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SIG Building Solutions Supplies Bespoke Solar Canopy Support Structures To Support 122 Kwp PV System


SIG Building Solutions has extended its successful working relationship with Exeter based SunGift Solar through the supply of project specific solar canopy support structures to carry a total of 287 photo-voltaic panels, in three separate arrays, erected in the car park of a modern community leisure centre in the heart of Tiverton, Devon.

The work at the Exe Valley Leisure Centre was carried out in the run up to last Christmas (2023) by SunGift’s own engineers, with the design of the SIG Building Solution’s structures permitting the panels to be installed as a continuous array from beneath; so that there is no separate roof sheeting required. SunGift’s JA 435W panels are spread across three canopies, sheltering 41 car parking spaces, as well as forming a 35 panel array on the main building, while the renewable energy generated meets an impressive 70% of the leisure centre’s annual demands.

Leisure centres with pools like Exe Valley’s six-lane plus learner facility, have been particularly hard hit by the recent surge in energy prices. The 122 kWp of clean electricity generated will help it keep down its running costs for many years to come, while the annual saving in CO2 emissions is estimated at 57.34 tonnes.

Guy Chilvers, SIG Building Solution’s National Sales Manager for Solar Structures, commented: “It’s important for clients to engage with us as early as possible, so they can gain from our expert team’s knowledge – over two decades of experience in designing solar car parking structures – so they can save time and money. For this project, we were able to design and supply a unique guttering system, providing efficient drainage set within the solar structure.

“We offer robust technical support both in-house and through our supply partners, while design collaboration is vital. We work with the client’s civil contractors and electrical specialists to make sure the project objectives are met. Then there is reliability of delivery – deriving from the fact we manufacture in the UK in our own factories, which means we can offer phased deliveries, on time, and in close coordination with the client’s installers. On the Exe Valley Leisure Centre project, the SunGift Solar installation team proved to be perfectionists, which resulted in an exemplary product.”

The scheme, which was completed on time and within budget, is actually part of Mid Devon District Council's multi-million pound long-term decarbonisation strategy, which had already seen air and ground source heat pumps installed at the Exe Valley and Lords Meadow leisure centres during 2022, as the authority moves away from high cost fossil fuels.

Commenting on the new solar PV installation, Councillor David Wulff, Cabinet Member for Community and Leisure at Mid Devon District Council, said: "We are proud to further decarbonise our facilities through this government funding - a series of investments into our leisure centres has allowed us to progress towards our climate ambition of becoming net-zero by 2030 and future-proof our leisure services."

SunGift Solar has built its reputation for quality and service over the past 20 years by working with the most reliable manufacturers and product suppliers, securing the Exe Valley Leisure Centre contract with Mid Devon District Council on the basis of competitive tender.

SunGift Solar’s Commercial Director, Damien Connery commented: "Choosing SIG Building Solutions as our specialist supplier for canopy structures was driven by their exceptional reputation for quality and reliability. Their client service and manufacturing standards have consistently exceeded our expectations, ensuring the success of our solar carport projects, and we look forward to continuing to use them in the future.”

The company’s Business Development Manager, Gareth Walton, confirmed: “SunGift Solar selected SIG Building Solutions as the PV carport frame provider for this project due to their quality, speed of delivery and the frames being UK designed and manufactured, as well as their competitive pricing."

Reflecting on how the project was carried out, the Centre Manager, Nicola Ross, added: "SunGift Solar were great contractors to work with. We are a very busy leisure centre, but they communicated well with us, nothing was ever too much trouble, they completed the work within the timescale, and were clean and tidy."

As well as the declined single row structures similar to the ones installed at Exe Valley, SIG Building Solutions also produces inclined variants, in addition to Double Mono structures able to support up to five solar panels in portrait format, or Double Gull Wing structures to carry half a dozen panels, again in portrait format, to deliver the highest output in the range. The company also has the specialist knowledge and engineering skills to undertake totally bespoke commissions for clients across the country.

The structures are fabricated in Z600 galvanised steel for the posts and rafters to optimise the lifespan of the structure, while they are also low weight compared to rival solutions, which can reduce foundation costs. Then the ability to install the panels from below using low-rise scissor lifts reduces installation time while also lowering risk to operatives from working at height.

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