Image: Absolute Solar & Wind.

The University of the West of England (UWE) has announced plans to increase the capacity of its roof-mounted solar array to 450kWp, plans which it says would make it the largest rooftop array in the UK’s University market.

The system atop UWE’s Frenchay Campus is to be quadrupled in size and will, when complete, comprise 1,700 modules. The system is expected to generate more than 400MWh of electricity each year, 100% of which will be used by the campus.

The university is investing £650,000 in the project, but expects it to save as much as £55,000 each year, equivalent to a payback period of circa 12 years.

UWE’s University Enterprise Zone and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory will benefit from the install and it is hoped the installation will provide more as much as half of the two facilities’ total demand.

Fabia Jeddere-Fisher from UWE said that the design of the system had been reached so that no roof strengthening would be required. Rather than fixtures and fittings, the panels are to be welded into place in order to reduce their load.

“The University is committed to sustainability and energy efficiency, and this project is part of a wider plan to invest in projects that will help the University achieve our carbon reduction goals. As a large organisation we want to set an example for others to undertake similar projects,” Jeddere-Fisher said.

The university is to also develop a CHP system on-site, providing renewable heat to the campus’ buildings including a new Student’s Union and accommodation.

“With both the Solar PV and CHP on site, it puts us in a strong position for demand-side response projects, and on-site energy storage, so that energy generated earlier in the day could be stored to be used at peak times (e.g. 5-7pm) when demand on the UK grid is greatest. This not only will reduce fixed charges to the University, but can have a positive impact on the national grid,” Jeddere-Fisher added.