British Ambassador takes ‘go green’ to new heights

By Chris Graeme [email protected]

In a further milestone commitment to being green, the British Embassy in Lisbon has installed a revolutionary new solar panel at its premises.

The new, light weight and reasonably priced panel developed by Reading-based company Whitfield Solar promises to knock hundreds of Euros off its annual electricity bill as well as reducing its carbon footprint.

Launched by the British Ambassador Alex Ellis with the Embassy’s Trade & Investment and Green teams, the company’s CEO Stephen Bates and Project Development Manager Iñaki Esparza were on hand to explain the technical aspects and benefits of the WS:Si24 Solar Concentrator.

The low-cost system comprises a rectangular frame with a dedicated sensing and tracking system to maximise versatility and energy capture. In laymen’s terms, that means that the panels can move thanks to a computerised system, allowing it to always catch the sun at any time of the day.

Each unit consists of 24 concentrator modules each containing 12 series connected mono-crystalline silicon cells with individual diode protection.

CEO of Whitfield Solar Stephen Bates (right) with Iberia & North Africa Project Developer Iñaki Salvador Lopez Esparza
CEO of Whitfield Solar Stephen Bates (right) with Iberia & North Africa Project Developer Iñaki Salvador Lopez Esparza

Stephen Bates said they could be easily deployed both on the ground and on roofs, were easy to install, and arrived fully assembled and in working order.

The Whitfield Solar project – the company was formed in 2004 by George Whitfield – took years of research from a team based at Reading University with the remit of how to come up with a low cost, cheap-to-assemble-and-run solar system.

At present, the units are manufactured using existing automotive processes in Italy, but the plans are to produce them in Portugal and Australia with particular attention to Portuguese speaking markets in Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, India, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde (where they have several village projects up and running).

The company’s focus is to find strategic partners in the countries from which it plans to manufacture and distribute the panels. In Portugal, it has distributors Bright Solar Portugal and Smallpower Renewable Energies.  

The British Ambassador said that the Embassy in Lisbon was “one of the top three greenest embassies in the world and tried to use innovative technology to reduce consumption and emissions”.

In the past two years, both at the Embassy and Ambassador’s residence they have succeeded in reducing gas and electricity by around 30 per cent, have installed water-efficient pumps and even have a vegetable allotment to grow greens.

“Through this dynamic British company, we have the chance to showcase what’s best in the UK,” said the Ambassador who cycles to work at the embassy which, “by the way, was voted as the most innovative and efficient embassy in the world”.