Activ8 Supplier, Wuxi Suntech, Awarded "Top Brand PV" by EuPD Research In Germany

Our solar PV panel supplier, Wuxi Suntech has been awarded “Top Brand PV” seal from EuPD Research in Germany

Wuxi Suntech, Activ8 Solar Energies primary solar PV panel supplier has recently received high recognition for the quality of the product they provide. The quality of their components is precisely why we use their solar photovoltaic panels. It's also important to note that we have been using them more and more lately, as the Irish solar PV market continues to grow. The Irish solar thermal market continues to be much stronger on the domestic side of things, but commercially, businesses all over Ireland are beginning to invest heavily in solar PV.

According to the recommendation of PV installers and intermediaries in Germany and Holland, Suntech has become the first Chinese PV enterprise to win this honour. China is a key driver of solar photovoltaic technology and a powerhouse in the manufacturing of such. With the standards differing so much, it is important to note that Suntech's panels are Bloomberg Tier 1 standard, the highest possible standard and the only standard that we'll ever use here at Activ8.

EuPD Research Institute's latest “Top Brand PV” Award reflects only the highest quality of products within the global PV industry and it further strengthens our trust in and relationship with Wuxi Suntech, one of the largest clean energy companies in the world.

The independent TOP BRAND PV industry seal is based on an annual multi-level analysis of qualified statements in regards to brand perception, brand management and market penetration from installers and intermediaries based in Germany, the UK, Italy and the Netherlands. With this in mind, it is with great pleasure that as one of the largest solar companies in Ireland, we use Suntech products within our growing solar PV department.

EuPD Research is a neutral research institution which has won great reputation among European PV industry, so this reward represents a significant achievement for the Chinese brand in Europe. Last year, recognition showed to some of our other partners was also covered in our Solar News section and you can find the link for this by clicking here.
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Activ8 Solar Energies Exclusive Distribution Agreement with ESDEC BV

Esdec, a leader in innovative rooftop mounting systems for photovoltaic installations, entered into an exclusive distributor agreement with Activ8 Energies, based upon our solar experience here in Ireland and Northern Ireland over the last 13+ years. With this agreement, Esdec will further extend the availability of its patented ClickFit and FlatFix Fusion systems for rooftop PV installations into the Irish and Northern Irish market.

Irish Solar PV Market

Here at Activ8 Solar Energies, this is an exciting development, given the strong growth of the Irish solar PV market in line with commercial interest in the renewable technology alongside the installation of solar PV panels on new housing developments across Ireland. With our industry leading reputation, this is a great partnership for both ourselves and ESDEC.
The technology that ESDEC can bring to the Irish market, through Activ8 Solar Energies, includes both their ClickFit and FlatFix Fusion systems for rooftop PV installations. With this, the innovative patented designs, which are MCS approved, bring advantages such as:

  • No drilling of tiles
  • No drilling of truss
  • No need for noggins or bridging
  • Approved by major Irish tile manufacturers
  • Approved by major Irish truss manufacturers

Upon the completion of the distributor agreement, both companies looked forward to 2017 with excitement.

"The addition of Activ8 Energies as one of the pioneers of the young and fast growing Irish PV market adds valuable experience and capabilities to our sales network for Irish installation companies, dealing with a strongly increasing demand of PV installations for homeowners, business enterprises and public entities," said Christian Bongartz, Business Development Manager Europe at Esdec. “Working with an experienced and well-respected distributor like Activ8 Energies allows us to deliver our innovative mounting systems effectively into the Irish market, giving valuable support to architects and construction companies already during the design phase of their projects.”

“This development further cements our reputation for innovation within the Irish solar industry here at Activ8 Solar Energies” said Ciaran Marron, CEO Activ8 Solar Energies. “We’ve always believed that the best way to grow the Irish solar market here in Ireland was to offer our customers the very best products and services. With this partnership, we’ve further improved our Solar PV offering to developers, businesses and homeowners and once again, made the solar installation process more efficient”.

