Paira Daiza, voted Europe’s best zoo in 2018 and 2019, is home to more than 7,000 animals. Its millions of annual visitors will soon be able to park their cars under the largest PV carport in the world, in Brugelette, Belgium.
The plant’s 62,750 panels will span a surface area of 104,000 square meters, covering 80% of the facility’s 7,000 parking spaces. It is expected to generate around 20 GWh per year, or enough to cover needs of the zoo, which is located in Belgium’s Wallonia region.
Some of the surplus electricity will also be used to power electric cars at 80 planned charging stations, with an additional 800 terminals expected in the near future. The rest of the unused electricity will be sold back to the grid.
The installer, Perpetum Energy, began building the project in July. Commissioning is scheduled for next spring. As part of the Gent-based company’s efforts to limit carbon emissions during construction, the load-bearing wooden structures will be certified by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) for their relatively low carbon footprint.
The special purpose vehicle developing the project, Green 4 Power, is 30% owned by Perpetum Energy and 70% by Integrale, an investment company and insurance services specialist. In May, the two companies inaugurated an 8,800-panel project at the Carmeuse site in Aisemont, near Namur.
The scarcity of land in some European countries is driving demand for solar parking shades, which are advantageous from a community-acceptance perspective because there is no need to modify the land on which they are installed, as with ground-mounted PV systems.
In April, for example, Neoen completed a 16.3 MW solar carpark in Corbas, in France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. The €19.1 million project, awarded under the French government’s solar tender scheme, was built in just five months and now feeds 19.5 GWh of electricity into the grid per year, at a rate of €0.102/kWh. Production costs were about 50% higher than those of standard ground-based power plants, said Xavier Barbaro, general manager of Neoen.