University solar research wins industry award

Pioneering work in understanding and improving the efficiency of the UK’s solar industry has led to a University of Sheffield research group scooping a top industry award. 

Aldous Everard

Sheffield Solar, based in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, was awarded the Smart Solar Industry Award from Smart Solar UK last night (Thursday 24 November 2016). The awards recognise excellence in the solar industry.

The group, part of the University’s Energy 2050 institute and Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, has been active since 2010 and operates the UK’s largest database of electricity generation data from rooftop solar panels. It promotes the sharing of knowledge and data between industry, society and academia.

Sheffield Solar has been collecting data and analysing the performance of operational Photovoltaic (PV) systems around the UK for the past six years.

In a recent project, the group have been working with National Grid to help the transmission system operator understand how much power the UK’s increasing number of solar panels are producing and to improve the efficiency of its electricity network.

The ‘PV_Live’ project runs for two years and aims to reduce uncertainty in half hourly estimates of PV generation by, on average, 50 MW during daylight hours.

The project could mean savings for the National Grid of between £1 million and £10 million per year through offsetting the need to increase reserve holdings of the short-term response electricity used to balance the grid. This could be passed on to electricity bill payers.

Another benefit could be a reduction in the environmental impact of grid balancing operations, estimated at several thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

The ‘PV_Live’ project has been so successful that after eight months, the output from the tool went live in the National Grid control room and is now the main grid balancing tool for forecasting PV generation.

Aldous Everard, Business Development Manager at Sheffield Solar, said: “I am delighted that Sheffield Solar has been recognised through the Smart Solar Solution award from Solar UK. Our project with National Grid has greatly improved real-time estimates of PV-generated solar power and our data continues to be used by experts and energy journalists across the UK.”

The group have also been nominated for a Business Green Technology award. The winners will be announced on Friday 2 December 2016.

Additional Information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2016 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

For further information, please visit:


For further information please contact:

Kirsty Bowen
University of Sheffield
0114 222 1034