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Case study: CCL discusses Beirut River Solar Snake’s concrete beams

CCL outlines the design and installation of the post-tensioned concrete beams used to support solar panels as part of the Beirut River Solar Snake pilot project

CCL installed 31 supporting beams at 10.8m intervals for the BRSS pilot project.
CCL installed 31 supporting beams at 10.8m intervals for the BRSS pilot project.

Following the successful implementation of the world’s first ‘solar snake’ in Lebanon, CCL has released details of the concrete beams used to support the project’s solar panels.

The 325m-long Beirut River Solar Snake (BRSS) pilot project necessitated the installation of 3,600 crystalline photovoltaic (PV) solar panels over an area of 10,000m2.

Lebanon-based Phoenix Energy was appointed by the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC) as the main contractor for the pilot project, while UK-headquartered CCL designed and installed post-tensioned concrete beams to support the development’s solar panels.

CCL commenced work on the BRSS pilot project in August 2014, and completed the supporting beams’ installation in December 2014. In turn, steel support structures were constructed to form the base for the solar panels.

The PV network was then connected to the grid and commissioned. The initial portion of the solar snake became fully operational in December 2016, and is currently generating 1,655MWh of electricity per year – enough energy to power 10,000 homes.

Tedy Chakhtoura, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) chief operating officer of CCL, explained: “To avoid [the need to install] columns or pillars in the river, the erection of steel beams was initially proposed. However, the cost and corrosion risks of that specification meant that it wasn’t really a viable option.

“CCL’s post-tensioned concrete beams not only addressed the cost and corrosion risk, but also delivered a solution that is strong enough to support the weight of the steel structures and panels, yet light enough to offer a low-profile [system] that is just 1m high.”

The structural engineering firm designed a system wherein the post-tensioned beams spanned the 30m-wide waterway, thus negating the need to lay riverbed foundations for submerged supports.

In total, CCL installed 31 supporting beams at 10.8m intervals for the BRSS pilot project.

Following the successful implementation of pilot project, a 6km extension to the solar snake had been proposed, and was expected to be completed by 2020.

However, according to a source within the LCEC, the BRSS backers have taken the decision to pursue a series of smaller installations across Lebanon instead.

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Construction Week - Issue 725
Jan 19, 2019