Solar Energy System of the Month:

The world’s largest photovoltaic solar power plant is in Pocking

On the former military training area in the Lower-Bavarian town of Pocking, sheep are now grazing under and around 57 912 high-tech photovoltaic modules. The Pocking solar park with its peak performance of 10 Megawatt (MWp) is currently the largest one-piece photovoltaic solar power plant worldwide. On April 27th 2006 the photovoltaic power plant that noiselessly transforms sunlight into electricity officially started its operation in the administrative district Passau/Bavaria. Since March 16th this plant was fully connected to the electricity network and was inaugurated exactly one day after the 20th anniversary of the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl and thus is an impressive proof of the fact that renewables are busy replacing fossil-nuclear energy sources.


PV modules as far as the eye can see: in Pocking electricity comes from the sun. PV modules as far as the eye can see: in Pocking electricity comes from the sun.
PV modules as far as the eye can see: in Pocking electricity comes from the sun. Photos: Martin Bucher

If the mono- or polycrystalline photovoltaic modules were placed in a single row, they would stretch over 75 kilometers. "These are dimensions with large effects,” project initiator and developer Dipl.-Ing. Martin Bucher announces gladly. "With this solar park we can provide approximately 3 300 single family homes with environmentally friendly electricity. We will be saving the environment an amount of approx. 10 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year – this corresponds to the amount of CO2 that a forest covering an area of 1 000 hectares absorbs during its growth,” Bucher explains. Martin Bucher Projektentwicklungen (Stuttgart), Shell Solar GmbH (Munich) and CommerzLeasing und Immobilien AG (Düsseldorf) jointly established the grid connected solar power plant on the 32 hectare property that was formerly used for military training in Pocking in Bavaria. The total surface area of the modules amounts to approx. 7.5 hectares (75 000 square metres), i.e. 10 soccer fields.

Martin Bucher, a professional engineer, is among the most experienced project developers in the solar sector and he initiated and co-ordinated this record-sized project. With the strong support by the town of Pocking, the administrative district of Passau, the provincial government and the surrounding communities, the project obtained all approvals in record times. Shell Solar as overall constructor is responsible for the turn-key installation of the entire plant.

Rows of PV modules in Pocking A view of the sub-structures.
Rows of PV modules in Pocking, a view of the sub-structures. Photos: Martin Bucher

Solar power park with peak solar irradiation

Construction and assembly of the solar power plant in Pocking started in August 2005. In March 2006 the plant was completed. The solar park is located in one of Germany’s sunniest areas. According to the German Weather Service, the average irradiation amounts to 1 121 kilowatt hours per square metre and year (kWh/m2; thus over 10 years an average of between 1990 and 2000). In comparison to the conventional electricity mix, the solar park will save the environment approx. 200 000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the next 20 years.

The solar power plant consists of six units with a performance of 1.67 MW each, that are connected in parallel to the high-voltage network of the energy company E.ON Bavaria. Four inverters per unit transform the direct current of the solar modules into alternating current; a total of six transformers ensure that this current can be fed into the network at an extra-high voltage of 20 000 volt. The solar modules are mounted in four rows on aluminium sub-structures that have a total length of approx. 16.5 kilometres. The foundations were fixed with 8 112 earth bolts that have a minimal sealing impact on the ground.

Shell modules in the Pocking solar park. Shell modules in the Pocking solar park.
Shell modules in the Pocking solar park. Photos: Martin Bucher

The system is designed to ensure the highest possible energy production and is based on the successful master-slave concept developed by Shell Solar. Shell Solar GmbH is part of the Shell Solar Group. Shell Solar currently has distributed a total capacity of over 450 MW from solar cells and modules world-wide. These are used for private households as well as large-scale PV generators. Over 250 000 clients were provided with network-linked as well as stand-alone solar systems. On February 2nd of 2006 Shell Solar announced that they intend to sell off their silicium activities in order to be able to focus on the next generation of solar technology, including CIS (copper indium di-selenide).

Administrative Head of the District and Mayor are proud of “their” photovoltaic solar power plant

The Head of the Administrative District of Passau, Hanns Dorfner, and the Mayor of the City of Pocking, Josef Jakob, praised the good and professional co-operation with the company Martin Bucher Projektentwicklungen and all other role-players involved. They unanimously emphasised, ” We are proud to have the largest solar power plant world-wide in the Administrative District of Passau. It makes an important contribution to a well-balanced energy mix.” Dorfner and Jakob were also satisfied that a large portion of the former military training area is now being used for an ecologically sensible purpose. The area is being utilised by a full-time appointed shepherd, who has 600 ewes and 200 lambs on this property of 32 hectares.

Solar energy and sheep rearing: the former military training area in Pocking now serves a dual purpose. Solar energy and sheep rearing: the former military training area in Pocking now serves a dual purpose.
Solar energy and sheep rearing: the former military training area in Pocking now serves a dual purpose. Photos: Martin Bucher

Even during preparations for the construction, project developer Bucher analysed the parts of the former military training area with extensive tests and historical surveys as to hazardous waste from the past. He was confident, “that the example set in Pocking would lead to many consequential projects within and outside the borders of Germany.”

Developer Bucher.

PV modules.
Developer Bucher; PV modules. Pictures: Martin Bucher

The provision of inside and outside capital for this project and the operation of the solar system which amount to approxiately 40 million euro was ensured by CommerzLeasing und Immobilien AG (Düsseldorf) in co-operation with the Bayerische Landesbank and the Sparkasse Passau. CommerzLeasing und Immobilien-Gruppe has been present in the market with its services for the past 35 years and operates internationally. It encompasses CommerzLeasing und Immobilien AG, 15 subsidiaries and 3 holding companies as well as approximately 1 000 property companies. The clients of this 100% Commerzbank subsidiary include reputable companies from all sectors of private and municipal business.

Dipl.-Ing. Bucher , "Father" of open-space solar projects has proven his competence over many years and has won the trust of providers of open spaces, local authorities, project partners and investors. The photovoltaic solar power plants built under his management amount to an investment volume of over 125 million euro. As is customary in Bavaria, this large-scale project was inaugurated and dedicated to its task by spiritual leaders. In Pocking this was done jointly by an Evangelical pastor and a Catholic priest.

Inauguration of the photovoltaic solar power plant in Pocking.
Inauguration of the photovoltaic solar power plant in Pocking.
Inauguration of the photovoltaic solar power plant in Pocking. Photos: Martin Bucher


Materials and photos: Martin Bucher Projektentwicklungen. Solarserver Editor: Rolf Hug

 

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