At the German solar service stations, based in Hamburg, drivers of electric vehicles will be able to charge them with solar electricity in return for a contribution to the costs. The rest of the solar power generated will go to the local grid.

In the Netherlands, the service stations at Meerkerk and Wezep, in the Netherlands, will use the power generated themselves. They will need to top that up, but in an agreement with electricity company, NUON, the remaining power used will be exclusively provided from renewable energy sources via the regional grid.

More solar service stations are planned – eight more will be opened in Germany later this year, says Shell.

According to Chief Executive of Shell Solar, Willem Jan van Wijk, “Solar power is beginning to play an increasing role in everyday use. These solar service stations represent a very tangible step for us to take in improving the quality of the environment we live in. Introducing the use of solar power in our retail operations is a demonstration of the Shell Group’s commitment to sustainable development and to developing commercial opportunities in the renewable energy market.”

The four sites will use different solar energy systems in order to test various techniques for environmental friendly power generation at industrial locations. One of the German sites, the Steilshooper Allee service station, is fitted with a ‘solar tracker’. This is a special ‘collector’ surface which moves round to track the position of the sun, providing 30% more energy yield than conventional systems with the same number of solar cells.

Customers using the sites will also be able to obtain information about solar power for domestic use and general information on renewable energy. Both projects are being managed in co-operation with regional electricity companies, HEW (the Hamburg Electricity Works) and the Dutch NUON company.

Shell is currently constructing its second solar factory in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Set to be the world’s largest, it will produce around 13 million solar cells a year.

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