About Esdec

Esdec BV is a leading Dutch manufacturer of professional and innovative solar panel mounting systems called ClickFit and FlatFix. Both ClickFit and FlatFix are fast and easy to install, are durable and are sold with a unique 20 year warranty. Their products have been extensively tested by recognized testing institutes, such as DNW (wind tunnel), BRE, and are, amongst others, certified according to the Dutch Building Decree and the MCS012 by NQA. Since the establishment of Esdec BV in 2004, more than four million solar panels with a combined capacity of > 1GWp have been installed on ClickFit and FlatFix systems.

For more information, visit www.esdec.com

Visit our Solar PV section for more information, or depending on your needs, visit our new wholesale section either.


Increase In Energy Use In 2015 But Increase In Renewable Energy Too

The official body for sustainable and renewable energy here in Ireland, the SEAI, released their official national energy statistics on November 23rd. The report shows that there had been significant growth in energy use across almost all sectors of the Irish economy in 2015. Energy in Ireland 1990-2015, illustrates the first significant growth in energy use since 2010 at almost 5%. In line with this figure, energy-related CO2 emmissions increased by 6%. Both of these figures are understandably put in the context of strong economic growth in 2015 within the report.

Greenhouse Gas Emmissions

When looking at greenhouse gas emmissions, energy accounts for about 60% of the total. This puts a greater emphasis on the importance of developing low-carbon solutions in this industry for Ireland. Here at Activ8 Solar Energies, we’re obviously already providing this in terms of solar thermal and also solar PV, but we’ll continue to look at developing technologies and how we can help Irish homes make improvements in energy efficiency.

Renewables

Over 9% of Ireland’s energy use came from renewable energy souces, which is great. But we’re still quite a bit off our 16% target which needs to be reached by 2020. Looking at the 9% figure however, this has resulted in almost 4 million tonnes of CO2 being avoided as well a cut-down in over €400m of energy imports.

When it comes to electricity alone, over a quarter of our electricity needs were provided through renewable energy including wind, hydro, landfill gas and bioenergy – with our solar electricity levels at a very low level in comparison to countries with similar climates and circumstances to us. There is optimism that this will grow significantly in the next couple of years. In addition, renewables contributed 5.7% to energy use in transport and 6.5% in the heating sector.

On the SEAI website, Jim Gannon, SEAI Chief Executive said:
“The publication of these energy figures is a timely and pertinent analysis of Ireland’s energy usage following the conclusion of COP22 in Marrakech last week and Ireland’s ratification of the Paris Agreement earlier in November. We are seeing good progress on renewable energy and energy efficiency, however, this needs to be further accelerated to keep pace with higher economic activity and demand for energy. The Government is already responding to this challenge with significant increased funding committed to energy efficiency and renewable heat in Budget 2017. This allows us to build on the progress to date and continue to decarbonise our energy system which will reduce costs, improve energy security and reduce environmental impact.”
Jim Gannon continued: “In 2015 the average household emitted 5.5 tonnes of CO2of which 61% came from direct fuel use in the home and the remainder from electricity use. The transition to a sustainable, low-carbon energy system requires the participation of citizens and communities in both decision-making and action. It is vital that we have an informed debate about the choices for Ireland as we move to a low-carbon economy. SEAI is committed to the provision of timely, robust and transparent data to ensure that policy development, decision-making and our energy transition is based on high quality data and evidence.”


Solar PV 56 kWp System Installed in Courtown Co. Wexford

One of our most recent installations, a 197 solar PV panel installation in Courtown, Co. Wexford is an indication of where the future of energy is heading here in Ireland. Solar panel installation continues to grow and the expected production of our system at Courtown Leisure Centre can act as a case in point of how commercially viable solar photovoltaic has become for Irish businesses looking to consolidate their future expenses when it comes to electricity and energy. You can watch the production of this system at the bottom of this post.

