The French company Ciel & Terre International is the first company to introduce a replicable solution for PV systems on water. In an inspiring reinvention of their business, they have been designing, engineering, financing, and managing floating solar photovoltaic plants for commercial, industrial, and local government institutions since 2011. In Japan alone, 50 MW of power was installed with their Hydrelio Technology in 2016. Their Hydrelio technology is a modular, sustainable, and standardized solution that can unlock the potential for the floating PV market segment. It requires no agricultural land, and has a neutral or positive impact on reservoir water quality. The solar panels benefit from the natural cooling effect of water, which increases the energy harvest of the installation. Hydrelio takes advantage of unused bodies of water for energy production, while maintaining water quality by reducing algae bloom and reducing evaporation. Its main components are fully recyclable. The jury recognized the important contribution this technology can make to the world-wide energy transition in this niche market.
Hanwha Q Cells, based in Seoul, South Korea, and Thalheim, Germany, is a large photovoltaic manufacturer dedicated to producing renewable energy around the world. Providing state-of-the-art efficiency, the Hanwha Q.PEAK RSF L-G4.2 360-375 module also has a strong focus on product sustainability and system integration. It demonstrates the potential of an holistic approach for this component. The frame is reinforced steel instead of aluminium, which reduces the carbon footprint of the module by about 15 percent. A newly developed mounting concept reduces installation time, and saves labour costs, as well as installation and fixing material, by 80 percent. The module has a split junction box that significantly reduces the material necessary for cabling. With these innovations, the cost of installation, and of the entire system, is minimized. The jury commends the combination of innovative design with a strong focus on product sustainability. Reduced energy payback time through essential improvements in installation and materials complements its use in the utility scale business.
SMA Solar Technology is a German solar energy equipment supplier that develops and manufactures solar inverters for photovoltaic systems with grid connection, off-grid power supply, and backup operations. The SMA Sunny Tripower CORE 1 is a free-standing string inverter that was designed and optimized for usage on commercial rooftops and ground mount systems. The new design can be quickly installed by two people and doesn’t require dedicated support structures. It eliminates the need for combiners on both DC and AC sides. The new active cooling system allows its unique design with easy access to all components and the DC and AC input areas. In addition, this inverter introduces effective control functions to facilitate PV integration in the power system. The jury was convinced by the technical design and the improved product handling. Both have a high impact on the overall economy of this innovative solution. It is also fully certified, and has a 20 percent cost reduction per watt compared to existing SMA products.
Goldbeck Solar designs, constructs and services ground-mounted PV and rooftop systems across Europe. The company was founded in 2001 as a subsidiary of the construction group Goldbeck GmbH. The photovoltaic system on the Hellsiek landfill-site in Detmold, Germany, functions as a seal for the landfill in a project that combines conventional waste management and climate protection. This is the first time a PV system has been used on such a large scale to seal a landfill. The hybrid solution conserves resources, and is more cost-effective than conventional installations. The landfill is sealed by the PV system, preventing seepage and contamination of clean rain water in the landfill. This type of renewable energy generation is a landscape and ecologically-friendly option for supplying renewable energy. The construction also enables double use of the landfill site for energy production. The jury was impressed by the high level of innovation, and the use of standard and cost competitive PV components in an innovative and important application. This scalable solution helps to prevent over 7,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.
The German company Next Kraftwerke operates one of the largest Virtual Power Plants (VPP) in Europe. It aggregates 4,200 medium and small scale power-producing and power-consuming units with a combined capacity of nearly 3,000 MW in its VPP Next Pool. More than 650 MW of photovoltaics are included in the trading portfolio. By digitally networking thousands of renewable energy installations all over Europe, the VPP Next Pool bridges the intermittency gap. The VPP can forecast the output and track the status of each single installation with the help of live data from the installations. By scaling up Next Pool over the last five years, dramatic enhancement of the quality of PV forecasting for the photovoltaic share was achieved. Next Kraftwerke added live data to the equation, and the central control system collects data from every networked unit through interfaces with over 15 inverter manufacturers. The jury awards this project for the relevance of its business model in designing regulatory frameworks that will help establish renewable energy at high penetration levels as it develops the future of global energy delivery.
This project was developed at the request of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) by the University of Hohenheim and their technology partner Phaesun. Phaesun specializes in sales, service and installation of off-grid photovoltaic and wind energy systems in Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. They have developed a system that uses solar energy for milk cooling that is based on conventional DC refrigerators being modified into smart icemakers. This is done by aligning cooling-power demand with the hourly solar energy resource, and by substituting batteries with thermal energy storage in the form of ice. The ice-maker produces 12 to 16 kilos of ice per day. A storage volume of 50 kilos of ice will last for four days. The system allows for raw milk to be stored overnight and transported to collection centers without compromises in quality that would otherwise lead to milk rejection and income loss. The potential social and economic impact of the project and its design as a business case were of special importance to the jury in rewarding this project with the award. The system is especially designed for the needs of farmers in rural areas.
RAM Pharma was established in 1992 in the King Abdullah II Industrial City in Amman, Jordan. Their core business is the manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceuticals. The solar process steam generation project at RAM Pharma is comprised of 18 LF-11 Fresnel collector modules. It provides steam at 160°C, and operates parallel to an existing boiler. The system can provide up to 340 MWh per year and reduces the consumption of diesel by more than 35,000 liters. It was developed by Industrial Solar. Industry consumes around one-third of the total global primary energy demand. Of that, about two-thirds of the demand is for process heating. Thus, sustainable solutions for industrial heat supply – like solar process heating – are needed for a transition towards manufacturing without carbon emissions. This project has proved that concentrating solar thermal collectors are viable in commercial applications, and is the first direct solar steam generation project for industrial process heat in the MENA region. The jury was impressed by the industrial application potential, and believes it foreshadows and demonstrates how valuable the solar steam for industry will be in the future.
Founded in 2004, SUNFarming specializes in investment controlling and project development for capital investors, and the realisation and active support of PV projects for commercial and privately owned electricity systems. SUNfarming´s technology delivers economically attractive and resource-efficient food and energy production in a single location. Fifteen agro-solar greenhouses have been installed on the campus of the North West University in South Africa. The project provides knowledge transfer and skill development for students and citizens in the community, and is a solution for the inclusion of PV into agro-solar substructures for large-scale food and energy plants. The global development potential, high social benefit including job creation, and replicability were all factors for the jury’s decision to award this outstanding solar project.