Sustainable innovations:

Energy production using solar panels on shelters

The whole of the Western world is now trying to reduce the use of fossil fuels and create a more sustainable environment and economy. This also applies to fur breeders, a creative bunch who are not afraid to try again and invest when necessary.

In Finland, a study was conducted in 2018 that simulated the use of solar panels on shelters as a means of developing the fur industry. That thesis was a thought experiment on paper. Now there are also shelters with solar panels in reality, and the interest is growing.

Jan Segervall

The situation in Finland

The desire for sustainable solutions is everywhere in Finnish society. Due to high petrol and diesel prices and rising electricity costs, people are reviewing their spending and looking for opportunities to be part of sustainable development. In Finland, however, solar panels on shelters are a relatively new phenomenon.

– They have been built in both Ukraine and Spain, but here it has not really started yet. Even if they exist in some places, says Jan Segervall, CEO of Luova Research Station in Kannus, Finland.

Finland actually has a great many hours of sunshine.

Many hours of sunshine in Finland

Compared with Central Europe, Finland actually has a great many hours of sunshine during the summer, which is the starting point for installing solar panels on shelters. So, most of the year, it is possible to use solar energy.

– As early as March-April, the solar panels are starting to work, says Segervall.

However, it is important to consider the sun’s angle of incidence on the shelters. To get the most out of the solar panels, they should be in the south position. Nowadays, this is not so usual, and most shelter roofs are often in an east-west position, giving only 70% of the effect.

– It would be best to place solar panels in feed kitchens and fur farms where you are actually in need of electricity all year round and can place them correctly.

Some current challenges

Today it is possible to sell surplus electricity to electricity companies, but there is a lot of activity on the market now, and producers do not have time to get on board. 

– At the moment, it’s difficult to get systems connected due to the high demand for components. In addition, it is worth checking with the electricity company if they are able to receive the electricity from the solar panels from your particular area, Segervall explains.

The potential is there

During the summer, a fur farm consumes very little electricity. But when the fur is harvested in autumn and early winter, it would be good to have electricity stored up. It is perhaps only a matter of time before we see electric feed trucks on the market like electric cars and boats. And then these trucks will also have to be charged. A great deal may have happened in this area in a few years’ time.

The technical life of solar panels used to be only 20 years, but with modern solar panels, 90% of their efficiency still remains after that amount of time. This is a major advantage in a situation where the electricity market is changing significantly.

– If the price of electricity remains high, solar panels can be a good investment and a passive income throughout the summer that does not require much maintenance, Segervall concludes.