SEAT al Sol - VW Group
Today, companies embed environmental concerns into their manufacturing processes, developing and marketing their products. Their aim is to use techniques that make business economically sustainable.
SEAT is one of the companies who are committed to these good practices and are aware of their social responsibility. SEAT’s business management maintains a strong focus on social, environmental and economically viable sustainability.
In this sense, SEAT had the need to incorporate new techniques in their production process to make it as environmentally friendly as possible. The company accepted this challenge and in conjunction with SEAT, gave birth to SEAT al Sol. This is an ambitious project to generate clean electricity on a large scale with solar panels on the roofs and parking areas at its factory in Martorell. This innovation provides a dual functionality: renewable energy is generated while the cars are protected against adverse weather.
SEAT al sol presented three major obstacles:
- Economic viability. A project of this magnitude requires a huge investment. There was a need to seek for a partner to invest in it. Therefore it was necessary to create a proposal that could generate synergies. This obstacle was overcome by looking for a partner with interests in common with SEAT. The company had long sought to join a flagship project to develop its renewable energy business unit. It is for this reason that SEAT al Sol initiative was the perfect opportunity to strengthen the existing commercial relationship and, in turn, generate synergies that benefited both parties.
- Legality. In the middle of the project regulations relating to photovoltaic roof-installations underwent a major modification. This obstacle was also overcome thanks to SEAT’s open and transparent dialogue with the Ministry of Industry; Ministry considered this project as an opportunity to promote this kind of initiatives all over Spain.
- Technical challenge. It was necessary to implement the project without disturbing the normal day to day activity of the plant. It was necessary to deal with important technical constraints, respect certain distances and space requirements to ensure proper access to both trucks and transport vehicles as well as to emergency and safety vehicles. All this had to be considered, taking into account all the actual photovoltaic panels installed for the capture of solar energy to increase the profitability of the installation.
We managed to overcome all these technical obstacles with an innovative design of the structure which supported the canopy panels. Once again, the participation of the company was key to the project as they contributed their technical expertise in the design and construction of the metal structures that met the technical requirements and the financial constraints.
The process comprised three phases from 2008 to 2012:
- For the first phase a pilot plant was built on the roof of SEAT headquarters. It started operating in March 2008. It produces over 50.000 KW/h of clean electricity for consumption at the plant.
- For the next phase, two plants, each of 2 MW were built. These were located on the roofs of assembly workshops and on the canopies that cover two parking areas for finished vehicles. It started operating in December 2010.
- New plants located on the roofs of other workshops at Martorell factory and on the canopies of other parking lots are under construction. These plants will be operative in 2011-2012 and the total output of energy estimated will be of 10.6 MW.
The shelters that were installed in the parking areas to support the solar panels generated great synergy as instead of being an obstacle in terms of logistics they also protect the finished vehicles. Also serving as a shield for certain weather conditions and creating a shade to protect the paint from the effects of UV rays from the sun, this project brings other benefits:
- A low environmental impact, considering the fact that there was no additional land occupation since it was installed on the facilities already built.
- Results are remarkable. Once we have finished the project SEAT al Sol, solar panels will be covering the roofs of six plants, six workshops and the canopies of four parking areas. By March 23rd, a total of 1768947 KWh of electricity had been generated. It is remarkable that the first two plants already reduced 2800 tons in annual emissions of CO2. These plants will prevent the emissions into the atmosphere of 6.200 tons of CO2 per year.
- Innovative developments will have a lasting impact because they can be developed in other facilities around the world.