Case Studies

 

Blackfriars – Solar Panels

The improvements being made at Blackfriars station will ensure, not only a better journey experience for passengers and make London’s South Bank and other tourist attractions much more accessible, but also a sustainable station through the installation of the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) roof array in UK.

SECTOR TYPE:

Railway Network

LOCATION:

Blackfriars Station, Queen Victoria Street, London

CLIENT:

Network Rail

PRINCIPAL DESIGNER: Jacobs
PRINCIPAL CONTRACTOR: Balfour Beatty
SUB CONTRACTOR: Solar Century
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The Project

The improvements being made at Blackfriars station will ensure, not only a better journey experience for passengers and make London’s South Bank and other tourist attractions much more accessible, but also a sustainable station through the installation of the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) roof array in UK.

The designers were able to incorporate over 6,000m of PV panels onto the new roof of the historic structure, an area almost as large as Wembley stadiums football pitch.

The PV panels convert the sun’s light into DC electricity. Inverters will then convert the DC electricity to AC which is then used by the station. Over 4,400 solar panels will span the bridge.

 

The Benefits

The solar panels will generate up to 50% of the station’s energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes each year.

Any extra energy produced will be fed back into the grid.

Low maintenance due to no moving parts, and a micro smooth surface enables self cleaning at a 5° tilt. Highly reliable and predictable energy production and longevity as PV panels last 40 to 60 years. In addition to solar at Blackfriars, 18 light pipes reduce reliance on electric lighting, and natural ventilation reduces need for air conditioning.

 

End User Feedback

The new roof at Blackfriars is composed of south facing bays, which will accommodate 4,400 solar photovoltaic panels, combining to form a 1.1megawatt system supplying 50 per cent of the station’s energy needs. Lighting, ticket machines, staff accommodation and office facilities will all be powered through the solar system. And when it’s generating surplus energy, this will be fed back in to the UK National Grid.

 

The Process

Part of the brief for Blackfriars was to build sustainability into its design. The space offered on the roof, with no buildings overshadowing its location over the river Thames, meant it was perfect for solar. Funding was secured from the Department for Transport’s safety and environment fund.

The panels, supplied by Panasonic, were designed to be light-weight to avoid undue load on the bridge. Installation was complex, working over a river and next to live overground and underground railways. Every day 300,000 people move through the Blackfriars worksite Barges used to deliver material to the site took 2,000 lorry journeys off London’s roads.

 

Key Learning Points

This is a flagship project, which demonstrates the potential of solar energy. Solar photovoltaics is the fastest growing energy market in the world and the cost of installing solar is falling all the time. Our experience at Blackfriars will be invaluable as we seek to make the best use of renewables on Britain’s rail network. As a result we’re also putting solar panels on the roof of Kings Cross, as part of a complete upgrade of the station. The potential of micro-generation, on signal boxes and lineside equipment, is being explored on the Western.

Although Britain is considered a cloudy, rainy, country, the solar panels produce electricity by daylight, not sunlight, so production levels remain stable year on year.

The project achieved high sustainability success by using the natural resource of the river Thames to get the vast majority of material to and from the site. A fleet of barges were loaded downriver with everything required for the shifts they are serving, and are tugged up stream to Blackfriars, where cranes on the bridge unload everything required, and offload spoil, used plant, and other surplus material. Barge movements have to be timed to coincide with the tides, as a low tide at Blackfriars would leave the barges grounded.

 

 

 

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