Galliker Transport AG, a Swiss firm that specializes in transport and logistics, hired the engineering firm EES Jaggi Bigler AG to solve a couple of problems. The company needed a shelter for the employees’ cars, helping to keep them out of the bad winter weather that is customary in Altishofen, Switzerland. At the same time, the company wanted to find a sustainable solution by installing a new parking structure that would double as an energy plant.
The fact that the employees’ cars are parked under this structure made its durability all the more important.
The project managers faced two challenges: weight and weather, as noted by Ernest Hübscher, Vice General Manager in charge of channel management at the engineering firm EES: “In the construction phase of the plant, we met some challenges such as the high static loads (wind and snow), strict hail protection requirements and mastering the optimal design in terms of length and weight.”
A solar carport on the roof of Galliker Transport provides protection for 2000 while meeting all of the building's energy needs.
The design had to be made of steel or aluminum so it was corrosion proof. And it had to take into account the fact that the plant stretches for over 100 meters, so it had to be rugged enough to bear the high static loads of snow. The fact that the employee’s cars are parked under this structure made its durability all the more important, as a main goal of the project was to protect the cars from the weather—not cause additional problems from a failing roof structure. Hübscher said that by using loadable modules and a lightweight system, “We were able to completely meet these requirements.”
Weather and weight
The engineering team used an innovative integrated design that has proven to be both light weight and offer enhanced weather protection. To weatherproof against the elements the modules had to meet high resilience requirements. The modules used are able to withstand heavy static loads of up to the snow load standard of 5400 Pa (113 per square foot). Complying with the standards of hail resistance class 3 was a mandatory requirement of the building’s insurance, and the modules passed the test.
EES Jaggi-Bigler chose ZNShine turnkey solar modules for the job. The grid-connected rooftop system that measures over 5100 square meters includes 2721 monocrystalline modules, both 255W and 300W connected to SolarMax string inverters.
The project was financed by the Galliker Company who saw the solar structure as a good investment despite not having any special rebates or feed-in tariffs to take advantage of.
What may be Switzerland’s largest solar carport produced nearly 720 MWh in its first full year of operation, able to cover 100% of the energy needs of the building. From May to December 2013, the installation produced 544,900 kWh, an output that exceeded the predicted production by 10%.
The electricity more than meets the needs of the transportation company, and in addition, the installation also provides shelter for 2000 vehicles. Galliker Transport has found that the solar installation meets its objectives while returning solid financial rewards.
Written by Anne Fischer, Managing Editor, Solar Novus Today