Iconic King’s Cross solar project officially turns on

A 240kWp rooftop PV system has officially switched on at King’s Cross railway station in London. In addition to being one of the most iconic solar projects in the UK, the £1.3 million project is also said to be one of the largest and most complex BIPV systems in the country.

The PV project is part of a larger £550 million redevelopment programme at King’s Cross station, of which £42 million was allocated to renovating the roof. As part of the renovation, 1,392 custom-made glass laminate solar panels supplied and designed by UK glass specialist Romag were incorporated into the roof structure. 

Specifically, the glass laminate units form part of two large barrel vaulted glass roofing structures which span across the main platforms of the grade 1 listed building, covering an area of more than 2,300 square metres. They will help to generate an estimated 175,000 kWh of solar power per annum which will provide around 10% of the station’s electricity demand.

Whilst Romag supplied the PV modules, Sundog Energy was responsible for designing and installing the project. However, roof glazing specialist ESB Services was contracted to install the PV glass laminates. Kier Construction, part of Kier Group, held the responsibility for providing EPC services.

The entire project was undertaken, surprisingly, without closing access to the station. With an estimated 40 million people using the station every year, this was one of the biggest challenges the project developers faced.

Speaking at a press conference, Martin Cotterell, the founder and chairman of Sundog Energy, said, “I haven’t been involved in a more challenging project in terms of complexity. I don’t know of any project that comes close to this”.

As reported by our sister website Design Build Solar, the project developers also faced a number of design problems including multiple shading issues and coming up with a design which conceals the 10km of cables used to connect the modules to the inverters.

Cotterell added, “King’s Cross has been a fantastic project to work on – but also a labour of love.  The sheer scale of the installation has presented many major technical and aesthetic design challenges from day one and there has been no margin for error as the work had to be undertaken whist the station remained fully operational.  We are very proud of our involvement as we believe the project combines the very best in modern design, technical excellence and sustainability with the grace of one of the UK’s most iconic grade 1 listed buildings.”

Simon Matthews, senior project manager for Kier Construction, stated: “The works have faced various challenges which have been dealt with in an open and collaborative manner to deliver this spectacular achievement, which combines the best of Victorian engineering with a modern sustainable solution. The switch on of the PV system is the culmination of a massive effort by the project team, working with specialists in the renovation and refurbishment of the structure, using innovative methods which have allowed the works to be undertaken above the live station.”