The 200kw project represents the largest solar installation of in the UK and is scheduled for completion in December this year
The photovoltaic cells, which are housed in glass panels and serve the dual purpose of replacing conventional materials while simultaneously harnessing energy from natural light to produce clean energy, will provide an output of over 200kw at peak performance. This is over 10% of the maximum power requirement of the building.
BP Solar says the building will represent a showcase for Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) technology, widely regarded as a key feature of buildings of the future. "The project is significant because it proves that the technologies are available to deliver practical solar energy systems," said BP Solar Business Executive Manager Ray Noble.
"It is also meeting the Governments challenge to the construction industry to integrate renewable energy into buildings, and because we have been involved in the design process from the very beginning of the project, we have been able to develop a design that will maximise the benefits of PV, in terms of performance and substitution of conventional cladding material."
The £35 million building project, which is beginning to take shape in the heart of the Ipswich Village redevelopment area, is effectively creating a new sustainable clean energy headquarters for TXU-Europe, the UKs largest domestic electricity supplier. All 1,000 of TXU-Europes staff based in five existing offices in the Ipswich area will be relocated to the new building.
High performance grid-connected mono-crystalline silicon photovoltaic panels will be incorporated in the design of the buildings, replacing conventional cladding materials on roofs and façades. On the sunniest days, the system will generate 200kWp, meeting all the electrical requirements of the site.
The system will also cut carbon dioxide emissions. It is estimated that over the course of a year emissions of CO2 will be reduced by some 140 tonnes and that the photovoltaic panels will generate a significant percentage of the sites total electricity. The installation of the Photovoltaic package will be completed and commissioned by November.
From an architectural point of view, the aesthetics of the building are stunning. Four types of glass-to-glass PV module are being incorporated into the actual fabric of the six-storey building structure (four types of glass-glass module are being manufactured for installation into the facade and four types for the atria) and will be fixed using a standard curtain wall system. There are also over 600 standard BPS laminates being installed as screening around the roof-top plant areas and to utilise otherwise 'spare' roof space for additional PV generation. The solar modules will be integrated on the south facing facades, spandrel panels, modesty panels, and on the atrium roof.
Grid connected solar technologies in both residential and commercial buildings are growing at rates in excess of 30% per year and according to a recent survey among local councils in the UK, it was easily the most favoured technology among those councils currently planning a renewable energy project.
"New or refurbished schemes can exploit building integrated photovolatics (BIPV), which provide the option of PV used as a substitute building material instead of roof tiles or glass walls," Noble said. "BIPV offers both striking design features and displaces the original building material, thereby reducing the cost of introducing PV.
"Contrary to popular understanding, PV does not require full sun to provide energy. A typical British grey day will also generate sufficient sunlight to produce electricity. Available technologies now offer a wide choice to designers and architects, and the UK has some of the best solar designers in the world, so there is plenty of scope and expertise around to ensure that projects look right and work effectively. The technology is simple for installers to manage and once installed is very low maintenance."