The Solar PV Process

After a successful tender for the contract on the Courtown Leisure Centre, we worked through the half hourly readings and along with CKEA (Carlow Kilkenny Energy Agency) to optimise the size and set up of this heavy consumer of electricity.

The leisure centre themselves had already taken numerous progressive steps to reduce their consumption over the past year, shaving their peak consumption from an average of 93kVA right down to 71kVA. Not happy to sit on their laurels, they pushed on to apply for an SEAI grant for the installation of a solar electric system and with the help of CKEA they were successful in their bid.

Solar PV Specification

With this 56kWp solar PV system, Courtown will reduce their energy consumption by over 40,000kWhr’s (units of electricity) on a yearly basis. Due to the utilisation of Enphase Micro Inverters on this job, this system is guaranteed to continue production of electricity for at least 20 years, which leaves the leisure centre with the peace of mind that they have locked in the cost of approx. 800,000kWhr’s. So no matter what price electricity goes to over the next 20 years, Courtown Leisure Centre have secured approximately 40,000units of electricity per year, for the next twenty years at approximately 5cents.

In the short 18 days of October, the system has generated as much to offset the planting of 38 trees. To put that into perspective on a yearly basis, the installation of this solar system is equal to planting over 800 trees per year, for the next 20 years. Truly cementing Courtown Leisure Centre as one of the greenest and environmentally conscious in Ireland and a solar PV champion.

The installation consisted of 197 solar panels (generating DC electricity), and 197 micro inverters (converting DC to AC electricity) all mounted on a standing seam mounting system. The installation took 4 days, with the majority of the heavy lifting completed in just 2 days. With Solar PV looking to become a larger part of the Irish lexicon over the next five years, it really is great to see SEAI supporting such a system and CKEA helping a forward thinking business such as Courtown Leisure Centre become early adopters to what is sure to become the future of energy in Ireland.

Live Enphase Monitoring

When we had a look at the live monitoring of the system through Activ8 Energies and Enphase. For anyone not familiar with the equivalent units of electricity produced, look at the handy infographics provided. As an example, the 194kWh produced on Sunday October 2nd is the equivalent of the power produced by 64,689 AA batteries.


Using Recent UK Renewable Developments as an Irish Solar Case Study

Using the UK as a Case Study for Irish Renewables

Although we may not agree with everything that is done across the Irish Sea, we have to admire the UK's commitment to renewable energy production. Through our sister company, Solar NI, we have been able to play a small part in the recently released figures that showed renewable energy accounting for more energy production than coal, for the first time in history.

The UK are no different to ourselves, in relation to clean energy production targets in 2020 and follow up targets in 2030 arising from the COP21 agreement in Paris of last year. What is different, is the highly incentivised subsidy support in the UK driving technologies such as solar into the mainstream in the past 10 years through numerous government driven schemes. Combine these subsidies with the reduced cost of solar pv and you have an astoundingly competitive electricity and energy production option, in your own home. For free!

With renewables playing such an important role in 2015, out-performing coal in the process, recent news surrounding the future cost of solar and wind in comparison to nuclear has had a direct impact on the development of the Hinkley Plant in the UK. A recent delay on its go ahead has shown that the predictions for renewables combined with their present efficiency has really started to impact the decision making processes at the very top. An unpublished government report in the UK has calculated how large-scale solar pv and wind power will be considerably cheaper to produce than nuclear by the time the aforementioned Hinkley plant is up and running. Figures revealed in a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) in the UK are forecasting large-scale solar power to cost between £50 and £75/MWh by 2025. Nuclear power on the other hand is expected to cost between £85 and £125/MWh by the same date. The UK government has already agreed a guaranteed purchase price of £92.50/MWh with developers of the Hinkley plant for the nuclear power produced.

