Sunkid conveyor belt with Photovoltaic Gallery: Taking stock after a year
Zillertal-Arena (Gerlos/Austria): Production of electricity by the Sunkid conveyor belt with Photovoltaic Gallery exceeds expectations.
About a year ago, the Photovoltaic Gallery at Isskogl in Gerlos was launched. Looking back, the numbers look quite impressive: the system produced around 27,000 kWh of electricity over the last 12 months. With power requirements of the system itself at only 16,000 kWh, this means “overproduction” of power of about 70%. The system can thus provide self-sufficient supply. The remaining volume of 9,000 kWh of eco-power can be fed into the power grid. This means cold hard cash and a contribution to speedier depreciation in addition.
Sunkid conveyor belt as a green power plant
Zillertal-Arena (Gerlos/Austria): Photovoltaic Gallery at Isskogel produces power for own needs and for the power grid.
With a worldwide market share of about 70 percent, Sunkid GmbH from Imst is the leader in passenger transport on conveyors for ski areas. The team gathered around both Executive Directors - CEO Emanuel Wohlfarter, M.A. and CTO Herbert Zopf, eng. - has been working on the continued development, as well as new areas of application of Sunkid products for years. From the beginning, the company placed the highest importance on protecting the environment, with utmost energy efficiency in all applications.
This first-ever project was implemented in the Zillertal-Arena and has now been presented to the public. "The new conveyor belt Gallery enclosure equipped with solar panels produces more green power than it actually requires. The excess electricity can then be provided to the power grid", explains Manuel Kammerer, project leader. Sunkid CEO Emanuel Wohlfarter, M.A., anticipates worldwide demand for the new Sunkid system, due to the quick return on investment costs, as well as the extremely low operating costs. David Kammerlander, Managing Director of the Gerlos Ski Lift Center, is happy that with this investment, the Zillertal Arena has once again displayed its innovative strength and technological leadership in particular in the area of environmentally-friendly energy production. The conveyor belt Gallery enclosure, developed in 2001, protects passengers from snow, rain, wind, and cold - while offering a clear view of the outside. And for the lift operators, the Gallery offers plenty of advantages - particularly allowing quick and easy startup even in the worst weather and snowfall conditions. .
The solar panels produce more power
The solar panels produce more power than the conveyor belt requires
The 590 ft long (180m) Sunkid conveyor belt consumes about 16,000 kWh of electricity per year for normal operation (from 9am to 4pm daily). The 74 solar panels installed on the Gallery enclosure provide a total output of about 18.25 kWp, corresponding to 22,000 kWh per year. kWp means peak kilowatts, and is the unit of measurement for the peak output of solar arrays.
The conveyor belt is able to power itself independently with the 22,000 kWh average output. The extra 6000 kWh of green energy can then be fed to the power grid. This corresponds to about 27 percent of the array's power output.
Positive energy balance
"Made in Austria"
Production of the solar module is done by PVT Austria. Therefore, the complete know-how including the hardware is nearly totally “Made in Austria.” For customers, this means a guarantee of top-level competence and quality. The solar module is laminated onto the Gallery using a sandwich construction method with two polycarbonate lenses each two millimeters thick. This provides a high level of functional reliability and optimal protection, or minimal contact areas for wind and snow. In addition, the arched structure allows for the adjustment of the cell alignment to the changing position of the sun throughout the year. The crystal-clear carrier material provides a view outside during the ride, giving a pleasant feeling of space. At the same time, operating personnel has an unobstructed view of the conveyor - a plus for safety in the Gallery.
The function, advantages and economics of photovoltaic technology.
A photovoltaic array generates electricity by converting incoming light hitting the solar cells into current. These solar cells are manufactured from quartz sand (silicon) and traces of other elements. Multiple solar cells are connected by small metal leads to form one solar panel in a housing. Multiple solar panels are then connected in series. The energy they produce (direct current) is converted into alternating current by means of an inverter. The solar energy is then usually passed on to the power grid.
Solar power is one of the most environmentally friendly means of generating electricity. It produces no noise, no emissions and requires no fuel aside from sunlight. The production of solar cells generally uses recycled materials, including some waste materials from other industries.
Depending on location, orientation and the specific technology, sunlight can produce between 80 and 120 kWh of electricity per square meter of solar panel. A 9 - 10 m2 solar array can generate approximately 1000 Watts of electrical power. This means energy gains of 800 to 900 kWh per year, depending on location.
Optimal alignment of a solar array in our latitudes involves placement at 30 degrees roof slope facing south. If the system deviates from this alignment by 45 degrees toward southwest or southeast, the energy gains drop by 5 to 10 percent. Even a perpendicular surface (solar face: 90°) still harvests up to 70 percent of the potential electric power.
In Austria, the national Green Energy Act regulates pricing for electricity surpluses. Yearly renewal of the Act determines the amount refunded for energy contributions to the national power grid. The amount of the allowance varies depending on the location of energy installations. In order to receive the subsidy, 100 percent of the electricity generated by a solar array must be routed back into the grid.