Solar pan­els for logis­tics facil­i­ties, oppor­tu­ni­ties for municipalities

Logis­tics real estate as an ener­gy source — sev­er­al mil­lion square metres of space for solar panels

Every year, sev­er­al mil­lion square metres of logis­tics build­ings are con­struct­ed in Ger­many. The exten­sive roof and façade areas offer enough space to accom­mo­date thou­sands of solar pan­els per prop­er­ty. Equipped with pho­to­voltaics, these can pro­duce an amount of ener­gy that far exceeds the property’s own needs, so that the sur­plus can flow into the pub­lic grid. In the new-build sec­tor alone, the poten­tial for con­tribut­ing to the ener­gy tran­si­tion is con­sid­er­able, but it is also pos­si­ble to upgrade exist­ing buildings.

“A rule of thumb for cal­cu­lat­ing the max­i­mum sys­tem out­put of pho­to­voltaics is based on one kilo­watt peak per ten square metres of sur­face area,” explains Alexan­der Nehm, Pro­fes­sor of Logis­tics at DHBW Mannheim. “I assume that about 100 mil­lion square metres of new logis­tics space have been cre­at­ed in the last twen­ty years. If these prop­er­ties alone were equipped with pho­to­voltaics, the achiev­able out­put would be about 10 ter­awatt hours per year. That is just under two per­cent of net elec­tric­i­ty con­sump­tion in Germany.”

In addi­tion to pho­to­voltaics, large-scale indus­tri­al parks are also suit­able loca­tions for wind tur­bines, espe­cial­ly since they take up a very small area of land. Oth­er tech­nolo­gies such as com­bined heat and pow­er plants, water-source heat pumps and geot­her­mal ener­gy pro­vide addi­tion­al sup­port for the ener­gy tran­si­tion. Frauke Heis­ter­mann, spokesper­son for the ini­tia­tive “Die Wirtschafts­mach­er” (The Eco­nom­ic Mak­ers) describes the oppor­tu­ni­ty that logis­tics loca­tions can offer for munic­i­pal­i­ties: “The top­ic of ener­gy sup­ply now plays a cen­tral role for munic­i­pal­i­ties in the upcom­ing realign­ment. Instead of using green spaces for pho­to­voltaics on a grand scale, exist­ing logis­tics prop­er­ties offer ide­al con­di­tions. In new build­ings, it is already pre­dom­i­nant­ly part of the stan­dard. So in the future, logis­tics loca­tions will not only con­tribute to the sup­ply of goods, but also to the sup­ply of green energy.”

Com­mit­ment of logis­tics: Estab­lish dia­logue, show perspectives

The trend among devel­op­ers and users clear­ly points in the direc­tion of sus­tain­abil­i­ty. This is also shown by the Logix Award, which the Logis­tics Real Estate Ini­tia­tive (Logix) presents every two years for out­stand­ing logis­tics real estate projects. The four final­ists of 2021 all dis­tin­guished them­selves through spe­cial mea­sures in terms of sus­tain­abil­i­ty, CO2 neu­tral­i­ty and social aspects in the build­ing design.

How far the build­ing goes in the direc­tion of a “green” build­ing is decid­ed by the selec­tion of the respec­tive sus­tain­abil­i­ty com­po­nents — from the pho­to­volta­ic sys­tem on the roof to e‑charging columns for cars, cis­terns for rain­wa­ter util­i­sa­tion and roof and façade green­ing to the wild­flower mead­ow in the out­door area.

Detailed infor­ma­tion on sus­tain­abil­i­ty efforts in the logis­tics sec­tor can be found in the the­mat­ic book­let “Cli­mate Pro­tec­tion and Eco­log­i­cal Sus­tain­abil­i­ty in Logis­tics” at:

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