A unique installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) louvres has been completed and commissioned at the Bishop Centre retail park, close to Taplow Station on the A4 (Bath Road) between Maidenhead and Slough. What differentiates this system from all others is that Photon Energy designed and installed a solar PV installation using bespoke glass laminates on the front elevation of the building.
The 188 Romag monocrystalline glass laminates are installed in 47 bays along the front of units two to nine, mounted on an aluminium carrier system and have a maximum DC power output of just over 12 kWp.
Triada Vlasakoudi, one of the project engineers responsible for the work said: “There were a number of significant challenges with this installation, but the finished look is just what the architect at the 3DReid practice wanted for a quality retail park. We were very pleased to be able to complete the installation within the extremely tight schedule.”
Firstly, the frames for the louvre system had to be assembled on the ground, and DC cables for the glass laminates were run through the frames and the torsion tubes. A telehandler was then used to lift the assembled frames into position. This was not an easy task as each frame weighed 120kg and measured around 3m x 2.5m. Fitting the frames into the glulam (engineered wood) fascia was a very difficult operation as the tolerance around the frames within the glulam openings was just 12mm at the sides and bottom and 20mm at the top. The operation was further complicated as the operatives had to work at a height of 8 metres from a scissor lift platform.
Once the laminates had been put into position, the DC cable containment for the wiring of the louvres was installed behind the frames above the soffits of the timber canopy construction. The wiring connections were completed after the soffits were installed, which also limited the access.
In addition to the very visible PV louvres, the full installation also included roof mounted solar PV modules on the roof of the TK Maxx store and on the adjacent unit occupied by Nike. This involved the installation of 160 monocrystalline Perlight PLM-250 modules with a total power rating of 40kWp, to give a maximum DC power of 26.5kWp in unit two with the remainder in unit three. Annual carbon savings are expected to be 17.55 tonnes for unit two and 6.22 tonnes for unit three.
K2 Speedrail/Speed clips were used for all roof mountings and Goodwe inverters were used throughout.
The main contractor – Photon Energy’s client – was Bowmer and Kirkland, who reinstated the existing Bishop Centre for owners Land Securities to form a new £20m shopping centre consisting of 10 units with over 400 car parking spaces led by a 5110 sq metre Tesco store.
Simon Masters, Bowmer and Kirkland’s site manager said: “This was the first time I had worked with the system which Photon Energy installed at the Bishop Centre Taplow, and it has been a pleasure. Photon Energy is a professional contractor in terms of its management and fitters and I would not hesitate to work with them again. The project manager Triada Vlasakoudi was always at the end of the phone to answer any queries as was any of the team. I look forward to working with them in the future.”
Photon Energy won the work through a competitive tender, after an extended consultative process and preliminary work with the 3DReid architectural practice. A single aluminium frame complete with eight louvres was installed for final approval by the architect, main contractor and project owner prior to the start of the roof work in late April 2104.
Simon Brambles from 3DReid said: “Photon Energy brought its specialist expertise to deliver a well-designed bespoke PV louvre system for the Bishop Centre project in Taplow. The engagement with ourselves and the design team from the outset and through to installation ensured delivery of a sustainable and practical solution that met the original brief’s objectives.”