World largest solar powerplant opens in Germany
9 September 2004
ESPENHAIN – The world’s largest solar power station was officially put on stream this week in the eastern German town of Espenhain in a project hailed by Environment Minister Juergen Trittin as advancing the timetable to make the sun’s power cheaper.
The five-megawatt facility, located on a former lignite mine ash deposit, consists of some 33,500 solar modules.
The output equates to the electricity needs of some 1,800 households while sparing the atmosphere of some 3,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, officials said.
“We need this development in the megawatts capacity so that solar power can become cheaper more quickly through the mass production of solar cells,” Trittin, of Germany’s environmentalist Greens party, said about the EUR 22 million project.
He said that Germany’s solar technology industry was seeking to be a world leader in the sector.
“In around 20 years the global annual turnover is going to be over EUR 100 billion,” Trittin predicted about the solar energy sector. “Therefore it is important that Germany achieves long-term success in building up the local market.”
Trittin said that in 15 years’ time solar energy could become competitive with conventional sources. Over the past few years the cost of solar power had been lowered by more than 50 percent, a development which the German government aims to support further.
At the moment, renewable energy accounts for some 10 percent of Germany’s electrical production, Trittin said. The government’s target is to double this by the year 2020, at which point up to 400,000 people would be employed in the sector.
The opening ceremonies at Espenhain, some 30 kilometres south of Leipzig, come a few days before work starts a few kilometres away on a further major solar power station in a EUR 22 million investment.
Partners in the Espenhain solar power station are Shell Solar GmbH, the Gesellschaft für Solarenergie (GEOSOL) and the investment fund WestFond.
GEOSOL is the initiator and project developer, with Shell Solar serving as the prime construction contractor and supplying its high- performance photovoltaic “SQ” series modules.
The Espenhain project is the latest development in the strong growth in the German solar power sector.
The German Solar Power Society DGS said that solar energy output in Germany this year is expected to reach some 500 megawatts produced by around 20 large-scale solar stations and 130,000 private households equipped with panels. In 2002, the output was 195 MW.
Germany’s solar power sector has become increasingly optimistic this year in benefiting from new rules in the country’s Renewable Energy Law (EEG) which require electric power companies to purchase the entire electricity output produced by solar stations at prices well above those from conventional power plants.
UVS, the association of German solar technology companies, has projected that the market for solar power panels in 2004 would reach the equivalent of 300 megawatts, double last year’s volume.
The UVS also said that the industry’s turnover this year was expected to go beyond 1 billion euros for the first time. German solar firms were investing EUR 200 million this year to expand and modernise their plants, while adding some 5,000 new jobs.
The daily newspaper Die Welt also noted the upbeat outlook in the German solar power market in terms of the improved prospects for investment funds for solar projects.
In a report Wednesday titled “Sunny Outlook For Solar Funds”, Die Welt said that the new rules under the EEG law had boosted the profit expectations for solar facilities in comparison to wind energy funds.
Subject: German news