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  • Nigel Hargreaves

The Norwich Solar System

Norwich has around 100,000 buildings, with 31% non-residential. Of these, the Norwich BID area consists of over 700 levy paying businesses spanning 293ha, representing a large proportion of the energy usage in the city centre. The surge in energy prices, coupled with net zero aspirations presents an urgent opportunity to explore new forms of low carbon, low-cost energy for Norwich.

In 2023, Norwich BID introduced The BID Breakfast, a series of free business networking events where over 100 businesses signed up to attend. Dr Nigel Hargreaves from Synfo gave a series of comprehensive presentations introducing the concept of The Norwich Solar System, showing the findings from the research conducted within the eight Norwich districts: Cathedral Quarter, King Street Quarter, Riverside, Creative Quarter, Castle and Marketplace, Norwich Lanes, Chapelfield and Business District. The optimum rooftop solar sites were identified in each district with an estimate of how much energy they could potentially generate. The financial opportunities, barriers and economic prospects for businesses investing in solar were also discussed.

A digital model of the optimally placed non-domestic rooftops was needed to be built as a first step.

This was followed by modelling solar PV arrays on a sample of sites to confirm the potential generation capacity.

Phase 1 of this visionary project, undertaken in collaboration with the Norwich Eco Hub and funded by the County Council’s Norfolk Investment Framework, aimed to understand the potential of suitable commercial rooftop space across all eight districts of the city. Businesses are now being recruited for Phase 2, which aims to pilot a 'Solar Zone' of clustered participants in a solar powered local energy market. In Phase 3 it is hoped we can rollout the project to a wider area of the city and create what may be the UK’s largest urban solar farm.

For the results and to understand more about the approach developed for this Phase 1 please download the publications below:

The Norwich Solar System Executive Summary

Technical Study

Social Study


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