Solar energy and biodiversity (biosolar) happening at roof level. Now that’s stacking up the environmental benefits in one hit. Here at GRT we are aware of a few small scale green roofs that have incorporated solar panels. There was a project down in Devon and I am sure there were a couple of projects in Sussex.
The biosolar roof project is one that sits well with our approach to small scale green roofs. Dusty is in fact helping out on the UK end of the project. This project intends to promote the benefits of integrating solar thermal and energy solutions at roof level with green roofs. That in itself is a great idea. However the ‘bio’ is where it hits a good nerve. Because biodiversity has been a big element of our work.
Biodiversity and Energy
Bugs, bees and wildflower may not immediately be associated with silver solar cells but there is a link. And a very direct one at that. We are particularly fond of topography on a green roof. This allows for a diverse floral to develop on the roof. Topography provides different moisture content in the substrate. And moisture is key, especially on a green roof. Solar panels may appear to be a problem due to the obvious shading effect.. However if done correctly ( using techniques to draw moisture beneath the panels) then the sharing effect can actually retain moisture thus adding plant diversity.
And then there is that moisture. When plants evaporate water in the summer time they can help to keep the perfect micro-climate around the panels for energy production.
Then there are solar evacuated tubes – these allow water through but provide shading. The Muse in Islington (designed by Bere Associates) is a roof we know well. It used many of the techniques in the guide. During the long spring drought in 2011 in SE England it was great to see how the chives and thrive beneath the tubes. And of course the chives brought bees and other pollinators.
Looking for small scale examples of Biosolar roofs
We know of one bisolar roof that has been built using the guide. Down in Cornwall a small solar thermal panel was installed. The technique was similar to how a roof light is installed on a small green roof. This is all explained in the guide.
It would be good to hear from anyone who has bought the guide and actually installed solar panels on their green roof. Be good to hear any thoughts advice to share with the bio solar roof project.. Keep with us as we will, in the near future being adding a section on this.