The sun shines a bit more in Härnösand

When the sun comes up over Södra Sundet in Härnösand, a whirring sound is heard up on the roof of the medical centre. This is the sound of eight solar panels aligning themselves with the sun to produce power, heat and cold for the radiography department three flights down during the day.

“We use a lot of energy and then we also need to take our responsibility, says Elisabeth Strömqvist, Chairperson of the County Council of Västernorrland Executive Committee.  Our work has double objectives – to save money and the environment.

The eight unique solar collectors on the roof concentrate the sunlight on solar cells that produce power. The surplus heat from the solar cells heats shower water and operates the solar cooling system. Solar cooling is produced by first drying a salt that then cools water. 

Solar Cooling at Hospital Roof-top

Elisabet Stromqvist with the solar panels that produce heat and power for the hospital. Photo: Anders Eliasson

The system was opened in April 2010 and is part of Cleantech Demonstration Arena, a collection of unique green technology installations that were designed to receive visitors. The aim is to develop methods for spreading and demonstrating new green technology.

“Cleantech is still a young industry, but it has great potential. Personally, I believe that it is important to show new technology – people are inspired when they can see that there are solutions to tackle the environmental problems. They go on and start thinking on what they can do them self, like saving paper, recycling, turning of the lights and using an electric kettle”, says Elisabet Strömqvist.

Härnösand – a new solar energy centre

Härnösand, a small town in northern Sweden with just under 25,000 inhabitants, has become a centre for solar energy in a short space of time. In addition to the installation on the medical centre, there is a two-year solar energy course, the solar energy laboratory Lumicum and a research foundation.

The mastermind is Härnösand resident and solar enthusiast Joakim Byström, who is the CEO of the solar energy company Absolicon. 

“When I was 12, I built my first solar panel, so I have been interested in solar energy all my life,” says Joakim Byström. His commitment to environmental issues gave him a place for Sweden at the UN.

“The Kyoto negotiations were a major disappointment. I suddenly understood that I could do more for the world by developing my solar panels than by being involved in political negotiations.”

Joakim Byström

Joakim Byström, solar energy entrepreneur in Härnösand. Photo Kristofer Lönnå

The X10 solar panel follows the sun during the day and is designed for large buildings with flat roofs. The prize-winning design aroused a lot of attention. With EUR 1 million from committed business angels, the company developed fast and is now the world leader for solar panels that produce power and heat at the same time.

A foretaste of the future

The installation on the roof of the medical centre in Härnösand is unique. Nowhere else in the world is there a system that produces power, heat and cold simultaneously with concentrated solar energy. This solar energy installation is a foretaste of the future.

“According to the EU, all new public buildings must be energy self-sufficient and we show here practically how this can easily be done by using concentrating solar panels,” says Joakim Byström, who welcomes the new Act.

The Country Councils main responsibility is public health and it operates three regional hospitals. For the County Council and the inhabitants of Västernorrland, the installation has major symbolic value.

“The installation is a valuable symbol as it stands for long-term planning, something that is key to the County Council of Västernorrland. It is an issue of health how we use our regional resources, and we want to use solar energy as it is such a strong positive force, says Elisabet Stromqvist.