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Sunmaxx decarbonizes automobile production site with PVT modules


A new, comprehensive feasibility study from Sunmaxx PVT GmbH and goodmen energy GmbH proves the economic efficiency of PVT modules, using a production site of the automotive supplier MAHLE as an example. Sunmaxx PVT is a Dresden-based specialist in photovoltaic-thermal (PVT) modules, while goodmen energy is a planning expert from Munich. The study concludes that both the heat and electricity demand of MAHLE’s production site in Vaihingen an der Enz can be completely decarbonized using the combination of PVT modules from Sunmaxx and standard PV modules. The plant has a production area of approximately 17,000 square meters.

PVT modules, combined with geothermal probes and a geothermal heat pump, deliver the greatest possible impact in terms of carbon footprint and site economics. The modules can generate heat and electricity simultaneously. Part of the heat generated by the modules is stored seasonally in the geothermal field. However, a portion of the roof area is already sufficient to generate the entire annual heat demand of the production site via PVT modules. Standard PV modules for pure electricity generation fill in the remaining unused areas of the plant and complement the system. This combined form of energy generation not only maximizes efficiency, but also saves around 2,700 tons of CO2 annually in the final stage.

Once the system has been installed, there are no further fuel costs and the maintenance requirements remain very manageable. Accordingly, heating costs remain consistently low for the entire service life of the heating system. Joachim Wulff, site manager of the MAHLE plant in Vaihingen-Enz, commented: "We are seeing significant increases in energy costs. At the same time, we have to work economically. Being independent of the fossil energy markets is an absolute advantage for us as a production plant. At the same time, we are making an important contribution to true climate neutrality."

MAHLE also sees major benefits for customers: "These measures are part of our company's CO2 roadmap. With them, we are pioneering the way forward in the automotive supply industry," said Jumana Al-Sibai, member of the MAHLE Group Management Board and responsible party for thermal management. MAHLE supplies the key component of the PVT modules: the heat exchanger that harnesses the waste heat from the solar modules. "Thanks to the PVT modules from Sunmaxx, the required number of ground probes could be massively reduced. In addition, the ground probes serve as a seasonal storage unit that absorbs the solar heat from the PVT modules in summer and releases it again in winter for heating purposes. This results in a win-win situation in the interaction of the two components, ground probes and PVT, which makes the concept technically and economically successful," says Dr. Markus Pröll, project manager and authorized signatory at goodmen energy.

Dr. Wilhelm Stein, CEO of Sunmaxx PVT GmbH, added: "Our solution can be applied to almost any industry and is fully scalable. We already have experience in diverse sectors and are working with very energy-intensive industries to decarbonize sites with several hundred GWh of heat and power demand. In doing so, we can directly cover temperature ranges up to 150°C in combination with modern heat pump technology and significantly reduce fuel costs even for higher temperature levels. And even without geothermal energy, sites can be completely or largely decarbonized with our modules."

The project is currently in the execution phase. Accompanying measures such as test drilling have already been carried out. The plant in Vaihingen an der Enz is scheduled to go into operation in 2024. In parallel, a team from Sunmaxx PVT and MAHLE is working intensively on decarbonizing other MAHLE locations in the same way.

Sunmaxx decarbonizes automobile production site with PVT modules
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