Utility EnBW has started constructing Germany’s largest support-free solar power farm on the outskirts of Berlin. The solar farm with an area of 164 hectares and installed capacity of 187 megawatts (MW) will supply electricity to about 50,000 households and save nearly 130,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, the energy company said. Operation is scheduled to commence later in 2020, although a public commencement ceremony has had to be cancelled due to the current precautions taken against the novel coronavirus outbreak. “This solar farm is our first support-free renewables project,” said EnBW‘s Dirk Güsewell, calling it a “milestone” for solar power in Germany that “proves this technology is market-ready.” The plant has a planned lifespan of 40 years, EnBW added.
Meanwhile, Germany’s national solar power lobby group BSW has warned that the coronavirus outbreak could have a severe impact on the expansion of renewable power technology in the country. Major projects could lose their eligibility for support because legal deadlines could not be met due to supply bottlenecks for solar panel components but also staff shortages at construction and building authorities. BSW Solar head Carsten Körnig called on the government to extend implementation deadlines for solar power projects, arguing that “force majeure events like this one must not lead to the failure of valuable climate projects and threaten companies in their existence.”
Germany’s solar power industry in recent years has regained its business confidence, after taking a severe hit at the beginning of the last decade due to cheap Chinese competition, which has led to a wave of bankruptcies. However, a looming support cap for solar power that becomes effective once the country reaches a total installed capacity of 52 MW, which is forecast for the next months, is expected to choke off many smaller projects.