US firm to supply solar panels for major German plant

A US-based company is to supply solar panels for a 40MW solar power plant - one of the biggest in the world - to go up in the Saxon region of Germany, it emerged on Wednesday.

Photovoltaic panel makers First Solar Inc with headquarters in Arizona will supply the 550,000 modules for the 130m euro project. German power company Juwi Solar GmbH is to start construction this spring. The plant should be completed and generating an annual 40 million kWh by the end of 2009.

First Solar use a thin film semiconductor process which lowers the cost of PV panels, and currently produce around 300,000 modules per year. In 2005 this amounted to a total capacity of around 20MW.

Once built, the Saxon solar plant will surpass the 12MW Gut Erlasee Solar Park in Germany’s southern region of Bavaria, the biggest solar plant built so far, but it is difficult to predict where the fast-moving PV power market will be at then.

The plant will generate around 40 million kilowatt hours of carbon-neutral power each year, preventing an estimated 25,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Juwi Solar, part of the Juwi Group active in the wind and biomass as well as solar markets, saw solar as its biggest growth market for 2007, partly thanks to Germany’s favourable policies in this field.

“Thanks to the appropriate political parameters in Germany we’ll be clocking in higher revenues with photovoltaics than with wind energy for the fist time in 2007,” said managing director Matthias Willenbacher. By the end of 2006, the group had over 30MW installed solar capacity.

The company is also expanding its global operations as it prepares several projects in Italy, Spain and Rwanda.

Goska Romanowicz

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