July 2, 2024

€40 Million Solar Carport Powers Belgian Wildlife Park

Belgium's Pairi Daiza wildlife park is now home to the world's largest wooden solar carport, constructed by Perpetum Energy. The carport, with a capacity of 40 MW, involved a total investment of €40 million.

The World's Largest Wooden Solar Carport

Pairi Daiza, a prominent wildlife park in Belgium, now boasts the world's largest wooden solar carport, developed by Belgian energy company Perpetum Energy. Located in Brugelette, Hainaut, this privately owned zoo and botanical garden now features a 40 MW solar carport. The construction of this expansive renewable energy project required an investment of €40 million ($43 million), showcasing a substantial commitment to sustainability and innovative energy solutions.

Grégoire Dewandeleer, the general manager of Perpetum Energy, shared that the solar power plant installed in Pairi Daiza's parking lot is the world's largest photovoltaic carport made of wood. He mentioned that Pairi Daiza was keen on using 100% natural and renewable materials in collaboration with their partner, Préfabois, to minimize raw material waste and reduce gray energy consumption.

The carport is constructed from durable, class-4 Douglas fir, utilizing logs and raw wood beams from the Ardennes. The materials are certified by PEFC standards, ensuring sustainable forest management.

Made from class 4 Douglas fir sourced from the Ardennes and certified by PEFC for sustainable forest management, the €40 million project covers an area of 200,000 square meters. It includes 93,786 photovoltaic panels, such as Chinese Longi and Canadian Solar TOPCon bi-facial models, which together produce 40 MWp of power. Annually, these panels generate 39,800 MWh of green energy, enough to power 11,350 homes.

Exporting Solar Energy Surplus to the Grid

To support the second phase of the photovoltaic shade house and meet the park's substantial electricity needs, the main control cabin had to be modified. This involved reinforcing the wiring, replacing the current transformers (CTs) with more powerful ones, and adjusting dozens of circuit breaker cells—a task accomplished in just three days.

Grégoire Dewandeleer remarked, "We had to alter the photovoltaic shade house's imposing head cabin in order to guarantee the operation of the second phase and meet the park's substantial electrical needs. The numerous circuit breaker cells were modified, the wiring was strengthened, and the current transformers (CTs) were swapped out for stronger ones. Three days to finish a challenge!”

Financed through third-party investment by the Green4Power SA fund and co-owned by Perpetum and Socofe, this operation transforms Pairi Daiza into a notable green energy provider. While the zoo uses a portion of the solar-generated electricity, it exports the surplus to the grid. However, this surplus is expected to decrease with the installation of electric-vehicle-charging stations under the shade houses.

Wooden Solar Carports: A Green Energy Solution

In recent years, the drive towards sustainable energy has led to innovations such as the wooden solar carport. These structures combine vehicle shelter with solar energy generation, featuring durable wooden frameworks and solar panels on their roofs. They provide protection from weather while producing clean, renewable electricity for homes and businesses.

Wooden solar carports provide significant environmental benefits by using solar power to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions. They promote responsible forestry practices through the use of sustainably sourced wood, thereby minimizing carbon footprints. Additionally, these versatile structures are suitable for diverse applications in commercial and public spaces, offering shaded parking while generating renewable energy.

Investing in a wooden solar carport offers substantial long-term economic benefits. The electricity generated can offset energy costs, resulting in potential savings over time. Additionally, incentives such as tax credits or grants available in many regions make these carports financially attractive investments, further enhancing their appeal to businesses and homeowners alike.

The unveiling of Belgium's largest wooden solar carport at Pairi Daiza marks a significant stride towards sustainability in energy innovation. With its vast capacity and use of natural materials, this project not only enhances the wildlife park's commitment to environmental stewardship but also sets a precedent for integrating renewable energy solutions into public spaces.

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