Building-Integrated Solar Shoots Upward in the UK

Insurance giant Co-operative Insurance Society announced that their headquarters in Manchester, England will be covered in Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV). The building – known locally as the CIS Tower – is the tallest office building outside of London and is the dominant feature on the Manchester skyline.

When the project is complete, it will be the largest vertical solar cladding project in Europe and the largest solar power system in the UK. “This project demonstrates on an impressive scale that solar technologies can be used to create beautiful buildings,” said Jeremy Leggett, solarcentury CEO and Member of the Government’s Renewable Advisory Board. Solarcentury has provided the solar design expertise for the project from the outset and will be responsible for supplying the solar technology and advising the project team on the integration of the solar array into the building. At 391 kW of installed power covering 3,200 square meters and generating 180,000 units of electricity per year, this will be solarcentury’s largest installation to date. “Normally functionless cladding can be replaced by aesthetic solar cladding, often at a cheaper price, hence providing clean renewable electricity for free,” Leggett said. “Given that around 50 percent of all UK carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings, this is a huge new step forward on the road to cutting those emissions.” The solar modules will be manufactured by Sharp, the world’s leading PV manufacturer (in terms of overall capacity) and a key solarcentury technology partner. “The project demonstrates how solar technology can blend easily with standard cladding technologies to make the seemingly exotic, but in fact environmentally imperative, mainstream,” Andy Bodycombe, solarcentury’s head of project management. The &pound5.5 million (US$ 10 million) solar project, is being supported by grants from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The DTI’s Major PV Demonstration Programme is managed by the Energy Saving Trust (EST).
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