This is an important development for us here in Ireland, as we look to our counterparts here in Europe for evidence of successful energy strategies. It is also important because of the electricity we import from the UK through the East West Interconnector that ultimately comes from these exact energy sources we have already discussed. In an ideal world, we would become self-sufficient through our own renewable energy infrastructure here in Ireland. The scope for which, with large-scale solar pv cheapening over time, is hopefully starting to prick a few ears at the Department of Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resourcesin Dublin. We can at least take confidence from the success of solar farms in the UK, with the proliferation of such starting to gather pace here in Ireland, a small push from the government in relation to this could really give our own national grid a real shot in the arm. But we wait and see.

On a smaller scale, Part L regulations and the renewable energy aspect of such, has seen a lot of new housing developments take advantage of solar pv to bolster their green credentials while adding value to each property also.

All solar developments in the UK should be closely watched by the Department of Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources as it provides us with a solid case study in relation to how we should really start to engage with large-scale renewable energy projects with a view to both our 2020 and 2030 targets. We here at Activ8 Solar Energies can speak from experience when we say that the Irish people have been pushing it on a smaller scale for well over a decade. Our 7,000 installations to date prove such.


Activ8 Suppliers Recognised in EuPD Research as Top Solar Brands

There is a reason we work with specific partners and suppliers in the solar industry. We value quality, efficiency and performance above all else. That is also the reason why we chased ISO 9001 accreditation in 2015 with such purpose. Within Activ8 Group, everything is in our control, the way in which the products we use are produced, is subjectively, out of our control. But we choose our suppliers carefully.

Getting EUPD Research Recognition in the Solar Industry

That is why we were delighted to hear that their shared value of quality was recognised recently as part of the recent EUPD Research results for 2016 with our inverter partners, Solis (string) and Enphase (micro) both receiving Top Brand within the Solar PV category. To add to this, our solar pv panel supplier have had their Bloomberg Tier 1 panel quality recognised also, with an award for their modules within the Solar PV category also.

It is important to us, that our customers know they are receiving the very best of products installed on their properties, be them retail or commercial. We won’t always claim to be the cheapest solar panel installer here in Ireland, but we can safely say there are a number of things that our competitors cannot claim to possess that we do.

It is important to note that EuPD Research is the leading market intelligence company in the sustainable business sector and they pride themselves on delivering deep and diverse industry insight and in everything they do, they look to embody the principles of sustainability.

To be the best, you have to use the best and congratulations to our partners Suntech, Solis and Enphase on their recent recognition.


Australia Saves $1 Billion Per Year With Solar

Solar panels on suburban Australian home roof
** Note: Visible grain at 100%, best at smaller sizes

As far as the energy industry is concerned, Australia has proven that the efficient implementation of simple ideas can yield unprecedented and unbelievable results. Australia's embracing of alternative energy in the form of its nationwide solar PV panel project has taken the country by storm, saving it more than $1 billion per year on power bills. The Aussies have installed well over 23.2 million solar PV panels this year. When you think about it, that’s nearly one solar panel for every person in the country (at the last census, Australia was calculated as being home to 24 million people). While there can be no denying that Australia has invested heavily in solar, the $1 billion annual saving represents a significant return on investment, an average saving of $653 per household per year.

Recent years have seen a huge increase in the number of solar panel installations on Australian rooftops. Since the 2007-2008 financial year the country has saved approximately $4.4bn thanks to its solar energy investment. For the past three years the country has been saving an annual average of $1bn thanks to renewable solar energy which certainly justifies the nation’s many installations. The installation of rooftop solar panels has become the norm in Australia’s building industry as people and businesses wisen up to the fact that they had been missing a trick in not putting them up much sooner. In fact, Australians now spend almost as much money on solar panels as they do on coffee.

Solar Power to the People

Households and small business investors have invested more than $8 Billion in the installation of rooftop solar panels. This translates to a grand total of more than 1.5 million households and business units. In the recently concluded financial year, Australians invested $1.23bn on the installation of solar panels. The initiative to revolutionise renewable energy in Australia continues to be a resounding success because the most crucial portion of the population, it’s everyday working citizens, is committed to ensuring that it is successful. It is the hard earned cash from home owners and small business investors that has made the project a success.

