The completion of the 166-megawatt (DC) Senftenberg solar power plant in Germany hasn’t made the same news as last year’s largest solar projects to come online. But it’s one of the first photovoltaic projects to break the 100-megawatt barrier & to take a major lead forward in the Solar Industry.
Canadian Solar announced that the second and third phases of the solar farm, comprising 148 megawatts of its photovoltaics, were commissioned on Sept 24, 2011. Last year, both the 80-megawatt Sarnia power plant in Ontario, Canada—which came online one year ago (Oct. 4, 2010) and the 85-megawatt Montalto di Castro park in Lazio, Italy, which came online in December 2010, made bigger headlines. Some reports say the Sarnia system is the largest at 95 megawatts to 97 megawatts, but plant owner Enbridge said it is 80 megawatts. Either way, Senftenberg is nearly double the size of the previous record holders.
Canadian Solar Inc, one of the world’s largest solar companies, located at Munich has supplied 636,000 solar modules for the world’s largest solar complex in southern Brandenburg, Germany. Canadian Solar provided 148 MW of the system’s total 166 MW to its two partners, saferay and GP JOULE. A portion of the system’s core output, approximately 78 MW, was implemented by saferay.
The system will be able to produce enough green energy for the usage needs of approximately 50,000 homes. The park was inaugurated by Prime Minister Matthias Platzeck on September 24. The inauguration ceremony was held on the premises of the Senftenberg II/III solar power plant. The Senftenberg II/III system was built on 200 hectares of the former Meuro surface mining plant in three months. The premises are properties of the Agrargenossenschaft Grossraeschen Eg Coop. providing space for 330,000 crystalline solar modules.
Even now, in a country with fewer sun hours like Germany, can produce energy cheaper than offshore wind power systems, for instance. The solar park development effort was initiated by Berlin-based project development company Unlimited energy GmbH. Besides establishing the required legal framework, Unlimited energy focused on environmental protection in the plant’s design. They have established a total of 24 hectares just for the larks alone, outside the PV system. Moreover, the PV module rows are embedded into splendid wind protection belts and green belts that can become a welcoming habitat for birds and other species. Also, in the concept design for area maintenance, there is a strong focus on the protection of plants and animals.
With the Senftenberg project, they show that large-scale photovoltaic systems are faster to develop and build than any other type of power plant. While the German plant can for now claim the title of “world’s largest” photovoltaic plant, it’s not likely to keep the title for long. Other projects, like the 250-megawatt California Valley Solar Ranch being built by SunPower, Corp. are likely to outshine the Senftenber power plant relatively soon and claim the mantle as their own. Whereas, the largest planned photovoltaic plant, the 2 gigawatt Ordos Solar Project in China, isn’t expected to come online until 2019.