Solar roof makes 350 cuppas and 800 slices of toast a day
OUT ON THE TILES: THE MAN MAKING THE MOST OF THE SUNSHINE
Sunday 20 June 1999
Dr Leggett lives in a terrace house in Richmond, Surrey. His gleaming metal-grey tiles were installed three months ago and have generated 337kWh, though he only needs 232kWh. The surplus is sold to Seeboard, the local electricity company.
Dr Leggett, who dubs himself the "chief executive of the Solar Century" (a group campaigning for "green" energy) is delighted to have confounded sceptics who for years have claimed that solar energy is a contradiction in this dark and cloud-covered land.
On sunny days his roof generates enough excess electricity, which he feeds back in to the grid, to cover what he draws out at night and when it's overcast.
In principle, Britain's energy policymakers support solar power. A recent government-sponsored solar taskforce concluded that "Solar PV (photovoltaics) could be the single most important long term means of reducing gas omissions" and one of the most cost-effective alternative energies of the future.
And yet, while the US plans a million solar-tiled homes by 2010, Germany 100,000 by 2005 and Japan 70,000 by 2000, the UK, says Dr Leggett indignantly, has a DTI backed programme for "only 100 and with no firm timescale."
Dr Leggett, a former director of Greenpeace, blames the electricity industry, "No gas, no coal and no nuclear power would be required if every roof was covered with solar tiles. But the power companies have a policy of obstruction.
"The utilities are lobbying the government and regulators as hard as they can to stop the authorities allowing customers to get their due," says Dr Leggett.
Seeboard refutes this and says that it pays him a fair price for the electricity he generates, adding that "Seeboard has no fear of solar-powered generation. Indeed we welcome it and regularly finance research studies into solar and other renewable forms of energy."
To install a 2kW system similar to Dr Leggett's would cost about pounds 20,000. His house needed a new roof (costing up to pounds 7,000) anyway and, while installing the solar tiles, he went for a loft conversion, thereby increasing the value of the property by some pounds 25,000.
The Solar Century has negotiated a "solar mortgage" with a bank to persuade 100 pioneers to have the system installed this year in order to establish a network of national showhomes beyond Richmond.
Dr Leggett is happy to receive visitors to his "house of the future". His enthusiasm is boundless, "on a typical day," he boasts, "my roof creates enough power to make 350 cups of tea, watch 70 episodes of Coronation Street and make 800 slices of toast."
n The Solar Century can be contacted at 0870 735 8100
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...