29.08.2019 | How the Axpo subsidiary Urbasolar generates power from parking areas

Overhead canopies: Solar power from the parking lot

Parking lots at shopping centres, hospitals, industrial buildings or sports facilities are not just suitable for parking. The photovoltaic company Urbasolar, a subsidiary of Axpo, turns them into productive energy suppliers. The company installs solar canopies over parking areas to generate power, for example at the shopping centres of the French retailer Carrefour.

5600 shops in France, 115 000 employees, over three million customers per day: That's Carrefour. The supermarket chain is committed to sustainable, responsible management. In order to achieve this goal, the company entered a partnership with the Axpo subsidiary Urbasolar with headquarters in Montpellier in Southern France. 

The photovoltaic specialist is one of the market leaders in the area of solar canopies for parking areas and will be equipping the parking lots of 36 Carrefour supermarkets. Over time, this system will produce 21,000 MWh of green, clean energy that the supermarkets will use for their operations. This corresponds to the annual consumption (excluding heat) of 4,600 households. In addition, compared to fossil energy production, 210 tonnes of CO2 per year will be prevented.

PV plant over parking lots of a Carrefour supermarket
Good for the customer

The energy generated through the installation of these photovoltaic canopies is not fed into the power grid. Instead, it is used to cover a portion of the electricity needed to operate the supermarkets. This makes Carrefour a pioneer in the area of environmentally friendly self-supply. The project is part of the goal "to diversify energy sources and search for solutions for the future and more energy autonomy in our markets," says Fabio Coppo, Cargo Property Director at Carrefour Group. Photovoltaic canopies that cover several hundred parking spaces per supermarket increase comfort for customers, providing them and their cars with protection from weather impacts such as wind, rain and sunshine.

Larger and ...

Urbasolar has also become active at a shipment and logistics hub near Istres in Southern France. A section of the 36-hectare parking area designed for 15,000 vehicles has been covered with solar panels. The 5.3-hectare facility provides protection for the vehicles and generates about 12,900 MWh of electricity per year with a peak output of 9 MWp. More in this video:

...smaller projects

The project that Urbasolar is developing for the University Hospital in Nimes is on a somewhat smaller scale. On an area of 17,000 square metres, Urbasolar has installed photovoltaic canopies with a maximum capacity of 2.3 MWp. The special feature: Urbasolar is not only responsible for planning, building and operating the plant. The facility was also directly financed by the Axpo subsidiary. Marie-Laure Piqué, the hospital purchasing and logistics manager, commends the project. The hospital was able to achieve its goal to focus more strongly on renewable energies and to make a contribution to the energy turnaround without having to invest its own funds.

Solar system at Nîmes University Hospital

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