The first solar panel, which will form part of Europe’s largest vertical photovoltaic project, has been unveiled at the Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS) tower in Manchester.
The panel is one of over seven thousand that will cover three sides of the landmark CIS service tower, the city’s tallest building. It is expected that the 400 ft high array of dark blue solar panels, which will create 180,000 units of renewable electricity each year, will stand out on the Manchester skyline and even become a tourist attraction. The project is due for completion by December 2005.
The ambitious £5.5m solar project, the largest ever in the UK, is being supported by a £885,000 grant from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and a £175,000 grant from the Department of Trade & Industry.
David Anderson, Chief Executive Co-operative Financial Services (CFS), said, “The Grade ll listed CIS building is already a landmark, being the tallest office building outside London, but it is now more than 40 years old and the small mosaic tiles that clad the service tower of the building needed replacing. These solar panels are the ideal solution. They will protect the tower from the elements, enhance its appearance and generate significant amounts of renewable energy.
“CFS has never shied away from environmental issues. All our mortgages are climate-friendly and for some time we have been one of the largest purchasers of green electricity in Europe. Now we are embarking on the use of renewable energy, in addition to this project we also announced last week that we intend to install wind turbines on the top of one of our other City Centre sites - proof indeed that we are committed to fighting the greatest environmental problem facing mankind today – climate change.”
Bryan Gray, Chair of the NWDA said: “The NWDA is pleased to be supporting this landmark project, which typifies how innovative and forward looking this region is. Renewable energy is increasingly important and this solar installation will take the country a step closer to achieving the renewable energy target of 10% of electricity by 2010. As climate change moves up the political agenda, the Northwest is demonstrating its commitment, and leading the way for the rest of the UK.”
David Weatherall, PV Programme Manager, Energy Saving Trust said, “Solar power is an instrumental component of any building refurbishment. We are delighted to be able to support this landmark project and to see CIS take a leading role in adopting low carbon technologies. We hope to see many others following their example by making the most of the grants available under the Major PV Demonstration Programme.”