Embedded solar PV generation is often retrofitted in industrial buildings due to its immense cost and carbon benefits. However, new buildings and greenfield property developments stand to benefit greatly from incorporating solar PV into their designs as well.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the costs of solar PV modules have fallen over 90% since the end of 2009, and energy storage components show similar trends. This translates to power systems that are increasingly affordable to integrate into new developments – particularly in sunny countries like South Africa.
So is it worthwhile to integrate solar PV into the design and construction of new buildings and property developments? Absolutely. In fact, according to Architizer, a leading architecture website, incorporating PV into building design is becoming increasingly popular as the options for mounting solar modules and integrating PV into building design expand.
Installing embedded solar PV on new property developments has a host of benefits:
- Understanding the electricity load and how large the solar PV system will be upfront helps to integrate it into the building design, ensuring that it is aesthetically pleasing and/or seamless with the architect’s vision.
- Incorporating solar PV modules into the roof design ensures that the roof can bear the weight and prevents the need to strengthen the roof at a later date
- Inverter or battery rooms can be incorporated into the building design, which will keep them cool and dry, allowing them to function optimally and saving maintenance costs
- Solar PV is much cheaper than other forms of energy, so it makes the building costs more cost efficient from the start
- Incorporating solar PV and/or energy storage into a new development can shield it from load shedding, making the property more attractive to tenants
Integrating solar PV design into greenfield developments has become an obvious choice because it is one of the cheapest and most reliable forms of electricity available today. Several new developments are exploiting that: DSV Park opted to implement a large-scale solar PV system into their new 140,000 m² logistics facility, incorporating a 1.3 MWp solar PV system integrated into the Park’s electricity supply, alongside on-site diesel generators that allow it to safely operate during load shedding events.
With alarming increases in electricity tariffs and grid unpredictability and load shedding in South Africa, many like DSV are opting for cleaner power supply. Solar PV systems last 25 years, so incorporating them into building electrical design is a way of ensuring that the assets have a stable power supply way into the future.