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21 April 2009


First Solar secures financing for 53MW German plant

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA, which makes thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe), and renewable energy firm Juwi Holding AG have secured financing for a 53MW DC photovoltaic (PV) power plant near the German city of Cottbus.

More than 80% of the required project capital is financed through non-recourse debt from a consortium of banks. First Solar and Juwi intend to sell the majority of the project after its completion. Construction began in January, and the first 15MW has been completed. The remaining 38MW is scheduled for completion by the end of 2009.

The project is being constructed on 162 hectares of land that is part of the 26,000 hectare former Soviet Army Lieberose training area north of Cottbus in eastern Germany. The firms say that its low cost enables the required return to fund an attractive land lease for the State of Brandenburg. This, in turn, finances the environmental cleanup of the former military zone, which is littered with tons of land mines, grenades and other munitions.

The project is a model for the conversion of former military land to productive use, according to Matthias Platzeck, minister president of the German state government of Brandenburg. “This kind of project helps us heal the scars of the Cold War and meet our ambitious targets for renewable energy production at the same time,” he says.

This project alone is expected to displace about 35,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year, says Stephan Hansen, managing director of First Solar GmbH in Mainz, Germany. “Not only will the project produce clean electricity, but it will also result in the removal of hazardous munitions from this project site,” he adds.

Upon completion, the PV power plant will consist of about 700,000 modules and is projected to be the largest in Germany (producing enough power to provide for the annual electricity needs of more than 14,000 homes) and the second largest worldwide. “The sheer size of the project helps us achieve economies of scale that are a significant factor in helping PV energy become competitive with fossil fuels and to be able to provide an increasing contribution to national renewable energy targets,” says Hansen.

“Large projects like this one demonstrate that solar power is already capable of making significant contributions to addressing climate change,” claims Juwi's chief executive Matthias Willenbacher. “With this project, Juwi, using First Solar modules, has developed the three largest PV power plants in Germany," he adds.

See related items:

CdTe PV maker First Solar to build 48MW plant for Sempra

First Solar to acquire multi-Gigawatt utility-scale PV project business

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