New £5.5m energy-efficient look for CIS tower

THE landmark Co-operative Insurance Society tower in Manchester ? the city&#039s tallest building ? is to get Europe&#039s largest vertical array of solar panels. It has been confirmed...

THE landmark Co-operative Insurance Society tower in Manchester ? the city&#039s tallest building ? is to get Europe&#039s largest vertical array of solar panels.
It has been confirmed that three sides of the service tower will be clad with photovoltaic panels designed to convert daylight into electricity ? pictured as an artist&#039s impression. The panels will create 180,000 units of renewable electricity each year – enough energy to make nine million cups of tea.
The ambitious &#163 5.5 million solar project, the largest ever in the UK, is being supported by a &#163 885,000 grant from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and a &#163 175,000 grant from the Department of Trade & Industry.
It is expected that the 400 ft high array of dark blue solar panels, which will work regardless of the weather, will stand out on the Manchester skyline and even become a tourist attraction. Work will commence shortly and it is expected to be complete by the end of next year.
Mervyn Pedelty, Chief Executive of Co-operative Financial Services, said: "This is a landmark development, in every sense of the phrase. For Manchester, the UK and for the whole of Europe it demonstrates that solar panels are viable almost anywhere.
"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 need 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 the greatest environmental problem facing mankind today ? climate change. 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 renewables generation."

Bryan Gray, Chair of the NWDA said: "We are delighted to be supporting this high profile project which typifies how innovative and forward looking this region is.
"Forty per cent of Europe&#039s energy use is associated with buildings, but old building stock is renewed at only two per cent per annum. Therefore, renewable energy and energy efficient solutions for existing buildings will be key to delivering national and regional targets in this area.

"As climate change moves up the political agenda, the North West is yet again shining a beacon and leading the way for the rest of the UK."

Energy Minister Mike O&#039Brien said: `This solar installation on Manchester&#039s tallest building will demonstrate in the most visible way just how important renewable energy is becoming in our every day lives. It is proof of its growing appeal throughout the country. The growth and development of the solar power industry will help take us a step closer to achieving our renewable energy target of 10 per cent of electricity by 2010, and to tackling the threat posed by climate change.

`The ultimate potential that solar offers, even in our climate, is substantial. It is therefore important to maintain a position whereby the UK can take advantage of the technology as the market develops. To that end, the Government has committed over &#163 40 million to supporting solar projects such as this one and many others throughout the UK.`

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