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Cooling on solar energy booming business

The solar panel business is booming across the globe, with a year-by-year increase of 40%. During the economic downturn, this increase also continued. That the prices of the solar panels and converters strongly decreased due to the crisis and so became attractive to more people, definitely contributed to this, says Loek van den Bercken of SolarNRG, wholesaler and supplier of everything to do with solar panels. SolarNRG supplies its products and services to dealers and installers for both the corporate and private sector. In order to convenience customers, they offer a full package. This comprises panels, converters, mounting systems, cabling, plugs and all manner of related products, but also developing and calculating the systems, the installation and the service.

He says the increase in solar panels is the biggest with businesses. “Many companies are still uninformed or distrustful when it comes to solar panels though. In addition, they often only look at the price tag, while for entrepreneurs there are a number of tax benefits and subsidies possible, making the investment a lot more economical,” he says. “According to the calculations, the investment can be recouped in about seven years. After that, you start to earn money. So it really pays off twice over.” The recovery time has everything to do with the amount of panels, and how well they are oriented to the south. “The more panels you take, the quicker you recoup the costs, because the bigger the systems, the lower the costs per panel. There are some additional costs, which means it’s better to go ahead in one go, rather than adding a number of panels a year later,” Loek says.

Flat roofs very suitable 
Most companies are suitable for the placement of solar panels. Installations can also be placed perfectly well on the ground, but flat roofs, he says, are ideal for the panels. “The chance that you can place them facing due south is bigger, and the installers can reach everything easily. You can place a lot of them, which means companies can recoup their investment faster.” How long does the material actually last? Loek explains that panels normally last at least 30 years. The manufacturer already gives a 25 year guarantee. He says the converters do have a chance of breaking down over time, but so far they haven’t experienced this yet, and they’ve been in business for 12 years. The expectation is that inverters will last at least 15 years, provided the installations have been dimensioned well. SolarNRG works with manufacturers who guarantee a minimum of 5 years, but for a few cents per watt peak extra, you can extend that to 10 or even 25 years. So that’s already longer than the recovery time. He believes many more companies would jump on the bandwagon when they realize what solar panels can actually do for them. “The savings really start on day one already. If companies would stop and think about this, I can't see any reason for not doing it,” he says.

Cooling completely on solar energy
The generated power can, in principle, be used for anything that runs on electricity. The entire office, the elevators, electronic forklifts, air conditioning, drying installations, but also cold stores. “When you see what a cold store uses, you would place quite a number of panels for that, and the usage runs parallel to the yield of the solar panels. When there’s a lot of sun, you need to cool a lot, but that’s when the yield is the highest,” Loek says. As an example he points to Zoutewelle, where nearly 3000 panels were placed on the roof this year, so the fresh produce company can store fruit and vegetables in a sustainable manner. On sunny days, Zoutewelle cools fully CO2 neutral. But Van Geest International and QPI also generate power with SolarNRG panels. “Early 2016, we will start building the biggest solar panel system in the Netherlands, on the roof of the new Food Center at the ABC terrain in Poeldijk.”

More information
Loek van den Bercken

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