Portable Solar Technology to power island buildings and Council vehicles
Pioneering work that allows power to be generated from portable solar fields is being carried out at Cardiff Council’s Lamby Way depot and on Flat Holm Island.

The ‘Rapid Roll’ system tested at these sites allows PV solar panels to be unrolled like a carpet from a small trailer in just 2 minutes! Energy created will ultimately power the buildings on Flat Holm Island, which is managed by Cardiff Council, and also be used to charge two Nissan Env200 electric vehicles at Lamby Way.

The company behind the ‘Rapid Roll’ technology – Renovagen Ltd  – was one of the winners of a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition that was run by Cardiff Council last year. The SBRI competition was funded by the Welsh Government, Innovate UK and the Department for Energy and Climate Change (now called the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy). The other winner was Inside2Outside Ltd. who have developed a mobile generator with more than 40 flexible solar panels.

Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment, Cllr Michael Michael said: “I am very excited by this work which is in the vanguard of solar energy technology and has the potential to change the way we manage our energy requirements in the future. The energy created using these portable solar systems in a short space of time is very impressive, 11kW from a small trailer unit within 2 minutes or up to 300kW from a shipping container unit in less than an hour. Being able to promote new technology like this underlines the importance of the SBRI competition led by Cardiff Council.”

Managing Director of Renovagen Ltd., John Hingley said: “We are delighted to have completed our deployment of RAPID ROLL solar power systems to Flat Holm Island and Lamby Way. We have been able to demonstrate the outstanding mobility and robustness of the RAPID ROLL system on Flat Holm. This was achieved via delivery of the unit to a beach by landing craft, through repositioning hundreds of metres away and full deployment of the solar field – all in only one hour. In addition the successful charging of Electric Vehicles (EVs) at Lamby Way by a portable renewable energy system validates the use of this technology for truly sustainable transport at sites where a grid connection may not be available or where a solution is urgently needed. We see this as an important development in the context of the boom in EV usage and the extra strain EV charging puts on the electricity grid.”

Wales’ Skills and Science Minister, Julie James, who leads on innovation and research across the Welsh Government, added: “This SBRI demonstrates how the public and private sector can successfully work together to tackle societal and environmental challenges in innovative ways and deliver benefits to both public sector bodies and industry as well as the people they serve.

“We have worked closely with Cardiff Council for a number of years on SBRI projects. This is a great example of how the authority is collaborating effectively with industry to deliver real solutions to some of the most important challenges facing us all. Utilising sustainable and environmentally friendly energy sources is a key priority for this government and I look forward to seeing how this exciting project develops.”

Bryan Forbes, innovation lead for Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, said: “Innovate UK is proud to support this fantastic project, not only because of the technology involved, but also because it wanted to work with a local authority which was committed to innovation. Cardiff Council is the first in the UK to run a competition such as this and the solar solution is entirely fitting for the natural environment.”