New Bournemouth Student Centre Goes Solar

The new £10.5m Student Centre on Bournemouth University’s main site, the Talbot Campus, incorporates a solar photovoltaic (PV) array designed and installed by Reading-based Photon Energy Ltd.

The installation is one of a number of measures that will enable the building to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating.

Photon Energy installed the solar PV array on the south-facing pitched roof of the storage building to the rear of the main seven storey, concrete framed Student Centre building, which is the most carbon efficient building on the campus. The Student Centre has been designed as a hub where students can meet informally for study-related activities and a variety of social activities, and with long opening hours may be expected to require a lot of power.

The choice of solar PV modules was dictated by two factors; efficiency, which was necessary because of the limited roof area available, and colour. Photon Energy selected Sunpower SPR-E20-327-BLK monocrystalline modules rated at 327W each, using 84 units for a roof area of 140sq m.

Hoare Lea, the mechanical and electrical contractors for the project, required an electrical output of 27kWp using high efficiency 18 - 20% modules guaranteed for 90% maximum power output over 10 years. The Sunpower black modules were specified for aesthetic reasons, to blend with the cladding on the main structure.

The modules are attached to the roof using K2 Systems fixings and a pre-installed custom made steel framework. The two inverters, used to convert the DC electricity generated by the solar PV modules into AC power compatible with the National Grid and the electricity supply system within the building, were Goodwe 15K-DT and Goodwe 12K-DT.

Installation took two full weeks in total, with up to four operatives on site at any one time; and the finished installation was commissioned in December 2014. Photon Energy’s project engineer Abu Luswata said: “Our operatives did particularly well on site as they had to cope with frosty winter conditions, and of course were working to the highest health and safety standards.”

The client was Bournemouth University Higher Education Corporation and the main contractor, Willmott Dixon, is a major client for Photon Energy. Due to a smooth working relationship on the Student Centre project, the company has been awarded further work at Bournemouth University, to design and install a 95kWp solar PV system for the new Fusion Building currently under construction. This contract is due to commence in the third quarter of 2015.

Owen Craister quantity surveyor at Willmott Dixon Construction Limited said: “Working with Photon Energy on the Bournemouth University Student Centre was a very positive experience and we are extremely pleased with their work. Any issues which came up were quickly rectified to our satisfaction and we look forward to working with Photon on the next project.”