• Saïd Business School, Oxford

    The Saïd Business School is a world-renowned educational facility located close to Oxford city centre. It is jointly managed by the Saïd Foundation and Oxford University Estate Services. Darke & Taylor was tasked with designing an elegant and unobtrusive, yet highly efficient solar PV system.

    Saïd Business School, Oxford

Challenges

Future-proof investment: the initial plan was for an array which would generate 1/8th of the annual electricity demand of the building; i.e. 230 MWh versus 2 GWh annual usage. However, this plan had to be drastically scaled back as a result of the Distribution Network Operator’s (DNO) objections in 2014 [see below].

DNO objections placed the project in doubt: the DNO assumed a ‘worst case’ scenario; i.e. that all of the energy generated would be released back into the grid. Consequently, the DNO would only authorise a 50 kWp array.

Design an elegant yet efficient solar array: the client requested that none of the panels should be visible from the ground level in order to preserve the aesthetic look of the building.

Solutions

Dynamic planning: D&T reworked all the calculations using a proprietary model to determine whether the project was feasible at the reduced 50 kWp capacity. The initial 50 kWp array was sited on the most ‘optimal’ part of the roof, south-facing and unobstructed, to maximise the power output.

Built-in flexibility: D&T had already designed the infrastructure to cope with a significant increase in capacity should the DNO change its mind. In 2017, following a grid upgrade, the DNO permitted an additional 140 kWp which D&T was able to add on without any need for replanning.

Clever engineering adjustments: D&T managed to reduce the pitch of the solar array and used an imaginative counterbalance system to safeguard the visual impact from ground level.

Gallery

“The project went smoothly and enjoyed the full support of the team at the Business School.”

Oxford University Estate Services website

Technical overview

D&T were contracted under its framework agreement with Oxford University to design, install and commission a solar photovoltaic system for this world-renowned educational facility. It was necessary to ensure the system was aesthetically sympathetic and that the install caused minimum disruption to this busy, vibrant, Oxford city centre building.

During the design phase energy consumption was analysed and dynamic solar modelling was used to demonstrate the benefits of the installation. An extensive review of the potential visibility of the array was completed to ensure that the exterior look of the building was preserved. To comply with the client’s requirements, we interfaced the PV array with the fire alarm system in order to enable automatic disconnection in the event of an emergency.

Project details

CLIENTSaïd Business School, Oxford University Estates Services
PROJECT DURATION2 months (2 phases)

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