Cambridge University accommodation sees 384-kilowattpeak solar PV installation

17 December 2018

Phase one of the University of Cambridge’s new development has now been completed: it features 384 kWp of solar photovoltaic (PV) – installed by Photon Energy and mounted on 9 apartment blocks.

The North West Cambridge development, being funded by the University of Cambridge, is being built in many phases and will provide up to 3,000 new homes and community facilities, particularly to help overcome problems with overcrowding and rising land prices in the city.

Staff at the university are hoping that the affordable housing will help the institution to retain the best researchers and staff – ensuring it can maintain its status as a leading global academic and research institution.

Photon Energy won the tender from main contractor Wates to install 384.23 kWp of solar PV at Lot 2 of the development, comprised of key worker units, local shops and a café, positioned around a market square.

This development has been carefully created with sustainability in mind. The apartments have been built to the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5: they contain a number of features, including triple layers of insulation, brown roofs and a district heating system, as well as the solar PV arrays generate clean energy for each of the homes.

The solar PV arrays had to be designed by Photon to fit in with various elements on the roofs of the apartment buildings. These included the ‘brown roof’ areas covered with soil and sections that were laid with pebbles, to ease flooding and to improve insulation.

This largescale project took place over two years and required meticulous project management to work around all the other trades on site, and also to deal with the restrictions that were placed on roof access.

Due to the limitations with roof space, SunPower 327 PV modules were chosen to ensure the maximum possible output, with a total of 1,175 being installed. The modules were fixed to a K2 Systems D-Dome mounting system, ideally suited to flat roofs, and then connected to Zeversolar inverters.

The solar PV will generate approximately 262,355 kWh of electricity each year for the local residents, and also save 136 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Said Lefteris Giraleas, senior engineer at Photon Energy: “This was a challenging project, requiring coordination with the many other trades working on site at the same time. We worked well with the team at Wates, ensuring the installation went as smoothly as possible and was completed on time.”

To quote Adrian Wells, project manager at Wates, moreover: “Photon Energy successfully rose to the challenge of designing the solar PV arrays and installing them on the limited roof space.

“The brown roof and pebbled areas created obstacles that had to be worked around and in addition, they had to coordinate with many other tradesman working in the roof areas. The installation was carried out to a high standard across the development.”

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