Radio City, Ayrshire

Project: Radio City, Ayrshire

Listed Scottish community building Radio City has installed 240 Kingspan Renewables solar thermal vacuum tubes to meet its extensive hot water needs, whilst becoming a model of sustainability in the local town of Kilbirnie, Ayrshire.

Once a former art deco cinema, Radio City provides much-needed facilities for locals, including a gym, radio station, café, IT, office spaces and beauty rooms. The 25m2 installation of HP200 Thermomax solar thermal tubes was part of a large retrofit project to cut carbon emissions and running costs, which also included fitting solar PV panels to service the building’s electricity.

Market-leading Thermomax tubes were specified to effectively feed into a pre-heat system to help meet up to 70 percent of the annual hot water needs of the multi-use building, including showers and sinks in the gym area. The solar thermal installation is expected to contribute 12.98MWh to the building’s hot water system annually and help Radio City avoid more than 3,500kg of carbon emissions each year.

The tubes were specified and fitted by Glendevon Energy, Kinross-based suppliers and installers of solar thermal, solar PV, biomass and heat pump technologies. A key concern for Sales Director Jamie Adams was meeting strict planning regulations in place for work on listed buildings. He explains: “It was a specific planning requirement that the solar thermal collectors did not impact on the view of the building from key vantage points, so we needed to find a solution that would effectively meet the hot water needs of the building without damaging its appearance.

“We chose Thermomax vacuum tubes because the smaller surface area of their manifolds make them much less obtrusive than competing products, yet they still deliver optimum performance – even in wet and windy weather. They provided the ultimate solution we were looking for, integrating discreetly with 2300the look of the Radio City building whilst offering the highest level of efficiency needed to meet its demanding hot water requirements.”20

Thermomax tubes from Kingspan Renewables are specifically designed to operate in Northern European climates, making them the ideal choice for Radio City. Up to 50% more efficient than traditional flat plate equivalents, they deliver an unrivalled transfer of solar energy into heat, as the vacuum inside each tube insulates the system from outside influences, such as cold weather. This results in quality performance all-year-round, with the vacuum tubes collecting the sun’s energy quickly and efficiently, ensuring solar-heated water is always readily available.

Cameron Holroyd, Kingspan Renewables Managing Director, says: “As the need to cut both costs and carbon emissions becomes increasingly clear for all building projects, from small to large, it is great news that Radio City has been able to do both using our market-leading HP200 Thermomax vacuum tubes. Not only do they meet stringent planning constraints by complementing the building’s appearance discreetly, their unique ‘plug and play’ design makes for easy system maintenance over their long 25-year life expectancy.

“The installation of the solar thermal tubes at Radio City is a great example of the integration of Renewables into a retrofit project – helping deliver significant cost and CO2 savings both now and in the future. For larger-scale installations like this, these savings are increasingly important as changes to the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme come into effect – with participating organisations liable for government charges to cover their emissions.”