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Work set to start on Swansea University’s innovative renewables scheme

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RDM Electrical & Mechanical Services is set to begin work on a highly innovative project – the first of its kind in the UK – to install a comprehensive raft of integrated energy-saving, sustainable technologies at Swansea University’s Bay Campus on behalf of Swansea University.

The South Wales-based building services provider is working with its sister company EFT Consult to provide design of the cutting-edge project, which will encompass a commercial rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) scheme, a carport solar PV scheme, a battery energy storage system (BESS) and electric vehicle (EV) chargers.

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A bespoke control system (Schneider Microgrid Controller) will then control the distribution of PV generated power between the BESS, EV chargers, and the adjacent School of Management building.

The project is being funded by Active Building Centre (ABC) in partnership with Swansea University and the SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre. It will demonstrate how a large site can control its impact on the grid by storing energy generated from renewable sources, drawing down from the grid only when power is cheapest or least carbon-intensive and releasing energy to power the buildings and the university’s EV fleet during peak grid times.

The University’s Y Twyni building, located centrally on the Bay Campus, has been chosen as the best site to locate the 135kWp solar PV system, which covers 540m2 of roof space. The system is also supplemented by the installation of an additional 6kWp system mounted above a uniquely designed carport, suitable for up to five vehicles.

The energy generated by the panels will then be sent to the 216kWh of battery storage, which is a stand-alone bespoke ISO container adjacent Y Twyni building. The power is distributed by the microgrid controller and diverted between the BESS, the five new EV chargers and the School of Management building.

Cleverly, the microgrid controller will divert energy to where it assesses the need to be greatest at any given time. The controller uses a cutting-edge web-based user interface that communicates real-time energy use, savings and CO2 emissions data. The system’s algorithms also enable optimisation of the site’s energy demands, managing the flow of energy between its various constituent parts.

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As part of the project, RDM is also responsible for the design and construction of all civil and structural elements, which include the new steel car port and associated parking bays, a new roof mounted safety handrail system to Y Twyni building, external steel roof access, earthworks, foundations and landscaping.

The objective of the scheme is to enhance the sustainability of the University’s buildings by reducing the site’s dependence on expensive and unsustainable fossil fuel energy sources. It is hoped that the project can be used as a standard-bearer for similar use of renewable technologies across the UK.

The project’s design, undertaken by RDM and EFT Consult, is in its final stages, with work set to begin on-site in the spring of 2022. The anticipated completion date for the project is the end of summer 2022.

Chris Phillips, Contracts Manager at RDM Electrical and Mechanical Services, said: “It is fantastic to be able to work on this unique, innovative project, implementing new systems and technologies in a way that we hope will be a beacon to future developments. The innovations included in the scheme fit perfectly with the University’s aims to enhance its sustainability and reduce its carbon footprint by generating its own renewable power.

“RDM and EFT work symbiotically to achieve a holistic approach to building design, installation and maintenance. Our aim is always to engineer our projects for the future. We do this by utilising the latest research and development and ensuring that energy-saving technologies and measures are incorporated in harmony with the health and wellbeing of the occupants of each building project.”

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