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Mypower the chosen solar PV designer and installer for Gloucester Cathedral

In September this year Mypower was awarded the prestigious contract to install solar PV Panels on the roof of the Nave at Gloucester Cathedral. Principle Architect for the cathedral, Antony Feltham-King was highly impressed with Mypower’s submission. "Your submission was the most technically developed, and provided an excellent range of options for further discussion with us."

This project is very special as it’s the oldest cathedral in the world to install solar PV. Mypower successfully tendered for the work offering the cathedral various options on panel and inverter solutions. Being a Grade I listed building, it is important that the solar panels are virtually invisible to the surrounding area. The roof of the Nave is the ideal position as the parapet wall crenellations and pinnacles hide the panels from ground view however the height of the wall means during the winter months there would be some shading issues. We felt that it was right we should highlight these shadings concerns to the cathedral so we presented animated graphics showing shading changes throughout the day and at different times of the year to demonstrate the anticipated yields for different types of panels and inverters. This allowed the Cathedral to find the right balance of capital cost and electricity yield whilst ensuring the panel design closely matches the roof, with aesthetics overriding costs.

 

The inverter decision was an easy one, the SolarEdge optimisers and inverters are perfect for this type of shading issue and their fire safety features a major benefit. The panel decision was harder, the REC TP model was top of the list with the shading, however thanks to the price support and flexibility of local supplier Wind & Sun a last minute switch to the REC BLK2 model was made to improve the look… and boy it was worth it – click here to see the photos

Anne Cranston, Gloucester Cathedral’s Project Manager said: “The installation of solar panels on such a beautiful and beloved building as Gloucester Cathedral  has raised interest locally and nationally so it’s been fantastic that MyPower have been taking such great care with the work. Since starting on site, the team have identified a way of hiding the ballast beneath the panels which our structural engineer is delighted with.  And they’ve managed to accommodate both the physical restrictions of the site and the fact that we’re a place of worship as well as a busy destination for visitors.”

On the 25th October the first of 150 solar panels was laid by Rev’d Canon Celia Thomson. The 38kW solar array will reduce the Cathedral’s energy costs by 25%, helping it deliver the Church of England’s ambitious “Shrinking the Footprint” campaign which aims to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

Using a non-penetrating fixing system, designed and manufactured locally by Sunfixings at Bourton on the Water, the panels will sit on top of the lead roof above the great Nave which was built almost 1,000 years ago.

Ballast, using concrete lintels provide weight to the fixings and prevent uplift of the panels. In the original structural and engineering designs, prior to Mypower’s tender, these ballast blocks were to sit fully exposed below the solar panels. Not happy with this arrangement, Ben Harrison set out to find an alternative solution. Ben spent hours of unpaid time finding a solution which would provide the security the structure needed and not compromise the beauty of this ancient historic building (even though the structure would not be visible form the ground). This was above and beyond what was required of Mypower but this is exactly what Mypower ethos is… honesty, never giving up and always after perfection.

With the help of Moose PR we’ve had some great local and national media coverage on BBC Points West, BBC Radio Gloucester, The Telegraph, The Express, the Mail and The Times, both in print and online.

November saw Mypower install the remaining panels ready for the blessing and celebration day.

On Monday 21 November, the Very Reverend Stephen Lake, Dean of Gloucester switched on Gloucester Cathedral’s new solar panels for the first time. To mark the occasion, the Dean blessed the panels from the 100 foot high nave roof and the Cathedral’s famous tower was illuminated green. A celebratory reception was also held to thank supporters of the project.

Dean Stephen said:
“Gloucester Cathedral has a great tradition for combining the old with the new. By embracing this very modern technology, we are celebrating God’s gift of creation and making this remarkable building a greener and more sustainable place for future generations."

Ben Harrison, managing partner of Mypower, said:
“From the first moment I stepped onto the roof of this incredible building, I knew it was going to be a challenging but thrilling project to be involved in. Everyone has worked together in full cohesion to deliver a common goal, to protect the historic building and create a green energy source for the long-term sustainable future of the Cathedral. We are all incredibly proud of what has been achieved - it has been the opportunity of a lifetime.”

The 150 solar PV panels will generate 27,500 kW of energy a year, enough to power seven semi-detached houses or make 250,000 cups of tea. Energy costs will be reduced by 25 percent, saving £190,000 over the next twenty five years.

This is a unique solar PV installation for Mypower as our usual customers are those with agricultural buildings and commercial properties. For more information on how your business can significantly reduce its energy costs please contact us.

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