Here comes the sun – how Belfast’s premier concert venue harnessed rooftop rays

All news, News

26th April 2023

Here comes the sun – how Belfast’s premier concert venue harnessed rooftop rays

At the time of construction, the installation of solar photo-voltaic power on six rooftops across the Odyssey Complex, including the SSE Arena, was the largest seen on the island of Ireland. The project was delivered ahead of schedule, creating a blueprint that has informed many projects since and showcasing the potential of renewable solar power as a cleaner, greener choice.

From the start, switching on a rooftop solar array at the Odyssey Complex, home to The SSE Arena, was a project that needed something different. It also presented an opportunity to be ambitious and show what is possible for a Funded Solar Solution of this scale. As the project team was told; “If you can do this, you can do anything”.

sse a8 oddysey PR

The challenge - so many panels, so little time

Belfast’s SSE Arena is an iconic part of the city, hosting concerts, sporting events, and exhibitions. With the entire Odyssey Complex, including the arena and interactive science centre W5, already running with renewable electricity provided by SSE Airtricity, in 2016 the Odyssey Trust sought to go further to reduce its carbon footprint.

Working closely with partner Activ8 Solar Energies, SSE Airtricity began putting together a plan for its first solar photo-voltaic project in Northern Ireland – which would involve the installation of 1,400 panels covering more than 2,300 square metres over six rooftops.

From the outset, timing was tight. The need to meet a funding deadline meant the teams worked in a pressurised environment to have the project commissioned and signed off within three months. While solar power generation is becoming more common, it remains relatively new for Ireland and required clear guidance from SSE Airtricity and Activ8 Solar Energies on what could be achieved.

The project team worked closely with multiple stakeholders to find ways to ensure there was no disruption to the SSE Arena, which remained fully operational and welcomed thousands of people daily.

The solution – impeccable timing

At the heart of the success of the project was meticulous planning and a collaborative approach to problem solving and logistics.

Often working within a 30-minute window that allowed for truck access and with no ability to turn off the power at the venue, the coordination was complex and tight. Working with a daily delivery slot at 8am, which then had to turn around recycling and waste, required impeccable timing.

The logistical planning was matched by a detailed design phase, with oversight from Omexom. This included redrawing the building designs by hand and finding a way to balance weight across the roof on nine specially developed rafts. The system also had to work with a medium voltage design to ensure the most efficient energy export possible.

Daily briefings and full transparency across all aspects of the planning built excellent client relationships and ensured flawless execution, with zero disruption. The project ran smoothly as a 10-day installation plan was delivered in only nine days.

The result – an illustration of what is possible 

Our funded solar solution has provided many benefits to the Odyssey Complex/SSE Arena, without making any upfront capital investment has enabled them to significantly reduce their carbon footprint, whilst providing them with price certainty via a long-term fixed price power purchase agreement, that is delivering significant cost savings.

DJI 0351

Considering the scale of the project, 1,400 panels covering more than 2,300 square metres, solar power was delivered on time to the highest standard thus enabling an annual offset of some 200 tonnes of harmful carbon emissions providing a significant reduction in our carbon footprint” 

Brian Simpson | Facilities Manager | The Odyssey Complex and The SSE Arena, Belfast

This 420 kWp system will help SSE produce approximately 320,000 kWhr’s of electricity and offset over 200 tonnes of carbon on a yearly basis.” Ciaran Marron, CEO Activ8 Solar Energies."

Ciaran Marron | Chief Executive Officer | Activ8 Solar Energies

sse MD Oddysey PR

News, Sponsorship

31st March 2023

SSE Airtricity launches a new campaign ‘We are Northern Ireland’ with The Rainbow Project.

Read more


30th March 2023

SSE Airtricity donates additional £1million to Bryson to provide extra support to communities in need across Northern Ireland

Read more