Solarcentury favours aesthetics with launch of Sunstation BIPV system

Solarcentury has shown its commitment to the UK market with the official launch of Sunstation, a building-integrated solar PV (BIPV) system which it says offers a complete product offering to homeowners.

At a launch event held last night that saw members of the industry joined by political figures, the company showcased its new sleek, black solar system which has been developed with customer appeal in mind.

Jeremy Leggett, founding director of Solarcentury, said: “There are three things about the product that people want - firstly is that it is solar. All the opinion polls, one after the other, show that solar is outstandingly the most popular energy technology across all political parties in the UK.

“But of course it needs to be economic. The amazing engineering feat to value engineer Sunstation down to the same essential price as a bolt on system - frankly when I heard it was going to be attempted I didn't think it would be possible. But the engineers in Solarcentury have done that with the third thing people want, which is an aesthetic product.”

The launch follows research by Solarcentury last year which found that 86% of homeowners surveyed want new additions to their home to ‘look stylish’. Two thirds (65%) said that if they installed solar panels they’d have to be less visible and not stand out, while a third (32%) said it was important what their neighbours think about new additions to their home.

Sunstation sits in the roof rather than protruding from it like traditional mounted systems, allowing it to offer a more attractive appearance than standard systems. While BIPVs have traditionally been more expensive, Solarcentury has lowered its costs by increasing the levels of automation in its manufacturing process.

Solarcentury also incorporated modern design techniques in the development of the product, using 3D printing as a prototyping tool to explore designs at a fast rate.

The aesthetic appeal of Sunstation was highlighted earlier this year when it won an international accolade at the iF Design Awards 2016.

The product is also accompanied by an installation app for mobile devices, providing a step by step guide to installers. Combined with the fast installation process, Solarcentury expects installations to be completed within a day, with a 3kWp system installation costing around £5,000.

Among the guest speakers at the launch was fashion designer Wayne Hemingway, who was among the first in the UK to install Sunstation, which has been powering his home for six months.

“My wife Gerardine and I were convinced about installing Sunstation on our home because of its sleek profile. It is a new generation of solar panel that integrates seamlessly into the roofline. We are fans of timeless, functional, sustainable design so Sunstation appeals to us because it is not ‘shouty’ and will be there to stay for at least the next 25 years generating clean solar electricity,” he said.

The launch also attracted opposition politicians, with the SNP’s Callum McCaig and energy and climate change select committee chair Angus MacNeil in attendance, as well as shadow energy minister Clive Lewis.

Despite being unable to attend, Lisa Nandy, shadow energy and climate change secretary, said in a statement: “Tonight's event highlights the fantastic level of innovation taking place in the UK’s solar industry. Businesses in this sector make an important contribution to our economy, and to solving the energy and climate challenges we face.”

Susannah Wood, head of residential solar at Solarcentury, added: “We want to help the UK meet its carbon reduction commitments and Sunstation is vital to achieving this because it will get more homeowners switched on to solar, still the most popular renewable energy among the British public.”

Both Wood and Leggett added that Sunstation represented the latest innovation from the company and that more would be spent on developing new affordable and economic solutions for homeowners.