University of Leicester eBulletin

University Receives Government Funding for EC Renewable Energy Project

                                                                                                                                                          December 2002
No 274

The University of Leicester Department of Engineering has been selected in the second round of a Government programme promoting solar energy.

Under the Department of Trade and Industry’s Major Photovoltaic (PV) Demonstration Programme, the University has received a grant of £237,183 to install 40kWp of PV panels on the roof of its Engineering Building.

The Leicester Engineering Building, designed by architects James Stirling and James Gowan, is a Grade 2* Listed building. The photovoltaic system, consisting of specially manufactured laminated glass/glass modules, will be integrated into the building’s roof lights.  

Leicester was one of 19 schemes to be selected for solar power, fighting off fierce competition across the UK.   The successful applicants all win a share of a £2.2 million Government grant, part of a total £20 million programme.

Under previous schemes, the Government has provided £5.4 million to help develop 500 solar powered homes and £4.2 million for 18 solar powered buildings through the DTI’s domestic and large-scale field trials.

The development of the PV system is a joint undertaking of the Department of Engineering and the Estates Office, and forms part of the European Community UnivERsol project, aimed at demonstration and dissemination of photovoltaic technology through the installation of 25 medium to large-size PV systems in educational and cultural buildings in four EC countries, amounting to a total of 707 kWp.

The detailed design of the system was carried out by Dr Hans Bleijs, lecturer in Electrical Power Systems in the Department of Engineering, who is in charge of the University’s involvement in the UnivERsol project. The PV system will also provide a research and teaching facility for the Electrical and Electronic Power Engineering group for the study of optimisation and control of PV systems and grid integration.

Head of Department of Engineering at Leicester Professor Ian Postlethwaite said: “This development will produce a solar energy research and teaching facility of national importance.”

Energy Minister Brian Wilson, who has set up “Renewables UK” to promote the growth of the green energy market, said: “I am convinced that solar power should make a real contribution to the UK’s energy mix. It is now crucial that the right foundations are put in place”.

“These nineteen projects will add to the hundreds of solar houses and buildings which the Government has already sponsored. They range from leisure centres, schools and offices to business parks and modern flats.”

NOTE TO EDITORS:   Further information is available from Dr Hans Bleijs, Department of Engineering, University of Leicester, telephone 0116 252 2553, facsimile 0116 252 2619, email

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