In 2017, EvoEnergy was appointed by contractor, Sir Robert McAlpine, to install a 183 kWp solar PV system on the new state-of-the art, $1bn US Embassy in the Nine Elms area of London.
Expected to complete in early 2018, the joint venture with US based contractor, B L Harbert, features the latest in architectural design and security including a bomb-proof exterior, anti-ram barriers and a surrounding moat. The nature and importance of the building make it one of the most iconic PV installations in EvoEnergy’s portfolio.
The PV installation itself was exceptionally complex due to the flat concrete roof being filled with a number of vents for the buildings AHU and CHP systems, meaning that a design had to be made to utilise the space in between the existing structures.
With the client asking to fill the roof with PV to maximise the site’s green credentials, the remaining space allowed for a total of 576 SunPower 327W panels; using a high efficiency module meant that more output could be produced on the limited roof space compared to using traditional panels.
Fixing the panels to the concrete roof also required a bespoke frame, designed and supplied by SunFixings. To angle the panels up by 5 degrees, the framing system required upstands to be fitted prior to finishing the roof surface with a waterproof membrane and insulation. Paving slabs were also added to provide additional ballast for the system. With the roof surface designed to be uneven for drainage, extra attention and care had to be given by the installation team to ensure all of the upstands were erected to the same height across the entire roof.
9 x SMA20 inverters were also installed on the roof, using bespoke mounting frames.
A 3-man team worked on the PV installation periodically over 12 months, working around various stages of the build. Large equipment such as the panels was hoisted to the rooftop using the service crane, where smaller items were transported to the roof via the building’s goods lift.
Given the importance of the building, heightened security clearance was required for the team to access the site each day, which also provided further complications bringing equipment on site, which all required security clearing and booked in advance.
The PV system was commissioned in June 2017 with the US Embassy building expected to be fully completed and occupied in early 2018.
Building a New London US Embassy
The existing US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London, was built in the 1950’s and its old fashioned design, along with potential security risks, urged the US to announce plans to build a new Embassy back in 2008 during the Obama administration.
Situated next to the Battersea power station, the building’s costs are expected to soar in excess of $1bn, making it the World’s most expensive Embassy.
The 12-storey building, covering nearly 500,000 square feet, is equipped with darkened bomb-resistant glazing to keep the internal temperature at a cool level. A wavy sail-like structure will also surround the building, which too has photovoltaic cells embedded to generate green energy alongside the main PV array on the rooftop. Several other hi-tech energy efficiency measures have also been integrated in to the building’s design to create a carbon-free footprint for the Embassy.
The Embassy grounds have been landscaped with a half-moon shaped moat, in addition to natural boundaries including walkways, parks and vegetation.