Switzerland’s largest supermarket chain reduces carbon footprint with ABB solar solutions

One of the largest retailers in Switzerland, Coop, has adopted ABB solar inverter technology as part of the company’s ambitious targets to become carbon neutral by 2023.

By strengthening its solar capacity with PV installations of 20'000 sqm on 17 stores, Coop aims to improve efficiency and reduce energy consumption by 20 percent. This latest project will also help Coop to meet its other sustainability targets, including halving its CO2 emissions and increasing the proportion of renewable energy it uses to 80 percent.

The complex installations, located in La Chaux-de-Fonds, near the French border, and the other in Etagnières, in the district of Gros-de-Vaud, include solar panels being installed onto the roof of the two Coop stores and into the façade in Etagnières.

Working alongside leading photovoltaic (PV) planner, energiebüro ag, and installer, Helion, ABB installed seven ABB PVS-100 three-phase outdoor string inverters to service an installed base of 770 kWp, featuring more than 2,500 panels.

Adopting solar power is nothing new to the leading retailer as it currently uses solar energy to power 35 of its facilities including 19 retail stores across the region.

David Guthörl, head of energy in the sustainability unit at Coop, said: “Over the last decade, we have already reduced the average amount of energy we use for cooling in our stores and have made our product ranges and transport systems more sustainable. We were looking to work with our energy partners and use photovoltaics to power more of our stores. This latest investment has taken us one step closer towards our 2023 goal by adopting efficient renewable technologies.”

The PVS-100 range provides an ABB Ability™ cloud connected inverter solution for cost efficient decentralized photovoltaic systems and is suitable for both large-scale commercial and industrial ground mounted and rooftop applications. The inverter technology offers a unique six-in-one, sun-to-socket solution, which is proven to deliver scalability, flexibility, proactive plant management and ease of installation.

It was launched in 2018 to meet increasing market demand for cost-effective platforms offering high-power string inverters. Part of the ABB Ability™ portfolio of digital solutions, the PVS-100 provides proactive control and management of the solar plant with remote monitoring capabilities.

PVS-100 three-phase string inverters installed on the Coop supermarket rooftop
PVS-100 three-phase string inverters installed on the Coop supermarket rooftop

Noah Heynen from Helion said: “We have been working with ABB for several years and its products are proven to deliver reliable and performance ready inverters which help our customers gain the maximum plant efficiencies. The built-in monitoring capabilities of the PVS-100 were also a key draw for us on this project as they enable Coop to control and manage energy consumption rates, remotely and according to need.”

At Coop Switzerland, ABB PVS-100 technology is converting the direct current and the voltage from the solar panels into alternating current which can be fed back into the grid and help companies, like the Coop, manage self- consumption to take control of energy and costs, thereby reducing OPEX costs.

At present, the PV installation at both stores, are among the technologies that are helping the company to reach an energy self-sufficiency rate of 90 percent - 20 percentage points higher than the average commercial application.

“Our PVS-100 inverter is ideal for this type of application where demand for energy fluctuates and is intensive for heating and lighting applications,” explains Giovanni Frassineti, who heads-up ABB’s solar inverter business. “The high power-rating of each inverter, up to 120kW, combined with the integrated DC/AC disconnects, means that fewer units are required for each solar installation. This was an exciting project to be involved with and we are pleased that the retailer is now reaping the reward.”

Since installation, Coop has already reduced its electricity costs and carbon footprint and has plans in place to add an additional 20,000 m2 of solar capacity in 2019.


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