Fire powered ice: Europe's largest ski hall works with solar

There are some people who wish winter would never end. It turns out the hot summer sun was the answer to their prayers. Solar energy now powers an indoor ski hall in Northern Germany throughout the year. This is because the owners of the alpincenter Hamburg-Wittenburg faced the challenge of finding a way to significantly reduce their energy costs for operating the facility, Europe’s biggest, which features an impressive 30,000m2 of indoor ski slopes.

 

“Professional winter sports athletes and people who are crazy about winter sports in general need a place they can train and enjoy themselves all year round. And even for the occasional thrill seeker, there’s nothing like a great time in the snow with friends on a hot summer day,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar.

 

The winter sports center’s operator, the Dutch Van der Valk Group, reaps a double benefit: using the self-produced solar power significantly offsets energy costs while at the same time reducing the power needed to run the cooling system thank to the shadowing effect underneath the solar system.

“We chose to install a structure-mounted rooftop system that allows them to operate the facility 365 days a year, using only the self-generated power from an array of Canadian Solar CS6P-P modules with a total output of 3.6 MW,” said Dr. Christian Metje, whose company planned and implemented the project.

This makes the facility completely independent of the public grid and EEG subsidies. “For a rooftop system of this scale, efficiency and quality of the modules are paramount. Particularly for the alpincenter Hamburg-Wittenburg, which wanted to completely cover their energy demand by the self-produced power, performance losses are not tolerable,” he said.

The shadow the PV system produces on the roof results in a 50 percent lower surface temperature. This drastically reduces the load on the cooling technology, which keeps the indoor temperature at -1 degree Celsius throughout the year, translating into lower energy consumption. In addition, the CS6P-P modules used are particularly well suited for commercial rooftop installations. They are among the top-ranked in the industry in PV USA (PTC) ratings, which are quickly becoming universally accepted standards for measuring real-world module energy production and performance.

 

"Projects like the alpincenter Hamburg-Wittenburg are the future of solar energy: PV systems that cover the facility's complete energy demand and that do not depend on public subsidies,” said Canadian Solar’s Dr. Qu. “It is a particular proof of PV efficiency that a winter sports center – which needs great amounts of energy - can rely on solar power".

Hamburg-Wittenburg, Germany

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3.38 kWh per m2 per day