We’re supporting homeowners and small businesses to install solar PV, by providing independent advice and improving access to good installers.

Renewable energy generation is one of our most important weapons in fighting the climate emergency. And one of the most immediately familiar and widespread technologies that produces renewable energy is solar PV. Despite all appearances, there is plenty of sunshine in Cumbria to generate worthwhile amounts of power.

The ultimate aim of the Solar Made Easy project is to help install as much solar PV infrastructure as possible. Alongside his goal, we want to help people understand solar PV, how it works and how to go about getting it installed and we also want to get people thinking about energy efficiency.

Competition for installers

A main issue with the installation of solar PV at the moment is that demand is outstripping supply. The energy crisis has made everyone want to cut their energy bills and many are thinking about solar PV. Whilst we have some good installers in Cumbria, there aren’t hundreds of them and they are fairly small businesses. Understandable, the installers are most interested in big sites where the most profit can be made.

This project aims to create a solution to this issue by using an approach based on clusters of sites, working with communities to turn many small jobs into one big job to make it more attractive to installers.

We have been running a pilot in Ambleside since later 2021 and are delighted that the first installation is now complete. Our happy homeowner told us “We’re really pleased with the result and keep popping into the cupboard where the electrics are to check progress – we’re like a couple of kids on Christmas Eve!  Without your help and support we’d probably be still procrastinating because we had so little knowledge.

Our second system is due to be installed on 20th June at the Victorian House Hotel in Grasmere, and a further ten households are in the process of receiving quotes from our partner installers.

We are now working with five additional communities to plan how to roll-out the project in their areas. These specific communities were chosen as they have active sustainability groups or parish or town councils who will support the project and help engage their local residents.

Love Solar installing solar panels at Alston schools

Creating solar communities

In 2020, we helped create a mapping tool which was used to evaluate the viability of solar PV in the town of Ambleside. The Ambleside map can be viewed here. It provides an estimate of the amount of electricity that could be generated from solar PV on individual roofs – you can hover over each roof to find out how much. Please note though that it is only an estimate which needs to be verified with a site survey.

We’re now in the process of mapping the additional five communities, which will help us to identify the buildings with the most potential for solar PV and which will help us to engage with local homeowners. If you want to find out more about how the mapping is done, please watch this presentation to Arnside Parish Council.

As and when we launch in new communities, we will be inviting homeowners and businesses to get involved with the project. Working with the local sustainability group and parish or town councils, we will review their roofs for suitability, gather information and pass them on as a cluster to our installers.

Watch our webinars

In November 2021, we hosted a webinar explaining the Solar Made Easy project in detail. It went through how you can take advantage of it, as well as provided information about solar PV and answered any questions attendees had.

Then, in June 2022, we hosted a Solar PV Question Time session where we invited the public to ask their own questions about the process of installing solar PV. We also heard from someone who had recently had the technology installed on their home.

You can watch both webinar sessions below.

This project is funded by South Lakeland District Council and Electricity North West.

We are partnered with Carbon Coop who helped us to design the project and who will be providing technical advice for the future.

Additionally, we are partnered with Ambleside Action for a Future who initiated the project and were the pilot site for our mapping tool. They will form a part of the overall steering group.

South lakeland district council logo 300px
Ambleside Action for a Future logo