Work begins on King's College chapel PV panels installation

A worker walking crossing wooden bridge over the cathedral

Work is underway to install 438 new photovoltaic panels on the roof of the historic King’s College Chapel, University of Cambridge.

We worked with the College to develop a strategy to decarbonise its operations by 2038, reducing the College’s carbon emissions by more than 23 tonnes each year. The new panels, combined with existing panels installed on the Wilkins Building and Old Garden Hostel student accommodation, will meet the Chapel’s energy requirements and reduce the annual electricity demand of the College’s main site by approximately 6%.

The panels are part of the renovation of the 1950s lead roof of the Chapel, which was no longer watertight. The College recognised a once-in-a-generation opportunity to install the PVs, as the Chapel roof is the single largest potential opportunity for renewable electricity generation on the main College site.

Arrays of photovoltaic panels will be fixed to both of the north and south slopes of the Chapel roof and will generate an anticipated 123,000 kWh/y which will feed into the College’s on-site electricity supply. The total potential peak output of the panels is 100 kWp.

Encouraged by the College and Caroe Architects, we developed and defended the technical proposals, rationale and content for the planning submission which were intensely scrutinised by SPAB, Heritage England and the Diocesian Advisory Committee given the unique historical value of the chapel.

This work with King's College Chapel continues our longstanding relationship with the college, continuing from previous projects including Cranmer Road Student Accommodation and Stephen Taylor Court.

An exterior of a cathedral

© Max Fordham LLP

Two people standing on the rooftop overlooking city skyline

© Max Fordham LLP

“This is an historic moment for King’s College Chapel and Britain’s architectural heritage. It is only one step on the road towards cleaner, greener energy but it is a potent and inspirational symbol of our commitment to being good stewards of our environment.”

Provost Dr Gillian Tett

“Whilst the economic input of the solar panels are valuable in monetary terms, its main public benefit is in the carbon saving over a period of many years. It must also be seen as part of the College’s drive to make its buildings and especially the Chapel more effcient and as a tangible example of how the Chapel can and should be contributing to the moral and ethical wellbeing of this place of learning.”

The Reverend Dr Stephen Cherry, Dean of the Chapel