Czech utility unveils tech to secure solar panels in unstable subsoil

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Czech utility CEZ Group has developed a new solution for securing solar panels in areas of unstable subsoil such as spoil heaps, waste ponds and other unfirm areas.

It involves using the central section of conveyor belts used in strip coal mines. Engineers from Prodeco, a company from the CEZ Group, have been developing prototypes using retired mining equipment, in particular the steel structure that makes up the central section of the belts.

“We used the central sections of conveyor belts, which offer great advantages: they are robust, because they are designed for heavy-duty operation, and they feature side rails that are now used for transport along the plain,” said the company.

Luboš Straka, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Proedco, said the central sections of conveyor belts offer great advantages as they are robust, designed for heavy-duty operation and feature side rails that are now used for transport along the plain. “This makes these structures fit for any unstable subsoil or subsoil encumbered with an environmental burden, as they only stand on the surface, are extremely stable, and they offer a non-invasive method of building photovoltaic power plants,” Straka added.

If solar panels were mounted on unsettled land with standard structures they would jam and crack, CEZ says. By using old steel structures from conveyor belts, the structure tilts as a whole once the extracted material settles and therefore the stress does not impact the solar panels.

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CEZ says thousands of these modules will be available in the Bílina Mine, located in northern Czechia, once coal mining is phased out. Several pilot structures have already been deployed on a reclaimed area in close proximity to the Bílina Mine extraction area, with experts testing the results.

“The positive news is that the performance of the solar panels did not drop,” said Jan Kalina, head of CEZ Group's Renewable and Conventional Energy Division. “For unstable subsoils, however, it will be more suitable to use technologies other than conventional silicon panels, such as thin-layer panels without silicon cells, in which the semiconductor is applied directly to the glass. The selection of the ideal technology is now the subject of further development.”

CEZ has set a target of building renewable sources with a capacity of up to 6 GW by 2030.

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