Solivus helps global infrastructure giant 'ditch the diesel' with modular solar system

Feb 26, 2024

The Problem

In its continued commitment to supporting the decarbonisation of the built environment, Solivus recently teamed up with a global infrastructure giant to create a lightweight, solar alternative to power the modular buildings at one of their key compounds.

One of the leading multinational infrastructure groups, our client embeds sustainable practices across their business. As part of this, they have set out to phase out diesel and other fossil fuels as quickly as possible, in line with their ambition to go Beyond Net Zero Carbon by 2050 as set out in their sustainability strategy, Building New Futures.

To this end, the business sought a large-scale solution which could end its reliance on diesel for onsite infrastructure while ascertaining absolute security of power supply. Added to this, our client is one of the leading partners of the ‘Zero Diesel Sites Route Map’, a key element of the Construction Leadership Council’s CO2nstructZero programme, with a desire to eliminate diesel from most construction sites by 2035 as part of the wider roadmap to decarbonisation.

Importantly, the Route Map advocates increased on-site renewable energy and removal of diesel generators from site, with up to 500 construction companies signing up to significant diesel reduction strategies by 2024. It follows the 2022 removal of red diesel rebate from construction.

This comes as the most recent figures reveal the UK construction industry consumed 2.5m tonnes of diesel in 2020 emitting 6m tonnes of greenhouse gases.1 This is in addition to other harmful air pollutants that can impact air quality and the health of those working on sites.

Adding further incentives are volatile energy markets and soaring diesel costs – which shot up at one of the fastest rates in more than 20 years last September2 – meaning the transition from diesel to renewable energy is no longer just a green imperative but a financial one for construction.

Inherently, solar presented the obvious solution. However, having previously trialled rooftop solar on its modular cabin buildings, the business had encountered a number of problems. Fundamentally, the roof structure was not strong enough to take the weight and windage of conventional solar without being structurally bolstered, resulting in complexity and cost. The rigid panel form also made it difficult to easily store and transport the cabins for further use on project completion.

Taking this all into account, the remit was for our client to find a more innovative and agile solar alternative which could help provide a smarter, more scalable and all-round cost-effective blueprint for its transition away from diesel.

The pilot scheme at our client's site.

The Solution

Enter Solivus’ groundbreaking lightweight solar solution which has enabled our client to finally unlock the ability to use solar generation and batteries to provide onsite power supply.

Working in close partnership with the business, Solivus, a proud partner of the CO2nstruction-Zero programme, developed a bespoke modular solar solution for the site, designed to integrate with existing infrastructure for minimal disruption and downtime.

Unlike previous attempts of using traditional solar panels, Solivus’ innovative ‘skinlike’ film solution was able to be deployed onto the site’s modular cabin rooftops easily, and at pace.

At every stage, the focus remained on reducing the carbon impact, generating cost savings, promoting sustainable business practice and ensuring power security.

The innovative solution combines solar panels and a battery storage system, to create a decentralised, self-sufficient energy hub. Linking it all together is an advanced fully remote monitoring and control system, enabling a reliable low-carbon power supply to the site, regardless of weather conditions. This comes as solar power was recently revealed as the cheapest mode of power generation in the UK.3

Further benefits include ease of portability for reuse, with Solivus’ solar solution enabling ease of covering the solar and stacking the cabins for transport upon project completion.    

Left to right: Marc Staddon - Solivus Principal Engineer, Jo Parker-Swift - Solivus CEO

The Outcome

Not only has Solivus’ solution enabled our client to reduce diesel ahead of the regulatory curve and boost its sustainability credentials, but it has had a serious impact on the bottom line.

Already, the financial impact of switching to solar has been significant. Over a 12-month period, there has been a financial saving of £9,140. In terms of environmental impact, the figures are just as significant. During this 12-month period, there has been a reduction in CO2 of over 14,416 Kg, (equivalent to the CO2 used to power 24.7 passengers’ roundtrip flights to Munich),[4] as well as an Annual Generator Saving of 4,236 Hours.

The annual Implied Unit Cost of the Solar BESS System is £0.61/kWh, compared to a Cost of Supplying Equivalent Energy via Diesel Generator of £1.44/kWh. As such, the project will pay for itself in 6 years, with a Return on Investment of 174%.[5]

Energy security is accounted for too. Against the back drop of energy market volatility and weather extremes, the solution, supported with storage acting as a frequency regulator between the highs and lows of solar generation, ensuring a 24/7 power supply.

Remote monitoring provides the operator with valuable insight into energy stored and used, providing opportunities for further energy efficiencies and cost saving measures.

Jo Parker-Swift, comments on this innovative installation: “We were very pleased to be able to work with this global infrastructure giant on this project; it was a great opportunity to showcase Solivus’ lightweight solar technologies and the expertise and creativity of our engineering team. To see the system working so well and knowing the potential the scheme has to help our client on their mission to decarbonise is extremely rewarding for everyone involved.”

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5 * Figures based on Live Location, over a 7-day operational period, annually.

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