Bad Kreuznach, Germany [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] For some years, the City Solar group from Bad Kreuznach has been designing, constructing and operating large photovoltaic power plants with a capacity of at least 1 megawatt (MW). However, up to now, the company has exclusively been active in Germany. Now the company has succeeded in penetrating the European market. At the beginning of August, the go-ahead was given for a large, multi-megawatt interconnected photovoltaic (PV) solar park to be built in the Spanish province of Alicante.There, the group will construct and operate, on behalf of a group of investors, 200 individual installations producing 100 kilowatts (kW) each with an overall capacity for the project of 20 MW. The solar park will be completed by late summer 2007. The group is aiming to connect 20 100-kW plants (a total 2 MW), to the grid every four to five weeks. City Solar admitted this plan is ambitious but not unrealistic — particularly because they have accumulated a lot of experience in the construction of power plants. These include three German solar parks in Gottelborn, Saarbrucken and Sembach with a maximum capacity of 4 MW. In addition, City Solar had, early on, been searching out local partners in Spain to cooperate on solar projects. The solar park will be built on an overall area of approximately 500,000 square meters, which equals the size of 71 football grounds. In total, almost 100,000 polycrystalline modules of the “City Solar PQ 200” type will be installed to provide 24,000 households with approximately 30 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of solar power a year. This solar park will help cut the carbon dioxide output by 30,000 tons a year. Along with Japan and the U.S., Germany is among the leading solar nations worldwide. The German market has grown with the same vitality as the international photovoltaic market in recent years. In 2004 alone, solar power plants with a nominal power of some 360 megawatt peak (MWp) were installed in Germany. Costs for solar produced electricity have decreased by 70% between 1990 and 2005. At the same time, there has been a more than tenfold increase in production capacity for solar energy technology since 1999. A driving motor for this growth is Germany’s 2000 Renewable Energy Law (EEG). Its goal is “…in the interest of climate and environmental protection to facilitate a lasting development of energy supply and to significantly increase the contribution of renewable energy to electricity supply.” Regional energy providers are obliged to take solar produced energy at legally set tariffs for 20 years. In this way, the EEG creates a secure calculation base for those wishing to invest in solar power plants. On the first of 2004, the German government again increased the power purchase price per unit — a clear message that solar energy would continue to be promoted. According to the association of solar energy producing companies Solarwirtschaft e.V. (UVS), German solar companies created approximately 5,000 new jobs in 2004. This brings the number of people employed in the solar industry to about 20,000. In the next years, UVS expects an annual increase in the numbers employed of 20 to 25 percent. Solar power plants on flat surfaces are called ground level power plants. The enormous scale of the construction is cost efficient. In addition, a southerly orientation to the sun is always feasible. To install a power plant with a nominal power of 1 (MWp), an area of about 20,000 to 25,000 meters-squared is needed, depending on the site. The solar modules are mounted on metal supports, the height of which varies between 1.8 and 2.5 meters. To avoid shading, a distance must be maintained between the rows of supports. Depending on the geographical degree of latitude, the incline of the site and the height of the supports, this distance is between 5 and 10 meters. For City Solar, preference is given to converted land, such as former industrial and military areas as well as industrial real estate. On completion of building work, the company leaves the area of the power plant to develop naturally, apart from regular technical maintenance. Sheep graze the land and use it in an ecologically sensible way, according to nature conservation experts.