Solar panels for ski areas


From pv magazine France

France-based off-grid solutions provider Sunwind has developed a PV module that can be used at ski stations, ski lifts and resorts at high altitudes in mountainous areas.

“The mountain is in our DNA,”§ the company's founder, Xavier Duport, told pv magazine France. “The high mountain environment is conducive to the production of solar electricity, due to greater irradiation, less atmospheric pollution, and a stronger albedo effect which brings 5 to 10% of production in more about the winter months thanks to the snowpack.”

For the modules, the company uses a special encapsulation process based on a composite multi-layer that gives them the exact shape of the polycarbonate side windows they replace.

“It all started with the Serre-Chevalier ski resort, in the Hautes-Alpes region, where we solarized a ski lift station for the first time, by replacing the polycarbonate canopies with our semi-rigid photovoltaic panels called eV+, which are five times lighter than a framed glass module,” Duport said.

The 20%-efficient panels measure 1,020 mm x 2,000 mm and utilize PERC solar cells. The products can be used in PV systems with a power range from 7 kW to 12 kW depending on the surface size.

“With a dozen ski areas equipped in France with eV+ panels, we have opened up a new market with ski lift manufacturers,” he said. “We are partners of the Italian Leitner and the French group Poma, which is now taking us internationally. Poma offers the installation of eV+ solar panels as standard in its catalog of ski lift stations, as well as when retrofitting existing stations. The cabins are small off-grid networks, equipped with eV+ panels and a battery.”

Sunwind currently encapsulates the panels at a production line operated by Italian subcontractor Solbian, but it hopes to set up soon its own production equipment.

“We have started a research program with CEA Liten and the Rhône-Alpes region in order to develop our own encapsulation line, which could initially reach 40 MW to 50 MW per year,” said Duport. “We want to offer a 100% European, or even 100% French product within two years.

Sunwind does not want to limit itself to ski resorts and aims to offer its eV+ panels to the building world.

“We also plan to exploit a market that is still little exploited, that of the facades of industrial buildings and that of photovoltaic noise barriers,” said Duport.

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