ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products

Online client newsletter | September 2019

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Floating energy

Innovative floating PV system uses Magnelis® for its environmental and corrosion resistance properties

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It is common to see solar energy panels on land and on roofs. But one German company is now exploring the untapped potential of lakes to generate energy. Developed by Zimmermann, the Zim Float photovoltaic (PV) system can be deployed on almost any body of freshwater. And it benefits from the cooling effect of the lake to maximise power generation while limiting evaporation. To ensure the long-term viability of the installation, the system relies on a structure composed mainly of Magnelis® by ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products.

Overview of the Zim Float-System showing the Magnelis® components in yellow

Floating solar structures offer power generation companies a flexible solution which can be deployed quickly and in areas where there is high demand on land use. The structures shield the water from the sun, limiting evaporation. At the same time the lake keeps the PV modules cool thanks to the design of the system. This helps to maximise the efficiency of the solar panels.

An optional wave barrier allows the system to cope with waves

Contending with water and nature

Development of the Zim Float-System began in 2017, with the first pilot installation a year later. Zimmermann quickly decided to use Magnelis® from ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products as Franz Krug, project manager, explains: “We involved ArcelorMittal R&D at the start as we had a concern about steel and water being in such close proximity to each other. But it’s not just water, bird droppings are another problem we need to contend with. We went to ArcelorMittal Bremen to discuss our ideas with the experts and came away convinced that Magnelis® was the solution.”

View of the Zim Float-System from below showing the Magnelis® structure which supports the solar panels

Around 80 percent of the structure is Magnelis®. It is used in the support structures for the solar panels and the walkways used by maintenance personnel. The clever design of Zim Float ensures that three-quarters of the Magnelis® is covered by the panels which protect it from rain.

Low zinc runoff ideal for waterways

Before the first Zim Float could be deployed in the Netherlands, Zimmermann required regulatory approval from the Dutch environmental authorities. A key concern for the environmental agency was the level of zinc runoff from the corrosion protection system. “Zinc runoff from Magnelis® is four times lower than galvanised steel. This satisfied their concerns,” says Franz Krug. “The other major benefit is that Magnelis® is completely recyclable at the end of the system’s life.”

A Zimmermann customer has just finished installing an 8 MW system on a lake in the Netherlands.
The entire process was completed in just 2.5 months.

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