SDC Verifier has developed an affordable method for installing solar panels on large flat roofs. Thanks to its smart design, this self-supporting system is suitable for installation on weak roofs. Thus no roof goes unused.
As we face the energy transition, the generation of sustainable energy is becoming increasingly important. This calls for the large-scale deployment of solar panels. Fortunately, the Netherlands has plenty of roofs, but while large industrial buildings in particular have suitable sunroofs, they are for the most part not designed to bear the extra weight of heavy solar panels. That is why only 6.5% of these roofs are currently fitted with solar panels. SDC Verifier makes it possible to exploit the potential of roofs in the Netherlands even if they are weak. ‘Our solar panel system is self-supporting, so the weak points of the roof are avoided,’ explains CEO Wouter van de Bos.
The solar panels form part of a frame-based structure. It can easily be deployed on two rails that rest on pads on the stronger parts of the roof, such as on the sides and above pillars. The panels are linked by cables that allow them to be self-supporting over the entire width of the roof. The cable is flexible enough to conform to the contour of the roof, even if it is curved. Thanks to its minimal thickness, the cable casts as little shadow as possible on the solar panels.
Currently, the focus is increasingly on optimising the production process. Smart Energy Systems makes this possible. Wouter: ‘The subsidy enables us to create an assembly line, and from this we will be able to learn how and at what cost we can assemble the system efficiently.’ The final system design is suited for mass production. ‘Once the feasibility study is completed, we will continue to use the assembly line as a small-scale location for production and development. This is always useful when small modifications have to be made.’ Besides setting up the assembly line, the publicity surrounding this campaign is equally important. Wouter: ‘The entire infrastructure is now up and running and it is interesting to make contacts in this way.’
Extra lightweight solar panels
Rotterdam is the industrial centre of the Netherlands and is therefore a highly suitable location for this project. The solar panels are shipped from China to the Netherlands and arrive at the port of Rotterdam. ‘We are also pleased to be located near to Delft, because we work closely with the Technical University there,’ says Wouter.
The profiles for the system are made in the Netherlands. ‘At the moment we are also engaged in talks with a Dutch company about extra lightweight solar panels. The lighter the panels, the less load on the roof.’ Lightweight solar panels have not appeared on the market before now, as panels have needed to be a minimum weight to ensure they are not blown away when the wind passes beneath them. ‘With our system the panels are secured, and no longer require ballast weight to keep them from blowing away.’
The introduction of the solar panel system makes sustainability a little easier and cheaper to achieve. The time needed to install it on the roof is shorter, since it is already assembled in the factory. The government subsidy scheme is also important. It is expected to decrease every year. ‘From the moment that sustainable energy is no longer a matter of choice, and the subsidy has expired, we will be able to offer our solar panel system at reasonable cost.’