TEP Renewables, based at the University of Warwick Science Park’s Business Innovation Centre in Binley, design and develops renewable energy projects helping partners get them up and running.
The firm is looking at bolstering its position in the UK market now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased off and helping farmers make the transition towards net-zero.
Chairman & CEO Leonardo Montesi explains how solar power and their innovative solutions could see much more electricity being generated through solar panels across the country:
Solar power is not something you would necessarily associate with the UK with its notoriously cloudy weather. Indeed, much of our work before our move here took place in South of Europe and Italy.
But, in reality, there is a lot of scope for solar power to contribute significantly to renewable energy generation in the UK – especially with some of the innovations we have developed.
One of the barriers to take-up of solar power by landowners such as farmers is the trade-off between green energy generation and the use of flat farmland. With traditional solar systems, there is little else you can use the land for once they are installed.
TEP Renewables is addressing the issue by proposing unique Agrivoltaic (AV) Systems and mainly designing solar PV plants with an increased gap spacing between solar panel clusters that allows the cultivation of crops in the rows between the modules.
TEP Renewables is also offering innovative AV Systems, such as a system of solar panels which are suspended up to five metres from the ground allowing crops to be grown underneath. This is thanks to a bi-axial system that moves the panels during the day to maximise sunlight capture and to a software that manages shadows on the crops beneath.
We are also patenting in Europe, UK and the USA a proprietary AV System which allows light through completely, representing another viable solution that allows valuable crops to be grown while generating green energy with a traditional ground mounted solar-PV plant.
With energy prices rising significantly and the government making more commitments towards helping the country achieve net-zero, we anticipate much more interest from farmers in installing these innovative solar panels on their land.
It is not just farmers whose land is used for solar panels. We assess all sorts of potential sites for economic viability before approaching investors about building on the land.
Demand is very high among investors and landowners alike due to the increasing importance of green energy production from an economic and moral standpoint.
We are building in England a pipeline of 500 MW of grid-connected greenfield projects, which we expect will achieve ready to-build-status in 2023-2024. This is a significant amount of additional power generation capacity when you consider the cumulative installed capacity of solar PV in the UK is around 13.5 GW.
Highlighting the tax savings and government schemes available, we will also push our AGV solutions allowing farmers to use solar panels to generate a source of green energy to power their farm, which often have huge power demands through heating and refrigeration.
And some landowners will be also able to connect their solar farms to the grid, meaning a higher proportion of the country’s electricity will come from solar energy.
It is fantastic to be finally moving forward in the UK now that the majority of the disruption caused by the pandemic has ended.
We originally moved to the Science Park in 2019 to be close to the University of Warwick and to be around companies that are at the forefront of technological innovation.
The pandemic put the brakes on developing our relationship with the University, but we are looking forward to resuming our talks in how we can best collaborate on R&D.
And the Business Innovation Centre is a brilliant environment for our team to work in too – we love the facilities here and the support the team gives us.
We are excited to see what 2022 brings and using the Science Park as a base to grow our influence in the UK and potentially use it as a springboard for work in North and South America.
With green energy becoming ever more important as governments in the UK and around the world wake up to the reality of climate change, it is really exciting that we are playing an important role in helping investors and landowners generate clean energy from our base here in Coventry.