Photovoltaic array installed at our head office

Multiconsult has installed a demonstration solar array at its head office, which will be used for knowledge-sharing. The array will be used to collect and verify data on solar power in general and on the effects of shading in particular.

12. October 2016

View a time lapse of the installation here.

“As part of Multiconsult’s strategy to be ‘environmentally conscious in everything it does’, we have been considering the possibility of installing a photovoltaic array on the roof of our head office in Skøyen for a long time. Now the idea has become reality and the solar panels have been installed,” says project manager Øystein B. Holm.

The array was financed by the landlord with support from the Oslo Climate and Energy Fund and Multiconsult itself, which has contributed both financial resources and time.

Demonstrating the problem of shading on roofs

All roofs have some protruding elements (chimneys, cooling and ventilation systems, etc.) that cast long shadows for much of the year. When a shadow is cast over a solar module, there is a significant loss of electricity generation. This affects not just the shaded module but also the whole string that is connected to it in series. Consequently, solar panels are often not installed on a large proportion of the available area around objects that cast shadows, in order to avoid these losses.

“This is a real issue on virtually all roofs. That’s why we want to demonstrate and study this effect in greater detail using the technology available, such as electronic mitigation of losses with a ‘power optimizer’ and microconverters,” says Holm.

Helping to optimise the use of solar energy

A pyranometer is being installed to measure the intensity of incoming shortwave solar radiation (in watts per m²) over a 180-degree field of view, along with a thermometer and wind speed meter. This will give Multiconsult reliable climate data to go with the electricity generation data, which can then be used in the experiments and demonstrations that will be carried out. A camera will also be installed to monitor snow on the modules, as there is currently a lack of data and research on snow shading.

“Improving our understanding of these issues will very soon enable Multiconsult’s consulting engineers and architects to adapt their designs in ways that will help to optimise the use of solar energy. For example, they will be able to optimise the location of buildings on a site with respect to objects that cast shadows, such as trees and other buildings. We will also be able to make sure that available surfaces face south and have a favourable slope, while ensuring that protruding elements that cast shadows are located to the north of these surfaces,” says Holm.

Internal and external knowledge-sharing

The array will be used to share knowledge about solar power both within the company and with third parties such as customers, students and people in the industry. Electricity generation data will be shown on a screen inside the building.

“There is still a way to go before solar power achieves the position that it deserves in Norway. We want to contribute to the body of knowledge and research about solar energy, and we hope that our demonstration array will help to inspire our customers, people in the industry and, in the long run, politicians to opt for solar energy in the future,” concludes Holm.

The official opening of the array will take place on 9 November in conjunction with Multiconsult’s “Green Technology and Innovation Day”.