip Game. Intended to function as a home working office, the building will be entirely powered by the solar system featured on the rooftop. The main construction of the building consists of logs straight from a sustainable forest located in Bedfordshire. The flexible, lightweight solar film is bonded onto a tensile fabric for roofing.

“We want to demonstrate that renewable solar energy is not reliant on heavy glass panels. Using flexible, lightweight film you can harness solar power even with a fragile or awkward shaped roof and use it to make designs pleasing to the eye. In real terms the estimated annual power output would be 10-15% of the requirements for a typical home enabling the studio to be self-sufficient,” said Marney.

“Given the increasing cost of travel, the need to reduce our carbon footprint and technological advances in communications, home working is becoming a real alternative for thousands of workers. I hope this garden will inspire visitors looking to take positive steps in protecting our plant,” she concludes.