Candidate 4, Intellisol: Perfectly planned for Mercedes in Belgium

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Intellisol has recently connected a solar PV installation at a newly built Mercedes car dealership in Belgium. Herman Daniels explained at Intersolar Europe how Intellisol won the rights to develop a solar PV rooftop system for the group IAM, winning out against four other firms eager for the business. IAM had been looking to create a new Mercedes car dealership in Belgium, but to do so in a smarter, more energy efficient way. Enter Intellisol.

“They asked us to design a PV installation for this dealership, but nobody knew how much energy this building was going to use, so that was the big difficulty,” said Daniels. As a completely new building, unused for one-third of the time, and with a low and decreasing feed-in tariff (FIT) for solar applications, the challenges were vast. “Revenues on the installation were poor, and so we had to stress as much as possible the importance of self-consumption, with storage not yet an option due to safety regulations.” IAM, nevertheless, wanted to cover the entire roof with PV, and wanted 10% discounted cash flow guarantee. To win the trust of the owner, as Daniels puts it, Intellisol made an in-depth energy profile analysis on IAM’s other showrooms, looking at how they used energy generally. The company then made a quarterly hour consumption analysis and projected this on to the new showroom, allied to NASA meteorological data to assess the types of conditions it would be subjected to.

Intellisol also designed an energy usage calculation tool to enable them to strike the perfect balance between energy production, consumption, storage and feed-in. This tool displayed to IAM how a typical dealership uses its electricity, when its peaks are during the day, every quarter hour, and over the course of the year. This intelligent approach to assessing energy usage patterns – and displaying it simply – meant that Intellisol was able to assess that the rooftop PV array needed to only be 81.4 kWp and not cover the entire roof. This system was sized to meet 32% of the plant’s energy needs (using 296 Hanwha Q Cells modules) – taking into account the various peaks and troughs of a typical dealership’s energy use patterns. Only 35.6% of the energy produced was sent back to the grid, which meant a payback time on paper of 9-9.5 years for IAM – with a discounted cash flow (DCF) of 10.2 – 11.4 %.