Australia has set the pace for the global revolution of the use of renewable energy. Currently, the country's generation has hit 6.5TWh (terawatt-hours) from the already installed rooftop solar PV panels. Such large amounts of clean and renewable power is not only beneficial to the country's economy and revenue but it also brings about great environmental benefits. For example, the country's ongoing generation of clean solar energy helps prevent as much as 6.3 tonnes of greenhouse gases from reaching the atmosphere and causing irreparable damage every single year. This is of huge benefit to the Australian environment and its people as Australia is known to have some of the thinnest patches in the Ozone layer, which creates a lot of problems. The country's progress in implementing the use of alternative energy has been such a huge success because it has been spearheaded by a great many visionaries who have taken global energy goals and targets into their perspective, a very forward-thinking attitude toward carrying out business.

Future Australian politicians and other stakeholders need to ensure that the country maintains the current renewable energy trend to ensure that it continues to enjoy the benefits of renewable energy, as not doing so could negatively impact them at the voting booth. Approximately 5 million Australians have installed PV panels on their property, indicating a huge level of support for renewable energy initiatives among the populace. This represents a base of more than one in five voters, so politicians would be ignoring the popularity and usefulness of solar power at their own peril!

What can we learn from this in Ireland?

With Australia leading the way in terms of embracing clean and renewable forms of energy, we can learn a lot from them right here in Ireland. The impressive savings which Australian homeowners and businesses are making thanks to placing their trust in solar power is plain for all to see. With that in mind, it is high time the people of Ireland followed suit and took their share of the spoils!

Sure, there are plenty of Australian citizens that have taken to solar technologies because of their environmentally friendly approach to energy production, but that sort of adoption points directly towards the savings which we’ve outlined already. That reason alone has seen solar panels begin to appear on rooftops all over Ireland, but the number of people who have invested are still in the minority however. Depending on the size and energy needs of your building, massive savings can be made through the installation of solar panels on your home or business location. Whatever you do, don't delay. Now is the time to invest!


New Name For Department Sees Climate Change Importance Grow in Government

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Denis Naughten said the department would be known as the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the transfer of functions from the previous Department of Environment, Community and Local Government was completed. Mr Naughten said the transfer of the environment function allowed the synergies between climate and sustainable energy policy to be fully realised.
“It brings a coherence across the various policy areas involved, and will ensure that Ireland addresses the challenges in ways that are technically feasible, cost-effective and fair in terms of Ireland’s contribution to the overall EU ambition.’’

Mr Naughten said the Government would continue to strive to protect Ireland’s energy supply, generation, security, affordability and sustainability, and to ensure Ireland complied with international energy and climate-change policies. The Minister was replying to Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, the very man that opened the Activ8 Solar Energies headquarters in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan all of 7 years ago. Eamon Ryan has said including “environment’’ in the title would allow Mr Naughten in his ministerial duties to “grab the power and grow the department, to strengthen and empower it within Government’’.

We tend to agree with Mr. Ryan to the extent that not only should the word “environment” be included in the title of the department, it should be intertwined throughout each department, rather than isolated on its own. However, this move will allow Minister Naughten to approach other departments in his ministerial position with a view to discussing the impact renewable energy may have on their day-to-day operations and where improvements can be made. This can only be seen as a positive step in relation to the growth of the solar power industry in Ireland. Although steps have already been realised in this regard, with state bodies including solar pv on new builds of all descriptions, from schools to council buildings, it is important that we keep pushing the potential of solar pv for electricity generation in Ireland given our generous annual solar yield and ability to produce substantial amounts of solar electricity from solar pv systems across the country, with the highest yields experienced in the sunny South East.

