Q&A | Viridian Solar

Q&A | Viridian Solar

PHPD speaks to Stuart Elmes, CEO of Viridian Solar, about its integrated solar PV panels and the future for the company following its acquisition by roof systems manufacturer Marley. 

Tell us about Viridian Solar, the size of the company, history, location etc…
Viridian Solar is the UK’s leading supplier of roof integrated solar panels.  Founded in 2003, our headquarters are in Cambridge, and we currently employ a team of 22 people.

In 2021, Viridian Solar was acquired by roof systems manufacturer Marley, providing a strong foundation for further growth.

What products and technologies does Viridian specialise in?
Viridian Solar specialises in roof integrated solar PV systems, which are growing in popularity with housebuilders due to their aesthetics, durability, and ease of installation. Unlike traditional ‘on-roof’ systems, integrated solar panels simply replace a section of tiles or slates, becoming a seamless part of the roof design, rather than a bolt-on afterthought.

We supply our Clearline Fusion integrated PV to housebuilders and homeowners across the UK and internationally.  This is also the same technology that sits behind Marley’s SolarTile, which launched in 2020.

Why has Marley chosen to acquire a solar panel provider? Will Marley sell the panels under its own brand?
Solar PV roof systems have an increasingly important role to play in making the nation’s houses and buildings more energy efficient, particularly with the introduction of new Part L carbon reduction targets and the Future Homes Standard. In fact, Solar Energy UK predicts that Part L changes could lead to a five-fold increase in the number of new homes built with solar technology.

We had already established a partnership with Marley back in 2020 to provide the technology for its new SolarTile and the acquisition was the natural next step, combining roofing heritage and experience with our solar expertise.  This means Marley can now offer an unrivalled, single source pitched roof system, including integrated solar PV, for housebuilders and property developers.

The Viridian business will continue to operate as a separate entity, selling its Clearline Fusion integrated PV to our solar distributor and installer customers, who serve the housebuilding sector. Marley will continue to sell its SolarTiles, either separately, or as part of a full solar roof system, to roofing contractors and merchants for housebuilder customers across the UK.

What can Marley now offer SME housebuilders that it couldn’t previously? Will builders be able to buy the solar panels at the same time as the roofing materials?
Marley can now offer SME housebuilders a single source supply for all pitched roofing components, including integrated solar PV.  This means SME housebuilders can specify a full roof system from a single source, that will not only ensure quality, compatibility and compliance with British Standards but also help them to meet Part L carbon reduction targets. 

Using a full integrated solar PV roof system makes it much quicker and easier for housebuilders to include renewable technologies on their developments. 

Is there a benefit to purchasing/installing solar panels from the same company as the roof tiles?
Yes, purchasing integrated solar PV as part of a full roof system offers some significant benefits, including guaranteed compatibility and quality of all roofing components, compliance with British Standards, a single point of liability, reduced contractor risk and less chance of product substitution. The Marley roof system includes choice of roof covering, battens, underlay, all fixings, ventilation, dry fix, and the option to add integrated solar PV, all backed up with a free 15-year guarantee.

What are some of the challenges inherent in installing solar panels? Is there a risk of thermal bridging where the panels meet the roof structure?
There are three types of solar PV, a traditional on-roof panel, or integrated PV system. On-roof systems need to be fitted by specialist PV installers but integrated systems, like Marley SolarTiles and our Clearline Fusion panels, are easier to install and can be fitted by a roofing contractor.

One of the challenges of installing on-roof systems is that walking on the tiles to fix the panels can cause hairline cracks in the tiles and invalidate the manufacturer warranty.  With an integrated system like ours, as both tiles and PV are installed together, it means there is no modification to the roof tiles, securing the warranty.  

Another advantage of both Clearline Fusion and Marley SolarTiles is that they can be fixed directly to the battens, without the need for modification to the standard roof.  The industry-leading wind resistance is achieved without the need for additional timber. They are also compatible with all clay and concrete tiles and slates, so it is easy to incorporate solar PV into any roof design.  This means that on a new build property, 1kWp can be fitted in just 45 minutes.  

There are no thermal bridging concerns because the panels replace tiles or slates and the space behind (the batten space) is ventilated.  Insulation is either between and over the rafters or at the level of the ceiling below the loft space.

How eco-friendly are Viridian panels? What benefits do they offer to the eventual homeowner?
Solar PV panels are an ecological product, as they repay the energy used in their manufacture many times over during their lifetime.  The main materials used in solar panels are glass and aluminium, which can both be recycled, and Viridian Solar is a member of an approved waste recycling scheme. Our Fusion Forest Initiative supports reforestation projects across the world, and we plant a tree for every Clearline Fusion solar panel that is purchased by a customer.

Our roof integrated solar panels generate a similar amount of electricity to the bulkier ‘on-roof systems’ but offer significant aesthetic and maintenance benefits for the homeowner.  With on-roof panels, any future roofing work can be a complex process, involving the use of scaffolding. However, roof repairs can still be carried out with our integrated panels in place.  They also offer much higher wind and fire resistance than competitor products.

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