New solar display unveiled at CAT in a blaze of sunshine and fire

Home » New solar display unveiled at CAT in a blaze of sunshine and fire


CAT’s Longest serving engineer, Roger White, unveiled a new solar PV display at the CAT visitors centre on Friday. The new displaydemonstrates one way in which solar PV modules can be incorporated into the roof of a building – adding another dimension to the two roof integrated PV systems already on display at CAT.

Rogers first attempt at cutting the tape was to use a magnifying glass to focus the power of the sun. Despite it being a glorious sunny day I think we would have been there some considerable time if we had to rely on that approach alone. Luckily Roger had also prepared some “stored solar energy”, as he put it, in the form of a ladle full of burning straw which he used to burn through the tape. After a hairy moment hoping the whole lot wouldn’t go up in flames the new display was declared open.

The new display consists of five ‘solar slates’ – each of which is a small solar panel (rated at 47Wp) designed to be used in place of roofing slates.  These have been mounted onto a demonstration roof made up of a mixture of the solar slates and reclaimed Welsh slates which sits on a newly constructed timber frame. Beneath the roof is a micro-inverter, converting the output on the PV cells into grid standard electricity, along with a screen showing how much electricity has been generated by the roof, as wells as the real-time output of the existing large (20kWp) PV roof located just in front of the new display.

What is the advantage of roof integrated PV?

In most cases, ordinary PV cells mounted on the roof are absolutely adequate and the most cost effective way to install solar power. But there are some circumstances where making the PV modules less visually intrusive by integrating them into the roof is a real advantage. In particular, solar slates are typically used in historic buildings or conservation areas. Another situation where they can make sense is on new buildings. It means that rather than buying all the materials and spending the time building a roof and then covering it with some PV panels, you can just build one roof with the solar cells already making the weatherproof covering – saving materials and time.

Our next short course about solar PV systems is taking place in May, we also do installers courses and introductory courses. Click here to see our upcoming solar PV courses.