F&S Solar energizes 15 MW solar facility at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport

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F&S Solar has finalized a 15 MW solar park at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. The German project developer realized the plant with the Hamburg-based investor, Blue Elephant Energy and a local company.

According to F&S Solar, the project was developed under the frame of the Dutch SDE + program, which grants incentives to commercial and utility-scale renewable energy projects. It came with a number of special requirements, including the need for the solar modules to be positioned in such a way as to not blind airplane pilots.

Furthermore, the company revealed that the planning work for the solar PV project, in which the airport was intensively involved, began in autumn 2016. “As a developer, we had to prove through an expert opinion that the orientation of the modules precludes a glare effect on the air traffic due to reflected sunlight at any time of the day,” said Georg Schmiedel, managing director of F&S Solar.

This was verified by calculations relying on geometric models. “This mainly affects the inclination and orientation in relation to the landing and takeoff of the aircraft,” explained a spokeswoman to pv magazine.

The modules used are also designed with special anti-reflection coatings so that they absorb incident light and reflect as little as possible. The shadows caused by landing or takeoff aircraft are said to be negligible, according to the company’s statement.

The new owner, Blue Elephant Energy, estimates the solar park’s production to be around 1,050 kWh per installed kW, per year – which is a “rather high value” for northwest European conditions. A small handicap for the park, however, is that no drones are allowed to fly at the airport to take thermographic photographs of the facility.

The project engineers have installed 125,000 thin film modules at the facility. According to F&S Solar CTO, Uwe Czypiorski, the high efficiency and favorable low-light behavior were the decisive factors for choosing this product.

In weak light, for example, F&S Solar sees an efficiency advantage of 3% to 7% in thin film modules. “In addition, US products are not burdened by minimum import prices and are currently cheap because of the dollar exchange rate,” emphasized the CFO.

The soil conditions also presented special challenges. As the area is below sea level, the ground softens here very quickly. “For example, we had to set more and longer posts to get the necessary strength in the ground,” said Czypiorski.