Dual purpose photovoltaic (PV) installations are gaining traction in the renewable energy sector. These innovative solutions not only generate clean energy but also serve additional functions, such as enhancing building aesthetics or providing infrastructure benefits. Key examples of such installations include PV facades, balconies, agrivoltaics (Agri-PV), carports, and other. Among these, noise barriers with integrated PV modules are emerging as a promising solution, exemplified by SoliTek’s recent pilot project in Lithuania.

The Importance of Dual Purpose PV Installations

Dual purpose PV installations play a crucial role in maximizing the utility of available space while promoting sustainability. Here’s why they matter:

  • By combining energy generation with other functions, these installations make better use of space, which is particularly valuable in urban areas. For instance, PV facades and balconies can transform the vertical surfaces of buildings into productive energy sources, reducing the need for additional land.
  • Integrating PV systems into existing structures like facades and carports can reduce installation costs and provide additional value, such as shade or sound reduction. This integration lowers the overall investment required and can lead to faster payback periods.
  • PV facades and balconies not only generate electricity but also improve building aesthetics and provide practical benefits like shading and insulation. These installations can enhance the appearance of buildings while contributing to energy efficiency by reducing heating and cooling loads.
  • Combining agriculture with solar power production allows for dual land use, supporting both food and energy production, and enhancing the sustainability of agricultural practices. Agri-PV systems can help farmers diversify their income sources and increase the resilience of agricultural operations.

Noise Barriers as a Dual Purpose Solution

Photovoltaic noise barriers (PVNBs) are an innovative example of dual purpose installations. These barriers reduce noise pollution while generating clean energy, making them an efficient use of infrastructure. SoliTek’s pilot project in the Vilnius region of Lithuania illustrates the potential of this technology. The project involves installing sound-absorbing walls equipped with bifacial solar modules along a railway line, aiming to assess their real-world efficiency in both noise reduction and electricity generation.

The pilot installation features a 4.5-meter-high sound-absorbing wall equipped with 60 units of SoliTek Solid Bifacial 370W solar modules along a 70-meter stretch. These bifacial modules capture sunlight from both sides and are designed to withstand extreme environmental conditions. The wall is expected to have a capacity of at least 22 kW, generating approximately 13.2 MWh of electricity annually. This initiative will help Lithuanian Railways meet part of its electricity needs, reduce CO2 emissions, and produce energy locally, reducing the load on the electricity grid.

Drivers and Challenges for Dual Purpose PV Projects

Several factors drive the adoption of dual purpose PV installations:

  • Sustainability Goals: The global push for sustainable solutions encourages the integration of PV systems into multifunctional infrastructure. Governments and organizations are increasingly setting ambitious renewable energy targets, which support the deployment of dual purpose PV projects.
  • Economic Incentives: Government subsidies and incentives for renewable energy projects can make dual purpose installations more financially viable. These financial incentives can offset the higher initial costs and make such projects more attractive to investors and developers.
  • Technological Advancements: Continuous improvements in PV technology enhance the efficiency and feasibility of these installations. Innovations in solar panel design, energy storage, and smart grid integration are making dual purpose PV solutions more efficient and cost-effective.

However, there are also challenges:

  • Higher Initial Costs: Dual purpose PV solutions often involve higher upfront costs compared to traditional PV installations, which can be a barrier to adoption. The integration of additional functionalities, such as noise reduction or shading, can increase the complexity and cost of the projects.
  • Complex Integration: Integrating PV systems into existing structures requires careful planning and collaboration among various stakeholders. This includes architects, engineers, and urban planners, all of whom need to work together to ensure the successful implementation of dual purpose PV projects.
  • Market Acceptance: Convincing stakeholders to invest in more expensive, multifunctional solutions can be challenging. It requires clear communication of the long-term benefits and value propositions of these installations.

Addressing Sales Challenges of complex solutions in the PV Industry

One of the critical challenges for such innovative projects is how to market and sell these more expensive solutions effectively. Understanding the unique value propositions and communicating them to potential buyers is essential. To help industry professionals navigate these challenges, an upcoming masterclass titled “Boosting B2B Sales in the PV Industry” will provide valuable insights and strategies. This course aims to equip professionals with the skills needed to sell PV solutions in B2B segment, ensuring broader adoption and success of dual purpose PV installations.

For more information on the masterclass and to stay updated on industry trends, visit Boosting B2B Sales in PV Industry

Julija Kaladžinskaitė

10 years of experience in solar industry, including PV module sales throughout Europe, project management, and development of building integrated PV solutions.


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