Greenbuddies Tips – February 2022

Greenbuddies project in Belgium

Greenbuddies take part in PV plant on multiple roofs

Our Greenbuddies team was working over 9 months on a site of a major PV project in Belgium. With a total capacity of 23 MWp on various roof levels, on carports and surface, the investor – a global player in the steel market, ranging from stainless, electrical to specialty steel – will consume at least 97% of all the energy produced directly at their premises.

Our team has built dozens of megawatts on rooftops across Europe, but this time we had to – together with our customer – overcome a whole new set of obstacles. You can judge for yourself.

Workers on Greenbuddies project site

Obstacles the Greenbuddies team had to overcome:

  • Long DC string routes (as the inverters are only located in two nests on the ground next to the substations) – the longest single string route is 400 m

  • The PV panels are located on the roofs of variously tall production halls (building heights between 15 m and 35 m)

  • Planning required early preparation and daily coordination between the manufacturing company – EPC – the installation partner (our responsible construction manager), as the hall had to be closed for short periods of time while the material was being lifted onto the roof by crane

  • The cables were even routed over two cable trays connecting the production halls – the work was carried out from forklift platforms

  • Due to the nature of the production area, a variety of machines were used, ranging from a rotating telescopic handler, to car cranes and all-terrain platforms

  • The safety of the work was at a very high level. Often the roofs had to be worked in harnesses for safety reasons

  • The work took place over a period of almost 9 months (May 2021 to January 2022) as the roof cladding was being refurbished at the same time

Diagram of roof PV plants

The PV installation in the province of Limburg has a total capacity of 23 MWp with a yearly energy production of 20.3 GWh. This will result in 7300 ton of avoided CO² emissions, which is equal to the emissions of 5900 average households.  For this project the investor has received financial support (green certificates) from the Flemish government.

Thanks to this successful completion, we were awarded a very similar project in Italy at a truck manufacturer’s factory.

Floating PV – a renewable option for otherwise unused water masses

Alongside ground-mounted and rooftop PV systems, floating solar systems are the third and newest pillar of the global solar PV market. In 2020, there were already around 350 operational systems in 35 countries with a cumulative capacity of approximately 2.6 GW. By 2025, it is estimated that there will be around 10 GW of such systems worldwide. The largest systems are being built in Asia, and this year a 320 MW floating PV park was commissioned in China, roughly ten times the size of the largest PV array in the country to date.

Europe is still lagging, although there are countries closer to harnessing water for photovoltaics, such as the Netherlands. Here there are several systems with a total of 10 MW and very recently 2 new solar parks have been completed, one with the size of almost 30 MW and one over 40 MW in Sellingen.

Illustrative photo, source: keyscience.org

Germany includes floating photovoltaics among its priorities for innovation support – so-called innovation tenders for floating solar power plants will also take place in April. In total, the German government will support 50 MW in this round, but in smaller systems of up to 2 MW.

Although photovoltaic systems on water require an investment of around 25% more than systems on land, floating photovoltaics have several undeniable advantages:

  • PV plants do not occupy any land, except for the limited space required for the electrical cabinet and grid connection

  • There are no fixed structures, so their installation and removal after their useful life is easy

  • partial covering of the tanks can reduce evaporation of water.

  • natural cooling from the water surface raises the efficiency of the panels, claimed to be up to 8-10%

  • a floating power plant can be built as a fixed plant or with trackers, so the panels can be rotated to follow the sun, and the purchase of a tracker for floating power plants represents a less substantial increase in price (thanks to a simpler design and construction), while the energy gain can range from 15 to 25%

Floating project in the Netherlands, photo courtesy of Floating Energy

Both freshwater areas and the sea are suitable for photovoltaic systems, but in the Czech Republic they will mostly be built on flooded coal mines. This economy is also moving away from coal, so a number of water bodies have been, are being and will be created, some of which will be used for recreation, but other sites will not relinquish their role as an energy source. To grasp this opportunity, we have teamed up with Floating Energy, a Dutch company with experience in building floating PV systems in its home market, and together we are preparing to work with some major Czech players to develop floating power plants on water bodies on the scale of several tens of megawatts.

Greenbuddies Charging was on hand to help Sonnentherme Lutzmannsburg turn the sun into electricity!

The Sonnentherme Lutzmannsburg is one of Europe’s leading baby and kids spas. With numerous slides, a park-like sunbathing landscape in the outdoor area with dozens of attractions and natural shade, the Relax World and sauna area, however, young people and adults also find their fun at the Sonnentherme.

In order for the Sonnentherme to be able to efficiently use the available parking space for energy generation, it was decided to build a photovoltaic carport system. The facility comprises a total of 454 covered parking spaces, which not only produce green energy, but also provide protection from the sun and precipitation for the vehicles. We are very proud that we have not only built the largest PV carport in Austria, but also one of the largest photovoltaic plants in the country overall.

Overview of Sonnentherme Luzmannsburg – Installation of carports, solar plant and EV chargers 

The challenge for the Greenbuddies Charging team, on behalf of the company E-König from Bad Völslau, was not only building the project, but also organizing and executing the complete project planning, purchasing the required material, along with participating in the negotiations for the building permit and finally, completing the project in several construction phases, all DC electrical work included.

Despite several difficult circumstances, such as the retroactively prescribed ecological drainage system, COVID-19 lockdown in Austria, Suez crisis and the related delays in the supply chain of suppliers, ongoing operation of the Sonnentherme during the holiday season and the need for full parking capacity, we can look back on the project with pride. All the difficulties that are unavoidable in a project of such magnitude and degree of difficulty were solved to the customer’s complete satisfaction and the project was thus completed on schedule before the end of 2021. Thus, we have once again shown that we are the “Unstoppables”!

At this point, we would like to thank all our partners for their cooperation and completion of the project and hope for a fruitful and successful cooperation on future projects.

DATES & FACTS:

  • Construction period: March to October 2021, full operation from December 2021.

  • Rain gutter system designed by Greenbuddies Charging, which looks very elegant and suitable for the carports

  • Futuristic LED lighting system designed by Greenbuddies Charging incl. realisation and installation

  • Realisation of the prescribed feed-in limitation to 50kW: Supplier company Gantner.

  • Coverage: system covers approx. 30% of the electricity demand of the Sonnentherme and the Hotel Sonnenpark 

  • Own consumption: approx. 99% 

  • Total investment: approx. € 2.5 million 

  • This project was co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund