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Cambridge selects unique solar system

Ecolution powers Cambridge University sports centre as it turns to green energy to cut carbon emissions

Posted by Dave Higgitt | November 11, 2014 | Sustainability

The new sports centre at the University of Cambridge has had a unique solar PV system installed by Ecolution, designers and installers of renewable systems. The company designed a bespoke PV system that curves on two axes, resulting in very complex shading patterns and light levels. The system was installed in four weeks and is estimated to offset 37,409kg in CO2 emissions.

Paul Squire, Ecolution’s designer on the project, said: “This was an extremely complex design, and accuracy has been essential throughout – from the individually optimised modules to the building’s BMS connection. It has been a challenging installation as the roof has very sharp falls, plus the specialist zinc covering needs protecting during installation. The CO2 offset targets were challenging and much time was spent designing and demonstrating the system to achieve the BREEAM ‘very good’ standard.”

This was a complete turn-key project in which Ecolution designed and installed a 78.75kWp system using 200 Solon Solraise modules embedded with Solar Edge optimisers. Chris Bratherton, group sales manager, Ecolution, said: “The installation on the sports centre’s curved Rheinzink standing seam roof was complex as the roof falls in multiple directions, which gave each module installed a unique orientation and pitch – with a conventional system this would affect performance and yield.”

Ecolution mounted the system on the centre’s Rheinzink roof using S-5-E clamps and utilised SafeDC technology to provide system safety during installation, maintenance and emergencies. SafeDC is a web-based monitoring system used to detect faults on all areas of the installation and provides an automatic message for precise fault recognition. Ecolution used the technology to log the performance of each module so they can be remotely monitored.

The installation was able to achieve up to 25% higher output through module level maximum power point (MPP) tracking. MPP tracking enables the system to maximise the energy from each module individually, which ensures peak efficiency.

University of Cambridge vice chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz said that the university was committed to a low carbon future and that the wider £1 billion development in north-west Cambridge would be one of the most sustainable developments of its scale in the UK. The PV system installed is estimated to generate 71.8MWh of electricity annually which would contribute to the university’s sustainability goals.

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