A solar power system built into in the new glass roof of Kings Cross Station will provide at least 10% of station’s electricity needs, while only costing an initial £1.3m to purchase and install.
The station, located in North London, just turned on the installation of 1,392 solar cells that are “embedded into glass laminate units that now form part of the two new vaulted roofing structures spanning the main platforms.”
This 240kW system that spreads out over more than 2,300 square metres of the ‘grade 1 listed building’ is projected to produce over 175,000kWh of electricity a year — that will save around 100 tonnes of CO2 every year.
The solar array was installed as part of Kings Cross Station’s huge overhaul that was designed to “restore the original 1851 facade of the building, renovate the ticket hall and the main train shed roof, and create a new public square in front of the station.”
The contractors on the project, Kier, the Sundog Energy solar system planners, and ESB’s installation services had to adapt to work with the variability in dimensions that almost always comes with working on old buildings, and of course had to work with strict safety procedures in mind, since they were working directly over a live rail line.
The glass laminate that makes up the panels also had to be engineered to be much stronger than ordinary solar installations in order to survive any potential terrorist bomb attacks.
By overcoming all of these challenges requiring technical precision, the founder and technical director of Sundog Energy, Martin Cotterell, said that this project clearly shows that renewables can play a great role in the enocation of historic buildings, even when those buildings are in very busy and densely-packed urban areas.
“The sheer scale of the installation has presented many major technical and aesthetic design challenges from day one and there has been no margin for error as the work had to be undertaken while the station remained fully operational,” he said. “We believe the project combines the very best in modern design, technical excellence and sustainability with the grace of one of the UK’s most iconic grade 1 listed buildings.”
The Kings Cross renovation and installation of a solar system is only the newest in a recent series of renewable energy installations on the rail network — it’s dwarfed by the enormous installation being constructed on top of Brackfriars station. That station, located in central London, will be more than 6,000 square meters.
There are still more than 4,400 panels waiting to be installed on the roof of a railway bridge located there that spans the Thames — that will be done by the end of 2012.
This new rooftop system will be able to provide more than half of King Cross station’s energy needs.