Solarcentury helps bring solar energy to life for this year’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

This year marks the 80th anniversary since the Christmas Lectures were first broadcast on UK television. To celebrate, this year’s lectures focus on a subject that the lectures’ founder – Michael Faraday – addressed in the very first Christmas Lectures – energy.

This year’s Christmas Lectures are titled “Supercharged: Fuelling the future” and explore one of humankind’s biggest challenges: how to generate and store energy. To help demonstrate how easy it is to generate and store solar energy, Solarcentury installed solar panels and battery storage on the roof of the Royal Institution.

Dr Andrew Crossland, Energy Storage Specialist at Solarcentury comments, “In just under a day, we installed 10 solar panels, one battery and an inverter on the roof of the Royal Institution. The RI is known for being at the cutting edge of practical science, so it was fitting that solar and battery storage were a part of this year’s lectures. In fact, we’re already trialling solar and storage in the UK. With prices falling, you can expect storage to be a big part of the solar story in 2017.”

The inverter acts as the ‘central brain’, coordinating energy from the grid, the solar panels and the battery, in order to provide a consistent, low carbon source of electricity.

Before one lecture exploring renewable energy, the battery was fully charged with solar electricity generated by the panels. The mains electricity was then deliberately cut off during the lecture and energy was drawn from the battery in order to power a toaster in the lecture theatre. You’ll have to watch the lecture to see how well the toast cooked during our simulated power cut!

About the Christmas Lectures

The 2016 Christmas Lectures will be broadcast on BBC Four on 26, 27 and 28 December. See here for more details and watch here on BBC iplayer.

The Lectures began at the Royal Institution in 1825 to introduce a young audience to a subject through demonstrations. Nowadays the audience is made up of young people from all over the UK and beyond; and global audiences can enjoy the lectures via the live shows, television broadcasts and online distribution.

Solar in London

The Royal Institution’s roof is just one of a wide variety of roofs around London where Solarcentury has installed solar PV. This is the first roof with battery storage. This map shows a selection of the solar systems that Solarcentury has installed around the capital.