West Bromwich goes green with amazing solar-powered market stalls
IN A GROUNDBREAKING first, West Bromwich in the West Midlands has installed new market stalls with transparent solar PV (photovoltaic) glass roofs which power the market’s lighting and feed into the National Grid.
The new stalls have given the market a much brighter, modern look, as well as solving an antisocial behaviour problem, and providing green energy solution which means the council can make money from providing lighting, rather than charging for it.
Andy Bucknall, Sandwell Council’s deputy market manager, who has helped run markets in West Brom for more than 30 years, said that, whilst there were teething problems, the new, environmentally friendly stalls had been well received by traders and shoppers alike.
The lighting on the stalls is powered by the solar glass and any surplus energy goes into the grid system, for which the council will receive payment.
West Bromwich outdoor market is currently a tale of two halves. The new stalls run along the centre of the pedestrianised Hagh Street called Duchess Parade, and a short distance away the old, shabby dilapidated stalls run along the other half of the High Street called Princess Parade.
Andy explained that, when funding was available, the plan was to demolish the old stalls and create more new stalls to accommodate the displaced traders, bringing the market together.
He said: “West Bromwich market has always been popular and over the years we have invested in different stalls.”
The original ones were demountable and they were set up on a daily basis. He said the council moved to static stalls with folding-down tables, which were the best available in their day.
“They had reached the end of their life expectancy and the council was able to access some Government funding for their replacements.” Andy said.
After careful research, the market team decided to approach a company called Polysolar (see page 42), specialising in solar-powered solutions for projects like bus shelters and carport canopies, which can provide energy to power plug-in electric cars.
Although they had never produced glass for market stalls, the company was keen to tackle the project and the stalls were designed and constructed in a short timeframe over a couple of months this spring in the middle of a pandemic.
“The timeframe was challenging, and the fact that we were in lockdown did not help.” Andy said.
Bu the project was successfully delivered and by May the traders were in situ.
Andy said it was fair to say there had been some teething problems, in particular the issue of the High Street creating a wind tunnel and raid getting through.
But plans were in place to mitigate the problems by installing breaks at the gable ends, he said.
The fact that the stall roofs are transparent has also helped cut down on anti-social behaviour as the CCTV cameras can see a lot more.
Gulokham Miakhil, who helps on his cousin’s fruit and veg stall on the market, said traders welcomed the investment in the market and the new stalls looked bright and modern.
Article in the Market Times - June 2021 Edition: Market Times June 2021 (nmtf.co.uk) (pages 36-37)