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Building Products December 2017

RENEWABLES AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY DECEMBER 2017 | BUILDING PRODUCTS 67 from blue/black to dark grey. As a traditional building material, the use of slate is often a requirement on new or refurbishment projects in areas where the historical appearance of houses and buildings must be maintained. These stipulations can also be restrictive when making modern improvements and additions. For example, in conservation areas where planning permission is required for domestic solar installations, an application may be denied due to the visual impact of the chosen system. However, an alternative approach is to utilise solar collectors installed beneath the roof tiles. In contrast to solar panels, which often dominate the design of a roof, solar collectors in natural slate are completely undetectable once installation is complete. One of the additional benefits of slate is that it efficiently absorbs and stores the sun’s energy. By installing these solar collectors beneath the roof tiles the heat is transferred into the system and used to provide heating, hot water and even pool heating. The efficiency of the collectors is such that as much as two thirds of a household’s hot water can be generated by the system. This significantly reduces the amount of energy required to meet the demand and results in substantial reductions in fuel bills. Solar collectors are typically modular and so can be easily scaled to meet the exact requirements of the project. The installation is simple and adaptation to the existing heating system is minimal. Additionally, installing this invisible solar thermal roofing has no effect on how the slate performs and as such, does not require any special or additional treatments. Capturing solar energy in this way allows the system to be installed in a wider range of locations around a property. The versatility of solar collectors also allows the systems to be fitted vertically. Installing the solar thermal collectors behind the cladding or beneath terraces saves space around the building and, as with the roof mounted collectors, they are completely invisible once installed. While solar collectors are a relatively new idea in the UK, this type of installation is common in continental Europe. For example, in 2006, regulation changes in Spain introduced a requirement to install solar thermal collectors in all new buildings and roof refurbishments. The design possibilities for natural slate both as a roofing and cladding material are broad and a bespoke finish is achievable by taking advantage of the naturally varying range of colours and textures on offer. Although slate as a material has remained largely unchanged for centuries, it is still used to create a contemporary look and replicate the historical aesthetic of an area. The use of slate for these heritage projects aligns perfectly with the solar energy absorption and transmission properties of the material, making it ideal for use with solar collectors to generate renewable, clean and environmentally friendly energy. www.cupapizarras.com/uk


Building Products December 2017
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