Adapting is the next big step for solar energy generation

A quick drive around a new-build industrial estate or office complex will demonstrate the impact solar panels are having in the UK.

But as an industry leader we need to be cleverer than simply carrying out installations on sites which are set up for modern renewable technology.

They key to ensuring solar energy has as big an impact in the UK as it does in mainland European countries such as Germany is to learn to work within environments which are much more challenging.

I’m talking about the challenges of installing new technology into old buildings – where issues such as planning regulations, strong designs and the aesthetics come massively into play.

Making sure you have the right system in place for the building is only the start – as an industry innovator we must adapt to the environment.

Imagine the challenges associated with integrating a solar energy system into the renovation of a Grade II-listed property just a short distance from London’s busy Oxford Circus, which is one of the projects we’ve just undertaken.

Immediately, you are faced with numerous design and planning considerations and complications.

You are talking about designing a PV system to sit over plant and structures, such as air handling units, pipework and walkways, with challenging specifications.

It requires co-ordination between the architect, main contractor, consultants and building information modelling (BIM) specialists to ensure things such as the system steelwork is designed correctly. 

In order to demonstrate how good solar PV can be, we must also work to not just meet but exceed the client’s renewable energy targets as well as provide client training for the system and achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.

It is all about power and energy at the end of the day but PV is extremely complimentary to a lot of other renewable technologies, is flexible, risk free and low maintenance.

We must also be adaptable – to ensure we take full advantage of the products we have at our disposal.