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Magnelis® protects the biggest solar park in the Benelux

Covering an area the size of 200 football fields, the Kristal Solar Park is the largest photovoltaic installation in the Benelux. The 300,000 solar panels in the park are mounted on support tables using the FASTSLIDE® system developed by ArcelorMittal customer voestalpine Sadef. The FASTSLIDE® components are roll-formed from steel coated in Magnelis®, a unique corrosion protection coating developed by ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products. Magnelis® ensures the long-term viability of the solar installation, even in the harsh industrial environment where it is located.

Pictured at the Kristal Solar Park (from left to right): Kris Bardyn, purchasing manager for voestalpine Sadef; Marc Depauw, head of product engineering for voestalpine Sadef; Hendrik Vandekinderen, Magnelis Sales Responsible North & East-North for ArcelorMittal; Tom Van De Putte, account manager for voestalpine Sadef at ArcelorMittal Belgium; Jerome Guth, segment leader – solar at ArcelorMittal Europe; and Corinne Dieu, metallic coating product development manager at ArcelorMittal Global R&D.

The Kristal Solar Park has been designed to meet all the energy needs of the Nyrstar zinc-melting facility near the town of Lommel in the east of Belgium. The Park is spread across ten different plots of land and will have a capacity of 100 megawatts (MW) when it comes onstream in the summer of 2019. The green nature of the project fits perfectly with the city of Lommel’s corporate slogan: ‘Pure Energy’.

Due to the vast number of solar panels required, voestalpine Sadef proposed their FASTSLIDE® system for the project. “If a conventional system was used, it would take eight people working for one year to install all the panels,” says Marc Depauw, head of voestalpine Sadef’s engineering office who led the initial design of the solar park. “FASTSLIDE® reduces that time by 80 percent.”

Magnelis® ZM430 recommended for corrosive atmosphere

Magnelis® frame components ready for installation on site

The proximity of the zinc melting plant means the atmosphere nearby has high levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2). For this reason, ArcelorMittal recommended Magnelis® ZM430 for the project. ZM430 has a 35 µm thick coating of Magnelis® on both sides of the steel. This is the thickest Magnelis® coating currently available.

The steel was produced and coated with Magnelis® at ArcelorMittal Bremen (Germany). It was then shipped to voestalpine Sadef’s Belgium manufacturing facility, where it was roll-formed into FASTSLIDE® profiles and supporting frames. “Compared to post-galvanisation, a key benefit of Magnelis® is that it doesn’t need coating after forming,” explains Henk Poleyn, commercial manager for voestalpine Sadef. “This saves time and a costly galvanising step, making Magnelis® very interesting in this project. Magnelis® also heals itself on cut edges over time, ensuring the long-term protection of the frame.”

One of the main reasons voestalpine Sadef chose Magnelis® from ArcelorMittal was the quick delivery time required. “There was a very short period between ordering the material for the frames, and the start of their on-field installation,” says Tom Van De Putte, account manager for voestalpine Sadef at ArcelorMittal Belgium. “Other factors influencing our decision to choose Magnelis® included the quality of the product, the long guarantee ArcelorMittal was able to offer, and our ability to deliver a large volume in a short time.”

Project-specific guarantee

The FASTSLIDE® click system eliminates the need for clamps or bolts on every individual panel

The Magnelis® coated FASTSLIDE® profiles and supporting frames were transported to the construction site and installed before the PV panels arrived. Each PV panel was then slid into the support table from the lower side, minimising the amount of lifting for installers. There are two rows of 14 solar panels on each support table. To maximise the output of the solar installation, half of the panels are oriented to the east with the other seven oriented to the west.

The panels are held in place using the FASTSLIDE® click system which eliminates the need for clamps or bolts on every individual panel. That means installers do not need to access the structure to secure the panels. This reduces the chances of damage to the infrastructure and panels, and provides a safer working environment for the installers.

The use of the thickest Magnelis® coating has enabled ArcelorMittal to offer a project-specific guarantee of 25 years on the frames. “A maintenance and inspection plan will be developed with the customer,” says Tom Van De Putte. “Regular inspections will be carried out over the lifetime of the Kristal Solar Park to ensure that plan is being followed and that Magnelis® is withstanding the corrosive environment.”

The dynamic nature of Magnelis®

The Magnelis® frames are guaranteed against corrosion for 25 years

Magnelis® was first introduced by ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products in 2012. Since then it has been utilised in applications as diverse as solar plant components, agricultural products, heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, and road safety equipment.

With its 35 µm thick coating on both sides of the steel, ZM430 is the thickest Magnelis® coating currently available. ArcelorMittal is developing even thicker coatings which will increase the lifetime of components located in aggressive environments and soils.

Magnelis® is now available on high strength (up to 550 megapascal [MPa] yield strength) cold rolled steels. It can also be applied to hot rolled substrates with yield strengths up to 700 MPa. This is useful for customers who want to lighten structural applications while offering a very high level of corrosion protection.

More info on Magnelis®:

About voestalpine Sadef

voestalpine Sadef is an international company, originally formed in 1947. It became a part of the voestalpine group in 1990. Sadef Profile Solutions provides innovative cold- and roll-formed profiles for the automotive, building, and solar industries. Their motto? If you can dream it, we can make it!

More info:

Kristal Solar Park in figures

The Kristal Solar Park is an initiative of the Limburg Investment Company (LRM), the city of Lommel, and Nyrstar. Construction of the park is the responsibility of local energy company ENGIE Fabricom. Work commenced at the beginning of October 2018 and will take around nine months to complete.

  • Area: 10 different plots, equivalent to 200 football fields.
  • Maximum capacity: 100 MW
  • Solar panels: 300,000
  • Panel dimensions: 1 x 2 metres
  • Solar cells: 72 per panel – over 21.5 million in total
  • Length of cables: 2,200 kilometres
  • Length of profiles in Magnelis® ZM430: 940 kilometres


Copyright images: Shutterstock, ArcelorMittal & voestalpine Sadef