Kingspan’s Stormont solar array meets unique challenges

Kingspan’s Stormont solar array meets unique challenges

Home of the Northern Ireland parliament in Belfast, Stormont has recently undergone a major refurbishment, including a completely new plumbing and heating system that provides catering and washing facilities on a daily basis for over 1000 people. The building itself has changed little over the years (it was opened in 1932) and therefore presented an interesting design and installation challenge. 

This article was originally published in issue 18 of Passive House Plus magazine. Want immediate access to all back issues and exclusive extra content? Click here to subscribe for as little as €10, or click here to receive the next issue free of charge

(above - A solar thermal array consisting of 360 Kingspan DF100 tubes was installed on the flat roof facing south at Stormont, the Northern Ireland parliament building)

As a prominent public sector institution, renewable, low carbon energy had to be specified as a required element of the new building envelope. While the huge expanse of flat roof space – orientated north/south with minimal shading — lent itself ideally to solar thermal panel technology, the calculation of the maximum annual hot water demand (bearing in mind possible seasonal discrepancies) was critical. When it came to demonstrating the green credentials of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the hybrid system would not only have to deliver sufficient hot water, but also give the expected return on an investment, entirely funded from the public purse.

The partnership of leading renewables manufacturer, Kingspan Thermomax (part of Kingspan Environmental Ltd), mechanical consultancy Bennett Robertson Design and installation contractor Alternative Energy Ireland (AEI) provided all the necessary expertise and resources to design, specify and build the solar thermal hot water system. At the 2016 Action Renewables Association Awards, the Northern Ireland Assembly won first place as the best renewables installation within the education, healthcare and public sector.

Flexibility was a key requirement for the solar array solution because of the structural challenge presented by the 85-year-old flat roof. High winds had to be factored in because of the location of the building, meaning that solar panels were laid effectively flat, at 2 degrees to the horizontal, as opposed to standing at the usual 35 degree angle to the roof. The compromise in energy output was deemed acceptable when set against potential wind damage to the collectors.

Managing Director of AEI, Steven Bray said. “We always choose to work with Kingspan as we find the quality of the products are second to none plus the fact that their technical staff are involved with the project from initial specification right through to completion. They are always available and able to deal with any question or on-site problem. Typically, you will find Kingspan Thermomax product being used on the more ‘interesting’ projects because of its flexibility and reliability.”

For further information visit

Last modified on Wednesday, 19 October 2016 21:29