Rays of sun travel 150 million kilometres before reaching the roofs of Bechtle’s headquarters in Neckarsulm. A total of 5,285 solar modules produce energy that flows not only into use in the IT company’s office buildings, but also into one of the largest charging stations in Germany. The latest section of the photovoltaic system was put into operation in 2018, and geothermal energy acquisition at Bechtle’s headquarters is to be expanded by two geothermal fields in 2019.
Since the headquarters moved to Neckarsulm in 2004, office and warehouse space have been extended in several construction projects and supplemented with photovoltaic systems. In March 2016, the diggers came back. But this time, they brought renewable energy from roof to foundations. Because in addition to the photovoltaic system mounted on the roof, under the new building are 72 holes drilled 48 metres deep, forming a geothermal field that supplies the warehouse with heating in winter and cooling in summer.
One year later, in 2017, the energy concept was taken a step further with the development of the cutting-edge employee multi-storey car park, with a second geothermal field of 110 holes to supply power to office buildings. The photovoltaic systems installed on the roof of the car park generate a maximum of 525 kilowatt peaks (kWp) and supply one of the largest charging stations in Germany. The 50 charging points are built into the basement of the 1,574-space car park. “In the mid-term, the number of electric and hybrid company cars is set to rise and to support this, the car park has been equipped with the necessary charging points,” explained Uli Drautz, Head of Corporate Controlling, Bechtle AG. All-together, the charging stations can provide up to 22 kW of power, and the main circuitry is kept separate from the actual charging points in a space-saving central plant room. Moreover, when the charging points are not in use, no power flows to them, ensuring high levels of safety are fulfilled.
“We’re now able to manage charging so that power only flows where we want it to. This allows us to set different priorities for each charging point,” says Bernd Britsch, Environmental Management Representative for Bechtle AG. If the sun disappears behind the clouds, however, there is the option to use power from the national grid network.
Bechtle covers ten per cent of its own headquarters’ energy requirements from renewable sources. The photovoltaic systems provide nominal power of more than 1,349 kWp which could amount under optimum conditions to some 1,282,500 kWh annually, saving 676 tonnes of CO₂. If fed into the public grid, this energy could theoretically supply the annual power used by 321 four-person households. And Bechtle’s investment into renewable energy sources is already paying off at some branches—all power required for heating and air-conditioning at the Gaildorf branch comes from the ground, and there are also geothermal systems at Bechtle Karlsruhe and Freiburg im Breisgau.
The aim is to continue increasing the proportion of renewable energy used in new constructions both at the headquarters and farther afield.