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Redefining solar technology with RETRACTABLE SOLAR POWER FOLDING ROOFS. Unlocking photovoltaics for waste water treatment plants towards self-sufficient plants.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - HORIZON (Redefining solar technology with RETRACTABLE SOLAR POWER FOLDING ROOFS. Unlocking photovoltaics for waste water treatment plants towards self-sufficient plants.)

Berichtszeitraum: 2020-03-01 bis 2021-02-28

HORIZON is a worldwide unparalleled solar folding roof. It unfolds when the sun shines and automatically retracts into a storage unit afterwards. With its cableway-based lightweight construction consisting of supporting columns set wide apart at up to 20m and more and at a height of 5m, HORIZON allows for unrestricted freedom of movement underneath the roof. Key to the innovation is the lightweight construction, based on the flexibility of the folding roof, which is achieved through the innovative design of a cable mechanism and the use of non-glass solar modules. The lightweight construction must be protected against severe weather condition by a full climate control system. It automatically avoids poor weather (hail, snow, storm) and HORIZON retracts itself into a central garage, also for its possible self-cleaning each time it folds. HORIZON is modular, standardized, and fully scalable – its basic module can be extended freely.
While conventional photovoltaic systems are mounted on a building roof or installed in a free space, the HORIZON folding solar roof tackles a more challenging approach: the dual-use of spaces in the settlement area. With HORIZON, dual-use of spaces can be made on already exploited areas without restricting their primary function. Wastewater treatment plants (WTP) as one of the most expensive public industries in terms of energy requirements accounts for more than 1% of the consumption of electricity in Europe. Although most of the EU objectives concerning water protection have been achieved, most of these ageing plants show unsustainable energy consumption and must be optimized to the maximum and renovated accordingly. The special case of WTP is the perfect pairing and a huge market niche for our solution since there is a limitation of space between the settling basins for usual ground foundations to install another kind of PVs systems and therefore, there is a lack of solar power in the industry. HORIZON is the unique solar power solution that can be implemented in WTPs due to its lower anchoring requirements for the lightweight construction.
HORIZON has proven the technical, functional and economic feasibility of a pilot plant above the ARA Chur WTP, Switzerland. Completed in spring 2018, the solar power plant will generate 643 kWp and produce around 540,000 kWh of electricity per year. It is consumed 100% directly in the WTP, where it covers on average around 35% of the power demand. Thus, HORIZON is a prime example of meaningful self- consumption. The positive side effect of the system: The roofing of the pools reduces the formation of algae and thus the maintenance effort of the WTP. The HORIZON solar folding roof thus opens up a completely new market segment that bridges the gap between solar systems on buildings and solar systems on open spaces. HORIZON is unlocking the full potential of solar power for WTP.
To finish WP2 it was necessary to further optimise the software platform for the master control station and the asset management. This task involved new programming, testing and validating of the automated functions of monitoring, service, intervention, and maintenance.
To achieve the audit for the certification of ISO 9001 norm and ISO 14001 norm was one of the two important goals of WP3. It required to set up the 2019 introduced process management tool and to prepare all procedures and standards. The second goal was to establish and issue the CE-label and the approval to the EMC directive for customers in Switzerland and to prepare it for customers outside Switzerland. It has involved the preparation of the technical approval of the auditing body.
To reach out for further markets we deployed new the sales task force with internal resources and external partners.
An important part of WP4 was the investigation and understanding of the WTP (Wastewater Treatment Plant) economics. We carefully analysed the structure of the segment and the energy related economics. It was part of WP4 to secure and extend the market pull, which was a result of the previous tasks in WP4.
The planned marketing, communication, and dissemination activities where somewhat compromised by the restrictions of Covid-19 lockdown measures of the Swiss government. However, we managed to switch to online channels and contents and where successful an over plan.
The coordination, administration, and risk management of the project was also subject to changes because of the Covid-19 restriction. The Board of Directors met more frequently and there was a closer the usual liquidity and financial planning. Fortunately there was no significant deviation to budgets or results.
The results obtained allow the product to be further developed technically. In the process, the preconditions have been created for more far-reaching industrialization. It is also possible to offer the product worldwide, provided that the right partnerships are established. The technology can also be used to offer further products or to develop new patents. The contribution to a green economy and to the goals of the Green Deal can be further increased. As a company, dhp can continue to grow and internationalize. Value creation in the EU countries can be increased further and beyond the plan.
Dhp has advanced the overall technology level from TRL 7 (Technical Readiness Level) to TRL 9 which led to a rapid market introduction in the target EU countries. It has been possible to raise the system to an industrial level. Automation has increased across all stages of the value chain and costs have been significantly reduced. Our customer segments were systematically analysed and informed in a targeted manner. Significantly more potential customers than planned are interested in the product. The level of awareness was greatly increased, and the interest of new partners was aroused. In the area of wastewater treatment plants, not only were significantly more projects won than planned, but additional benefits were also generated for this segment. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the product was launched in the markets. The EU's Green Deal created ideal conditions for this. It was possible to carry out essential activities related to the Green Deal.
We expect the introduction of the solar folding roof to have a major impact in the EU markets. The target segment of wastewater treatment plants will be able to make a substantial contribution to the achievement of the energy strategy and the 2050 climate targets. This will increase the ecological integration of supply infrastructure across Europe. Municipalities and states can show the private sector how energy-intensive infrastructures can be used twice to partially supply themselves with solar power.
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