Unutilised spaces are unutilised opportunities. With greenhouse gas emissions a concern and burden on many companies, installing solar power panels on rooftops and car parks is a viable solution for CO2 gas reduction and energy cost savings, Frits Keij, Vice President Strategy and Large Scale Projects at S&F Umwelttechnik recommends. A sponsor of the marcus evans European Facility Management Summit 2010 taking place in France, 5 – 7 May 2010, Keij shares his thoughts on the benefits of installing solar panels on rooftops and car parks.
Which green technologies can facility managers take advantage of?
Frits Keij: Many companies have a lot of unused spaces, such as rooftops and car parks, which can be better utilised by installing photovoltaics (PV) that produce green energy. This is especially true for the greenhouse gas producing industries that may be obliged to buy CO2 rights. Facility managers can reduce energy costs with such initiatives, and make money by selling the excess energy. In addition, parking fees at airports and shopping centres for example can be increased, as customers are willing to pay more for covered parking.
Using environmentally friendly energy solutions also enhance the corporate image of an organisation. We have customers who have large screens in their reception areas that show the public and their customers that they are producing solar energy; you cannot calculate the value of that type of marketing but it is always part of the deal.
What are some of the challenges of using such technologies?
Frits Keij: Firstly, facility managers have to decide whether they want to contribute to the environment by producing green energy or not. Most companies who install PVs are not energy producers, but do so from a company social responsibility point of view. If management has decided that producing solar energy is a good idea, the only question that remains is whether the building itself is capable of carrying a rooftop installation or if the car park is suitable to install one. As soon as the panels are installed, there is no burden on anyone whatsoever.
In terms of the return on investment, it is 100 per cent. There could be some issues for companies with strict guidelines on returns. Solar technologies produce around seven per cent return on assets for 20 years, thus can be considered secure. Depending on how the installation is financed, the return on equity can be much higher. In addition, many countries are tackling environmental issues, therefore offering rewards to those who are reducing their energy consumption and selling excess energy back to energy companies.
What long-term strategies or best practices would you recommend to Facility Management Executives?
Frits Keij: Solar power is a long term investment. Solar panels on a rooftop will be used for at least 20 to 25 years. No doubt it will be interesting to exchange the panels and inverters after 20 years, reusing the substructure. That way the life time of a solar power installation is prolonged with another 25 years. I would not advise companies that are in a dynamic environment with a lot of building activity to install solar panels on the ground, as that space might be needed in the future. From a facility management point of view, it would be a good idea to hand over the maintenance of the PVs to the installer or a maintenance company, as experts would take better care of the PVs.
What is your outlook for this sector for the next five to ten years?
Frits Keij: Environmentally friendly technologies have not yet been used to their full extent. The industry has now matured and the cost of producing several components have significantly decreased. Solar power is not necessarily more expensive than the traditional energy sources, depending on which part of the world you live in.
Electric cars are an up and coming sector, and a solar power plant in a company’s car park could provide the infrastructure to make electric mobility a success. Electric cars will only be a success if they are not too expensive to own or to drive. The first group of people to target would be people who drive to work, as they would not be travelling more than 50km a day. A PV installation at work would allow electric car owners to simply plug their car into the solar panels at work and recharge their batteries.
Contact: Sarin Kouyoumdjian-
Tel: + 357 22 849 313
About the European Facility Management Summit 2010
This unique forum will take place at The Majestic Barrière, Cannes, France, 5 – 7 May 2010.
Offering much more than any conference, seminar or trade show, this exclusive meeting will bring together esteemed industry thought leaders and solution providers to a highly focused and interactive networking event. The summit includes presentations on space management, the holistic future approach of sustainable development and real estate management as a strategic process.
For more information please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the event website at http://www.facilitymanagementsummit.com/
Please note that the summit is a closed business event and the number of participants strictly limited.
About marcus evans Summits
marcus evans Summits are high level business forums for the world’s leading decision-makers to meet, learn and discuss strategies and solutions. Held at exclusive locations around the world, these events provide attendees with a unique opportunity to individually tailor their schedules of keynote presentations, think tanks, seminars and one-to-one business meetings. For more information, please visit http://www.marcusevans.com
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