The Age of the PV-Enhanced Industrial Park

A new industrial park is currently under construction in Grosselfingen on the edges of the mountainous Schwabische Alb region in Germany. The main focus of the building design? A 13,000 square-meter (approximately 120,000 square foot) solar electric power plant.

“In fact, the industrial premises only came into being because there is a great deal of space beneath the solar modules,” laughs Martin Hahn, who is investing approximately Euro 10 million [US$13.5 million] in the project. “Whereas others start at the bottom and only think of the benefits of solar power at the end, we did things precisely the other way round.” The 33-year old civil engineer’s reasons for investing in the solar plant project are two-fold. First, there is the opportunity to reap the economic benefits of solar electricity. Second, it eliminates the need to fill up valuable countryside with industrial buildings, the roofs of which “lie around in the sun doing nothing”. That is, they aren’t used for solar power, said Hahn. The project concept is simple: ideally oriented towards the sun, the real estate will reap annual solar electricity earnings amounting to millions of euros. Earnings that will benefit the tenants since, thanks to the integration of photovoltaic (PV) technology, Hahn can set his rents much lower than other industrial premises. The PV-enhanced concept is already proving successful. At the laying of the foundations last month, advance reservations had already been received by prospective tenants wishing to lease space in the park — some of which have already signed contracts. The industrial park will provide a much needed boost to the local economy. Over the last few years, the Zollernalb district has in part developed more slowly than some neighboring districts — at least in certain areas. With his large-scale project, Hahn wants to provide an atmosphere of renewed momentum. “Something has to happen now in the Zollernalb district, which sends out a signal,” explains Hahn. “What could be better than carrying out a project of this kind in a region that is one of the sunniest in Germany?” The Balingen consultancy firm Relatio, which specializes in large solar power plants, was the partnered with Hahn on the project. Relatio sales manager, Andreas Schneider, knows the PV business and is especially delighted with the positive echo throughout the region. “We immediately met with a great deal of support from the district authorities — approval was given just four months after the submission of the planning application,” says Schneider, noting it rapidly became clear that people in Grosselfingen are very receptive to the idea of renewable energy. “There is nothing like it in the Zollenalb district and surrounding area,” notes Schneider. “Just imagine, with its solar roof, this medium-sized industrial center will generate 1.15 million kilowatt-hours a year, just as a by-product.” Built by the Ralos Company, Evergreen solar modules and Xantrex power inverters will be used in the solar power plant. “With the Renewable Energy Law, the German government is expecting investments. Basically, we are only doing what the government expects from us,” added Hahn.
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