Zimmermann is a leading manufacturer of agricultural housing with a 50-year tradition. Located in Germany - with branches and agencies in Canada, USA, Turkey, Great Britain, France, Spain, and Australia - Zimmermann export their wide range of products, including their Zim Float photovoltaic (PV) system with Magnelis® from ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products, to global markets.

Zimmermann began to produce mounting structures for the photovoltaic industry in 2009. Renowned for their high-quality products, they have supplied mounting structures with a total capacity of over 3.3 GWp thus far.

Fast installation and a reliable steel supplier

Zimmermann’s customers often require fast installation of the Zim Float system. To meet this goal, Managing Director Mr Holger Krug wanted a reliable and flexible steel supplier. “There is an excellent relationship between ArcelorMittal and Zimmermann. Quality is one of the most important considerations for us, but we also appreciate ArcelorMittal’s flexibility,” states Mr Krug.

The Zim Float PV system with Magnelis®

While it is common to find solar energy panels on land, Zimmermann designed a system in 2017 to make use of bodies of water for energy generation. The Zim Float PV system can be implemented on almost any body of freshwater, making it a great option for areas where land use is in high demand. Thanks to the high-quality design of the system, the lake keeps the PV modules cool maximising the efficiency of the solar panels. The structures themselves shield the water from the sun limiting evaporation.

When searching for a solution for the long-term viability of the Zim Float system, Zimmermann turned to ArcelorMittal. They involved ArcelorMittal R&D to address their concerns about the use of steel on water. Discussions with ArcelorMittal technical experts resulted in the decision that Magnelis® was the optimal solution.

The Zim Float relies on a structure composed of about 80 percent Magnelis®. It is used in the support structures for the solar panels and the walkways used by maintenance personnel. The innovative design of the Zim Float ensures that three-quarters of the Magnelis® is covered by panels which protect it from rain.

Alleviating environmental concerns

The system is designed to cope with the high wind loads and freezing conditions found in the Netherlands, where the first Zim Float system was installed. Before the first Zim Float could be installed, Zimmermann required regulatory approval from the Dutch environmental authorities. A key concern for the environmental agencies was the level of zinc runoff from the corrosion protection system. The use of Magnelis® meant that zinc runoff was minimised as runoff is four times less than that of galvanised steel, and it is completely recyclable at the end of the PV system’s life - both of which met the requirements of the environmental authorities.