Solar energy: a gift from the heavens

Wind, sun, biomass - The juwi Group is setting benchmarks when it comes to renewable energies with clean electricity produced in an efficient, emission-free process, an approach which TECOSIM also supports. The engineering company has used state-of-the-art computer technology to calculate a whole range of optimisation opportunities for the open land solar panel support frames that juwi uses in its projects.

Panel installation by juwi in the Waldpolenz energy park, Germany. Image copyright: juwi

Climate protection, self-reliance, jobs – renewable energies have an important role to play in the future energy mix. The sun is a free source of energy, a renewable raw material which does not pose any risks, eliminates reliance on fuel imports and does not produce any emissions. TECOSIM is in favour of such a clean, effective approach to generating energy. Improving the environment and safety is firmly embedded in TECOMSIM's corporate values.

Easing competitive pressure
The solar power sector is under enormous pressure the world over. Solar modules are being offered at increasingly more favourable prices on the market. However, this is nowhere near enough to ensure sales. Suppliers of turnkey systems, known as project developers, also need to reduce costs for other system components on a continuous basis to remain competitive on an international level. juwi has now completed over 1,500 photovoltaic systems worldwide with a total capacity of 1,250 megawatt.

As a result of the pressure from the competitive environment, it commissioned TECOSIM to look for optimisation opportunities for the open land support frames on which its solar panels are mounted. TECOSIM's task was to reduce the cost of the frame without detracting from its functionality, safety and ease of installation. To complete the task, TECOSIM's project manager was designated a high-performance team consisting of employees from both companies.

More cost-efficient – steel instead of aluminium
Two calculation methods were required for achieving this objective: first of all, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) were used to determine the real impact by different wind loads on solar panels and the open land support frames. The effect needed to be studied in great detail to ensure that juwi could install its systems worldwide, adapted to the individual needs and conditions of each location. Secondly, TECOSIM engineers carried out structure simulation to analyse the strength, stability and durability of the individual frame components in depth as a part of the overall project. The result: it not only makes sense in terms of cost, but is also technically feasible to replace the considerably more expensive aluminium used up until now with steel for various components.

In the case of other aluminium components, the aim was to save material. TECOSIM engineers managed to find solutions which made the patented juwi clips used to fit panels to support frames almost 40 per cent lighter while maintaining the same characteristics and quality as a minimum. As a consequence, TECOSIM's recommendations enable juwi to save around 500,000 euros a year on clips alone. Overall, cost savings amounted to several million euros. It was possible to put all the optimisations which TECOSIM identified into effect immediately. Less weight means less use of raw materials and greater sustainability. These are optimal solutions for the future and a benchmark for the TECOSIM brand promise: "Better life by simulation".

Efficiency and sustainability for the energy sector: 

  • Aim: To achieve cost reduction for open land support frames
  • Completion of different computer simulations and data interpretation
  • Replacement of aluminium by steel in solar panel fastening clips. Saving of materials: 39 per cent
  • Cost saving on clips for juwi: about 500,000 euros per year
  • Cost benefit for the overall project: several million euros