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German Firm Builds Floating Solar Plant on Quarry Lake

April 20, 2022 by Dan McCue
One of the largest Floating-PV solar energy plants in Germany. (Photo courtesy BayWa r.e.)

MUNICH, Germany — Germany’s global renewable energy developer BayWa r.e. plans to turn on a floating solar power plant next month, a potential game changer in the sector that could help further reduce the country’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the company, which is part of the Munich-based BayWa Group conglomerate, told The Well News the service, which consists of 5,800 solar modules on 360 floating elements, will go into service on May 24.

The plant has been installed on a quarry lake at the family-owned Quarzwerke in the western German town of Haltern am See. Once it goes into service, the facility will be able to provide 3 MW of power, roughly the same output as a typical onshore wind turbine.

BayWa r.e. said the floating solar farm will produce around 3 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, preventing roughly 1,100 tons in carbon emissions each year.

Quarzwerke plans to use 75% of the solar-produced electricity for its own operations and will feed the rest of the energy the solar farm produces into the public grid.

“Following the construction of two highly efficient combined heat and power plants in recent years, we are investing further in the sustainable ecological future of the company with one of Germany’s largest floating photovoltaic plants,” said Daniel Duric, plant manager at Quarzwerke Haltern in a written statement.

“By using the green electricity we produce ourselves, we can significantly reduce our CO2 emissions,” Duric added.

Project Manager Markus Schramm is similarly enthused, saying the project puts the company “in a leading position in terms of sustainability and allows us to further reduce our carbon footprint as a producer of high-quality industrial minerals.”

BayWa r.e. is the market leader when it comes to floating-PV solar deployments in Europe, and it is actively involved in renewable energy-related projects in 29 countries.

“With the new German government’s goal of generating 80% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030, newer solar applications such as agri-PV and floating-PV are increasingly coming into focus alongside roof and ground-mounted solar systems,” said Toni Weigl, head of product management floating-PV at BayWa r.e.

“Floating-PV systems are environmentally friendly and have the advantage of comparatively simple and quick installation, higher potential energy output — thanks to the cooling effect of water — and lower operating and maintenance costs,” he said. “We now hope that the new German government will swiftly improve the framework conditions for floating-PV, as already stated in the coalition agreement.”

To date, all floating-PV projects in Germany have been built within the funding framework of the EEG (German Renewable Energy Act). 

With this latest project, BayWa r.e. officials say the company has demonstrated that plants can be operated economically even without subsidies from the EEG, if sufficient electricity is used for their own consumption. 

“Floating-PV offers an attractive investment opportunity for companies in the raw materials and building materials industries, which often own idle or only partially used expanses of water,” said Stephan Auracher, managing director, BayWa r.e. Power Solutions GmbH. 

“These areas hold immense untapped potential for the energy transition. With our turnkey floating-PV systems, our years of expertise and attractive self-consumption and financing models, we ensure the best possible economic solution for our customers,” Auracher said. 

“Together with Quarzwerke, we are pioneering the technology with Germany’s first subsidy-free floating-PV system and view this as the starting signal for the further adoption of this solar application in Germany.”

Despite the promise of the technology, the company spokesperson told The Well News this week that BayWa r.e. doesn’t have plans to deploy its floating technology in the United States in the near future.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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