Largest UK Rooftop Solar Installation Completed

INSTALLATION OF THE UK’s largest rooftop solar array has been completed by Custom Solar for their client, Associated British Ports (ABP).

This record-breaking £6.8m project started in October 2019 and saw the installation of a 6.5MWp solar system, utilising 21,000 solar panels across the rooftops of port terminal buildings at the Port of Hull.

The system will generate enough electricity during peak generation periods to run the Port of Hull solely from clean energy. 17 of ABP’s 21 ports now have renewable energy projects attached. The addition of the solar scheme in Hull means the Humber Ports can produce 29% of its energy requirements.

Scale and challenges

Throughout the installation, which took place this year and continued during the lockdown, Custom Solar had to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

Due to the scale of Hull Port’s Shed 16, at 350m long, DC cables had to be placed in specified separation bundles to prevent overheating, allowance for cable voltage drops, in inverter utilisation factor, and special consideration was put in place to the economic balance of cable size to cable losses. A permanent roof pathway was installed to prevent surface damage from the repeated access required to install over 10,000 panels.

Connecting a system of this size to the grid required a long process of communication and information sharing with Northern Powergrid. Custom Solar did simulations grid connections and over 4km of fibre optic cables were laid to connect inverters and the meter at the connection point.

Every environmental effort

Simon Bird, Director at ABP Humber, said: “I’m delighted that the Port of Hull now holds the accolade of the UK’s largest, commercial rooftop array. Our ambition is to keep reducing the emissions that port operations generate, by implementing a mix of clean energy production and investing further in hybridized port equipment. Every bit of effort and investment to lower our carbon footprint contributes to the region’s environmental targets. This scheme and others like it, also help to secure ABP’s energy supply, making great commercial and environmental sense.”

Matt Brailsford, Managing Director at Custom Solar, said: “It’s another proud moment for the Custom Solar team and our client Associated British Ports as we deliver yet another iconic rooftop solar system, obviously this one is in a very special bracket all on its own being the UK’s largest.

“The project was in planning for nearly two years before beginning construction due to the sheer complexity of the system we delivered, this is yet another reason why the system is incredibly unique.

“With carbon reduction, CSR, and keen financial savings on the agenda of all large corporations during such a challenging time, we see solar as the perfect fit.”

The solar array will produce enough electricity (5,501,326 kWh per annum) to power around 1,570 residential homes per year or 2,300 electric cars. It achieves a carbon reduction of 2,915 tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent to the tailpipe emissions of 1,457 fossil fuel cars!

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