Power from the Sun in Tallinn
Technopolis Ülemiste is located between Tallinn airport and the railway station so it is very easy to access. The campus is developing strongly; the newest building, to be completed in autumn, will generate some of the power it needs from the sun.
Solar radiation keeps the earth going, plants growing, winds blowing and it also keeps the planet’s temperature suitable for living organisms. In a little over an hour, the earth receives as much energy from the sun as the entire human population consumes in a year.
Environment and energy
Fossil fuels pollute the air and cause global warming, and nuclear power is not without its risks. The sun generates clean energy, and progress in technological solutions has made it an economically viable option even in the Nordic countries. Technopolis is an open-minded pioneer, and it has now launched its first solar power project.
A roofwetting party was recently held at the Löötsa 5 building on the Tallinn campus; solar power has been introduced to the building as a pilot project, and it will offer practical information about the production of solar power and its viability as a source of energy.
“Electricity is a little cheaper in Estonia than in Finland but still very expensive considering the overall lower price level in Estonia,” says Esa Klemetti, Managing Director of Citron Oy. He works as a subcontractor design and project manager in many Technopolis construction projects. “In terms of energy consumption, the solar power station we are building now is not very significant, but even a small saving is worthwhile.”
The building’s height is limited
The Löötsa 5 project utilises mainly local expertise in architectural, structural and electrical design. The solar power station will be built by Naps Solar Estonia OÜ, a subsidiary of the Finnish company Naps Solar Oy. The solar panels are produced at the Naps factory in Tallinn, and the station will be designed and installed by local workforce.
Solar panels are usually installed on the roof of a building but in this case they will be located on the south-facing wall. Klemetti explains that the reason for this is that the building is situated right beside Tallinn airport, and its height is restricted because of the air traffic. It reaches the limit almost to the inch, so there was no room for the panels on the roof.
The wall installation has its benefits: the panels are mounted almost vertically so their energy yield is at its best when the sun shines at a low level. This means that more power is generated in spring and autumn when there is a greater need for energy than in the middle of the summer. In the summer, the panels act like awnings, offering shade to the south-facing windows.
Electricity is fed to the grid
The panels will cover about 550 m2 of the spaces between the windows on the south-facing wall. Their total nominal output is 82.5 kW, equivalent to the engine power of a large passenger car, for example. The total yearly output is calculated to be about 67 MWh, which would equate to the energy consumption of approximately 30 one-bedroom apartments. About 5% of the building’s total energy consumption will be generated by the sun.
“There will not be any need for batteries, as the system will be connected to the grid, and any surplus energy generated in the summer will be fed to the grid,” explains Klemetti. “This is revolutionary and makes the plant especially interesting.”
“Property owners will be able to earn money from solar power in the summer as the local electric company pays for power the building generates. In fact, there are hundreds of buildings in Estonia that sell solar power to the grid. In this respect, Finland is far behind. It could be because the Finnish power supply companies’ monopoly is too strong,” says Klemetti.
The next pilot will be in Finland
One of Technopolis’ new projects involves phases three and four at Yliopistonrinne, on the Tampere campus, where solar power will also be introduced. Like in Tallinn, the surplus produced in the summer can be fed to the network.
“Responsibility is part of Technopolis Oyj’s strategy and ethical values,” says Technopolis’ Concept Development and Sustainability Manager Virve Valonen. “Our environmental strategy and sustainable development programme guide our everyday operations. The solar power projects we have launched are an example of our willingness to keep an open mind when it comes to new technology, and we want to do our part in decreasing carbon dioxide emission and energy consumption.