Hanwha Q Cells completes 500 kW array at HQ for self-consumption

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Hanwha Q Cells has decided to “practice what it preaches” by installing a half-a-MW array at its headquarters in Germany. The project demonstrates how commercial electricity consumers can shave their peak and overall electricity demand with a PV installation by becoming PV “prosumers.”

The company tapped a local company to carry out the installation and it used around 2,000 of its own “Made in Europe” modules for the array. The power produced will be used in its office buildings and production facilities.

The Hanwha Q Cells carport array has an east-west orientation, designed to produce electricity over the course of a day, rather than a sharp peak in production – which occurs in south facing installations that are designed to maximize yield. The PV producer says the east-west orientation, “doubles the performance density compared to a south orientation,” in a statement released today.

“Producing and consuming our own solar electricity makes a lot of sense for us, both in economic and in ecological terms,” Hanwha Q Cells COO Andreas von Zitzewitz.

Along with delivering savings on its electricity bills, Hanwha Q Cells hopes the 500 kW array will demonstrate the vast potential of solar PV for commercial electricity consumers. With power being consumed on site, PV arrays can reduce the volume of “expensive” electricity ordinarily being used, help shave peak consumption rates and also provide a hedge against future electricity price hikes.

“Hanwha Q CELLS just like any commercial or industrial company benefits from self-consumed PV electricity in two ways: Firstly it sustainably decouples the operating costs from constantly rising electricity prices and secondly it reduces the expensive peak demand costs by lowering the company’s peak consumption.” Hanwha Q Cells estimates that is array will save 8% on peak electricity costs.

Payoff remains despite new self-consumption tax

PV for self-consumption is an attractive model in Germany, with FITs having been dramatically reduced in recent years and solar installation and component costs some of the lowest in the world. These economics have been dealt somewhat a blow with the German government, in its revision of its EEG legislation announced in March having imposed an effective tax on self-consumed PV power.

As of August, households and businesses that install a solar system will have to pay 30% of the EEG surcharge on each kWh of PV power consumed on site. This equates to approximately €0.021/kWh (US$0.026). The self-consumption tax is set to rise to 35% of the EEG surcharge in 2016, and 40% in 2017.

Hanwha Q Cells has advised pv magazine that its 500 kW carport array was completed before August 1, therefore avoiding the €0.02/kWh self-consumption tax. A spokesman for the company was quick to add: “the economics of PV self-consumption systems still works in Germany, even with the fee in place.”