London’s iconic Tate Modern to install solar PV array

London’s iconic Tate Modern will soon be generating its own renewable electricity after the gallery revealed that it will install an 82kWp solar array this month.

The solar installation is being donated by London-based PV company Solarcentury, a corporate partner of Tate Modern. The solar array will mark a 21st Century makeover for the former power station which last generated electricity in 1981.

The gallery says that the solar array will reduce the Tate Modern’s grid electricity demand and help it achieve its wider sustainability targets. Judith Nesbitt, director of National & International Programmes for Tate explained: “For Tate Modern, installing a solar PV system is another small but important step in making the gallery as sustainable and efficient as possible. Together with our plans for heat recovery and natural ventilation in the new building, we are exploring a whole range of approaches to reducing energy use.”

Frans van den Heuvel, CEO at Solarcentury added: “Becoming a corporate partner of Tate and marking it by installing solar is a perfect opportunity for Solarcentury to bring clean energy to the art world. Electrifying this former power station with its own clean energy system also reflects the global shift currently underway towards cleaner energy sources. It’s encouraging that we’re seeing a wave of solar spreading through London as recognition grows for the benefits of solar, still the most popular clean technology among the British public.”

Work on the solar array will begin in September, with the project expected to be commissioned in October. Speaking to Solar Power Portal, a Solarcentury spokesperson confirmed that the project will be developed under the feed-in tariff scheme.  

The government had repeatedly expressed its desire to see more commercial-scale rooftop installations in the UK – like the proposed install on the Tate Modern – but has recently revealed deep proposed cuts to the feed-in tariff and a deployment cap that the industry has warned is “catastrophic” to the sector.

Jenny Jones, member of the London Assembly for the Green Party has submitted a number of questions to London Mayor, Boris Johnson for Mayor’s Questions on 16 September which build on the concerns of the proposed cuts to solar installs in London. Jones has asked Johnson whether the Mayor is assessing the “potentially very damaging implications on solar deployment in London” of the proposals and whether the announced changes will impact “the viability of developing future PV projects on social housing, on school and on community energy”.

Solarcentury has been involved in a number of high-profile installs across London, including the installation of solar across nearby Blackfriars bridge which generates half of the station’s energy and recipient of the Best Public Space Installation gong at the 2013 Solar Power Portal Awards.