|Lieberose: Germany’s largest solar farm.|
The Lieberose solar farm under construction in Brandenburg, Germany has become the world’s second largest solar power plant and Germany’s largest. The status was achieved following the placement of the 560,000th solar panel in the project by German Infrastructure Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee and Brandenburg Minister President Matthias Platzeck.
The solar farm, which is still under construction in Turnow-Preilack, near Cottbus, is in several ways a landmark project for the solar industry. Despite the current economic and financial crisis, the two founding companies — juwi Group and First Solar — are building a utility-scale project with a total investment volume of more than 160 million euro. With an output of about 53 megawatts and with a size of more than 210 football fields, it is the second-largest photovoltaic installation in the world.
“The Lieberose project demonstrates the success of Germany’s strategy of combining local production of renewable energies with other strengths, including the knowledge and expertise that resides in local companies, networks, research organizations and universities. It’s the combination that makes German competitiveness,” German Infrastructure Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee told 300 invited guests at the official inauguration.
“Lieberose is a model not just in terms of power and financing, but also in the conversion of military and other unused land,” said Platzeck. “Land that was contaminated and off limits for years is being cleared of munitions and other pollution without any financial burden on the owner of the land, the state. The Lieberose solar park is an important step toward making solar electricity a significant force in the local economy,” he added.
The project is being developed on the largest former military training site of the Soviet army in Germany. Due to the relatively low investment and operating costs, it is possible to pay Brandenburg an attractive lease that finances the restoration of the site, including the removal of metal and soil contaminated by leftover grenades, shrapnel and munitions. After the end of the lease period, the solar farm can be removed, restoring the land to its natural state.
“We aim to enable a global power supply with clean and cost-efficient solar energy. The Lieberose project alone will help save about 35,000 tons of CO2 per year,” says First Solar Managing Director Stephan Hansen and juwi Head Matthias Willenbacher. “We are especially proud of this project, because it is also ‘clean’ in another sense of that word. It is not only generating clean energy, but also ensures the removal of dangerous munitions.”
As general contractor, juwi partner juwi Solar GmbH is responsible for planning, logistics, supervising construction, and delivering the finished solar farm, which is expected to be sold to an investor upon completion. “Solar farms such as Lieberose are very important for the future of all of the renewable energies,” said Willenbacher and Hansen. “By their size and the efficiency with which the solar panels are produced, they contribute to significantly lower prices and to accelerating the advent of competitive solar electricity. This clearly increases the acceptance of solar energy,” they said.
The solar power station will cover an area of 162 hectares with a module surface area of approximately 500,000 square meters.
Lieberose is scheduled to be fully operational by the end of this year. Upon completion, about 700,000 thin film modules, predominantly from First Solar’s nearby Frankfurt/Oder factory, will produce enough climate-friendly electricity to cover the equivalent electricity needs of about 15,000 households. In addition to producing the solar panels, First Solar helped finance the project.
The juwi group was founded in 1996 by Matthias Willenbacher and Fred Jung. The CEOs together transformed the company from a two-person operation focusing on wind farm project development into an internationally active group with around 500 employees and an annual turnover of more than 400 million euros. As well as solar power and bioenergy, juwi also specializes in wind and water power, and geothermal energy. To date, juwi has installed more than 300 wind turbines producing a total output of over 450 MW, while in the solar sector, juwi has set up around 800 photovoltaic systems with a total capacity of more than 220,000 KW as of December 2008. Willenbacher and Jung also share a common goal: energy supply from purely regenerative sources – 100% dedication to 100% renewable energies, embodied in the company’s “100% renewable” campaign.
First Solar, Inc. manufactures solar modules with an advanced semiconductor technology and provides comprehensive photovoltaic solutions that significantly reduce solar electricity costs. By enabling clean, renewable electricity at competitive prices, First Solar provides an economic and environmentally responsible alternative to existing peaking fossil-fuel electric generation. First Solar photovoltaic power plants operate with no water, air emissions, or waste stream. First Solar set the benchmark for environmentally responsible product life cycle management by introducing the industry’s first comprehensive collection and recycling program for solar modules. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life collection and recycling, First Solar is focused on creating cost-effective renewable energy solutions that protect and enhance the environment.
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