The installation is expected to generate 175,000 kWh a year and save over 100 tonnes of CO2 emissions. It is made up of 1,392 glass laminate units and covers 2300 square metres.

The £1.3m project was conceived five years ago and is expected to last at least 25 years.

As King’s Cross station is a grade one listed building, the project faced several challenges in the development of the revitalised roof. The National Heritage was in constant dialogue during the process, and issues from the colour of the cables to hiding unsightly components had to be taken into consideration.

The construction company responsible for the development, Kier Construction claimed that the feat combined the best of Victorian engineering with a modern sustainable solution.

Other challenges included ensuring the panels were blast proof and received as much sunlight as possible. The shadow from the clock tower at the south end of the station gave rise to problems but the developers used innovative solutions – clustering the panels in an unconventional way, to maximise efficiency.

The panels were made by Romag, a company based in the North East of England, but the cells were manufactured in China.

UK solar energy company Sundog Energy oversaw the project and its technical director Martin Cotterell told edie that China’s dominance in the market was a promising sign that solar power was becoming a thriving sector.

Cotterell, who has been in the market since 1995 said: “10 years ago I knew where every solar panel in the country was- I had visited all of them – but now I don’t even know about half the ones in my own town: It is exciting times for solar energy.” 

The installation brings with it marked improvements in the aesthetics of the station. Natural light is being harnessed far more than the previous 1960s roof design allowed and the PV solar panels seem to compliment this.

Exact figures as to the buy-back period of the project are not clear, but it is expected that the panels will generate 10% of the station’s electricity usage.

A screen will be mounted in the station that will show the public real time data of how much energy the solar panels are generating.

Romag managing director Phil Murray said: “King’s Cross is a fantastic example of how renewable technologies can be integrated into the fabric of a building and is testament to what can be achieved to reduce carbon emissions, particularly in a listed building in an urban area.”

Conor McGlone

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