Plan to cover West Ham’s London Stadium with ‘solar membrane’
The London Stadium is set to have its roof covered with solar panels in a bid to help it “go green” and generate its own energy.
Plans have been revealed to wrap the 2012 Olympics arena – now home to West Ham United– in a multi-million pound solar membrane to cut carbon emissions and harness the sun’s rays.
The scheme is being spearheaded by the stadium’s owners, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) - a body set up after the 2012 Games to oversee the continued regeneration of the area around the Olympic Park.
LLDC’s latest budget document estimates that the project could cost about £4million over two years, but would more than pay for itself after just five years, thanks to an estimated generation of roughly three million kilowatts of power each year.
It adds that work on the scheme could begin in “mid-2023”, with power starting to be generated potentially before the end of the coming financial year in April 2024.
A contract for the project’s installation was put out to tender in December, with the contract description stating that the “high-profile building offers a fantastic opportunity to showcase cutting edge technology”.
It adds: “The key driver for the project is to significantly reduce carbon emissions, in line with a commitment to reach a ‘net zero’ carbon position by 2030.”
The idea has won praise from London mayor Sadiq Khan, who said: “I always support innovation in our city, I always support [people in] our city being pioneers for issues. London is the sporting capital of the world.
“Let’s wait and see how these ideas develop - but I’m really glad to see West Ham winning at last.”
Stuart Dossett, senior policy advisor at environmental think tank Green Alliance, said: “It’s great to see such an iconic building, the scene for so much national pride, leading us into our greener future.
“Solar can be built quickly to produce cheap and clean energy to power our buildings. The sooner we expand the use of renewables, the sooner we can slash bills and carbon emissions”.
City Hall has agreed to contribute £45,000 towards a feasibility study and business case for the project. The exact components of the membrane will be decided in the feasibility study, but one solution could involve the use of a sheet-like material, with photovoltaic panels embedded within it.
A London Stadium spokeswoman said: “The provision of energy through solar or similar technology has been explored previously but was not possible with the technology available at the time. Recent developments suggest that the previous barriers – which included the weight loading required upon the roof – may now be addressable.
“The purpose of the feasibility study is to explore this and quantify the cost and benefits achievable. The outcome of this will determine how self-sufficient the stadium could become in the future.”