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Solar cell system to be examined at the NEL building

Photo of  Skjalg Aasland on a great roof

“Is it here at Herøya one of the biggest solar cell projects in Norway is to be established?” asks an eager Skjalg Aasland of Herøya Industripark AS. Sweco should count on it.

“Here, only the clouds obscure the sun. This ought to be the ideal building for solar energy,” reckons Skjalg Aasland, Vice President Facilities and Development at Herøya Industripark AS.

Herøya Industripark AS has launched a pilot project that will reveal whether it is possible and profitable to construct a solar cell system on the roof of the building where NEL will be launching its pilot system for electrolysis production  in 2021. If everything goes according to plan, the system will produce enough energy to run one of the NEL production lines.

“The roof of the NEL buildings (formerly REC 1 and 2) covers an area of around 15,000 square metres. We do not know how much of the roof area can be used. This is one of the issues that will be cleared up during the pilot study that we have ordered from Sweco,” says Aasland.

Sweco to find the answers - both technically and financially

“We will be assessing whether the building is suitable for producing energy using solar cells, we will come up with suggestions for technical solutions, and we will be looking at the economy of the project,” explains project manager Stian Bredesen of Sweco. He has been involved in a number of solar cell projects, is doing a Master’s degree on energy storage and worked with energy solutions at Vestsiden ungdomsskole, one of the most energy-efficient schools in Norway. “We will be starting on this work after the summer, and the report will be completed within a couple of months.”

portrait photo of Stian Bredesen

Stian Bredesen, Sweco, will be carrying out the technical and financial calculations for the project. Photo: Sweco.

Sweco has developed expertise in energy production from solar cells, and the company has consultants from all the specialist fields needed for complete analysis of such projects. The company will now be looking more closely at the roof structure and assess whether the roof is able to accommodate the collective weight of the ballast and the solar cells.

Simulation and estimation required

Moistureproofing and roofing also have to be assessed, along with a few fire safety issues. “In other words, we will have to look at Fire Brigade access, escape routes, fire requirements for insulation and the flammable time for load-bearing structures. We will also be assessing the actual energy production, simulating the solar cells and estimating their annual production. This study also involves looking at the economy of the project.”

One of Norway's biggest projects

Solar cell technology has gradually matured and increasingly large projects are being constructed all over Norway. In Grenland, similar systems have been constructed at the Skagerak Arena and the Down Town shopping centre. “Although these facilities are large, they are small compared with the solar cell system that might be constructed at Herøya Industrial Park. The roof of the NEL building is just under 15,000 square metres in area. The actual solar cell system may be between 10,000 and 11,000 square metres, so we are talking about one of the biggest solar cell projects in Norway,” explains the project manager.

Energy straight into production

“NEL’s energy consumption for production will be high, so we are expecting the energy produced by the solar cell system to go straight into the production and running of the building. NEL’s high energy consumption, in combination with such a large expanse of roof, means that this is a beneficial project in all respects,” reckons Bredesen. “We can feed the energy directly into production here and avoid the cost of outputting the energy to the grid.”

Important for NEL

NEL will be producing hydrogen electrolysers – equipment that produces hydrogen, which is part of the green shift.

“When the system is fully up and running on a sunny day, it will provide enough energy to run one of the NEL production lines,” explains Aasland. “This is fantastic, because NEL’s production will require a lot of power. NEL, with its hydrogen production products, is an important element in the green shift. It will be absolutely vital for them to be able to use local green energy in their operations.”

Crucial pilot project

“This project will be a pilot for us at Herøya Industrial Park. If it is a success, we will have some experience that we can use on other buildings at the park.”

Herøya Industrial Park has between 40,000 and 50,000 square metres of roof space. “Maybe we could use a number of these roof spaces to produce energy. As far as we’re concerned, both the financial aspect and the signal effect are important. We want to take on a proactive role in the green shift. That is why we ordered this pilot project,” concludes Aasland.

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