Although solar isn’t the only show in town, it is important to note the ministers hesitations in relation to wind turbines. The Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources said he accepted a significant number of people had objections to wind turbines, with a view to further consultation on the technology and infrastructure. "There is an issue in relation to wind turbines, there is absolutely no doubt about that," he said. "We also have the potential rollout of solar power as well, in relation to electricity generation," he added. The latter part of this statement bodes well for solar growth in Ireland.


Activ8 Solar Energies Feature at Reception of NSAI ISO9001 Certification Event

Our General Manager Aidan Marron, along with our Installation Manager Stephen Duffy, attended the recent NSAI event where a number of companies were awarded their NSAI certificates. We were there to collect our ISO 9001 Accreditation for our Quality Management Systems. This event was used by the NSAI to showcase the direct correlation between companies who have received certification and their operating profit and growth.
We can only speak of our own experience. We would agree with the results of the study whilst also wanting to shed some light on how the process improvements involved in readying the company are what actually result in company growth and profit improvements.

We can only speak in relation to our own experience within the solar industry, but when it comes to an investment such as solar panels, we feel that customers will look towards our NSAI certification and no that they are dealing with a company that puts quality at the forefront of everything they do. Here at Activ8 Solar Energies, our ISO9001 accreditation for Quality Management Systems is proof. Proof that whatever stage a customer is at, they are involved in a process that some 7000+ customers have gone through, allowing us to refine and perfect our own processes for a better customer experience as they purchase a solar system from us.

This certification is one that we are very proud of, given that we are the only dedicated solar installer in Ireland to achieve ISO9001. Something that sets us apart from competitors and gives our customers reassurance that their investment in solar panels with Activ8 Solar Energies, is a safe investment.


Solar PV In Focus - Recent Installation Points The Way Forward

We recently featured in a piece covering the installation of an Activ8 Solar PV System on the roof of St. Clare’s Abbey Primary & Nursery School in Co. Down, one of our latest Solar PV installations. Gary Connolly, from our PV department discussed the challenges that presented themselves during the initial construction of this project. With extensive PV experience, we were able to change the design to suit this exact installation, opting for a GSE ‘In Roof’ integrated roof-mounting system, which fits into the roof rather than sitting up above it.
It is less obtrusive and more aesthetically pleasing.

Our experience has allowed us to work with many different types of structures and roofing compositions. The challenging aspect of our St. Clare’s installation was the Kingspan slate and tile support system. This meant that all regular mounting systems compromised the weather-tightness of the roof.
This level of weather-tightness could only secured through this installation. Gary and our team were delighted with the solution as it looked extremely well on roof and naturally complimented the architectural styling of the building.

Another aspect of the installation that was very important to us, as it is with all of our PV installations, is the ability to monitor the system going forward. We worked with the MGA Communications crew to integrate the monitoring of the system into the onsite BMS.

This project is another feather in the cap of our PV Department here at Activ8 Solar Energies as it adds to the vast array of PV work we have completed to date. As part of this installation we used a Solis 3 phase inverter, boasting a highly efficient yield curve, 2 MPPT Trackers and a 10-year warranty - which is five more than the industry standard. Not to mention our main solar PV panel of choice, the Suntech 270w black mono solar panels, the best in the business with their Bloomberg Tier 1 rating. We’ve worked on projects as big as 100kWh systems on cinemas, right down to Part L compliant 1 kWp systems on new-build housing developments throughout Ireland.

It is important to us that each and every job is approached in the same manner. With this in mind, we see a lot of new-build solar PV opportunities arising with the heavily publicised housing shortage in Ireland at the moment. With the growth of the economy and high demand for quality housing, we feel that solar PV in Ireland presents a great opportunity for developers looking towards Part L compliance in their upcoming developments.

We are the only ISO accredited dedicated solar installer in Ireland at present and with extensive experience of over 7,000 installations across the island itself, we are in an excellent position to consult, design and install solar on new developments.
To read our featured piece on St. Clares Primary School, click here.