German utility EnBW and renewable power plant operator Energiekontor AG have signed the country’s first contract to supply electricity from a solar power farm built without financial support. The power purchase agreement (PPA) says Energiekontor’s solar farm in northern Germany will supply about 88 gigawatt hours (GWh) per year, equalling the annual power consumption of about 25,000 households, 100 percent of which will be purchased by EnBW, the companies say in a press release. “It enables Energiekontor to build and operate the PV system without subsidies under the German Renewable Energy Act [EEG],” the law that puts a surcharge on customers’ power bills to fund the expansion of renewable energy sources. EnBW says it aims to bring power generation costs of wind and solar farms below that of conventional power plants, and the 15-year PPA contract is just a first step in gearing the utility towards 100 percent renewable power.
Already in 2017, state-owned EnBW was among the first bidders to offer to build an offshore wind power farm in German waters without claiming any financial support. In early February, the utility from southern Germany said it also plans to build the country’s biggest solar power farm without any financial support. PPAs so far have not been widely used to fund renewable power in Germany. However, as many installations will soon start to fall out of their guaranteed 20-year remuneration period, PPAs are seen as a possible solution to keep older wind turbines and solar panels running.