How a former military airport became an environmentally friendly supplier of electricity. It is barely believable: just 20 years ago fighter bombers and supersonic aircraft from the Red Army's 126th fighter pilot division would regularly take off at the former Zerbst military airport, flying in the skies over Germany.
Today it is a different story: farmers have leased dugouts for hay and straw. Deer and hares are a regular sight on the park. And between May and October last year, one of the biggest plants for the production of solar energy was constructed in the centre of the site: Zerbst Photovoltaics Park.
The solar power station is made up of five individual smaller solar parks and can achieve an output of 46 Megawatt-peak (MWp).
The figures for the first section alone are impressive: 36,480 modules, 7,600 driven piles and 760 module tables were constructed over an area of approx. 23.1 hectares in just five weeks and connected together. A module area amounting to a good 5.8 hectares was constructed, which has also been connected with 36 kilometres of medium voltage cable. Total output: 8.57 MWp. This section is surrounded by a 2.3 kilometre long fence.
All five sections, each of which is operated as an individual company, have now been fully installed on a total surface area of 108 hectares. And in this context the figures are even more impressive. In total, 194,256 modules, each with 235 Watts have been installed, with their surface area totalling 235,000 square meters or 23.5 hectares. There are also 30 inverters, each with 1,250 kVA (Kilowatt Ampere) and four inverters with 650 kVA. In total, 4,047 tables have been built, on which 48 modules are installed. This required 40,000 driven piles. The length of the fence surrounding the individual systems is 12 kilometres.
All in all over 50 million euros have been invested in the park - "An investment in the future," explains Chris Döhring.
The environmentally friendly electricity is directed into the power network of the power network operator via an on-site substation before being sent to households: "So far we have not experienced any problems from power network operators refusing to accept our electricity, because we produce too much renewable energy," highlights Chris Döhring, who would also like to bring wind turbines and a biomass power plant to the site of the airport.
The owner and leaseholder of the Zerbst military airport is GETEC AG, which has become a market leader in the acquisition of energy services and supply services since its establishment in 1993. In October 2010 the GETEC Group established another new company: GETEC green energy AG. Its primary focus is the "development of energy production and energy distribution systems on a renewable basis as well as their construction, operation and marketing (electricity, heat, bio-methane). A further task of GETEC green energy AG is the consistent further development of climate-neutral energy generation .
Their biggest project, however, is currently the Zerbst Solarpark: "If we assume that an average family consumes 4,000 Kilowatts of electricity in 12 months, our system is able cover the annual needs of over 11,500 households," explains Getec green energy executive, Chris Döhring. "Through the production of climate-friendly solar power in Zerbst the annual emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) fall by a good 25,000 tonnes."
And there is even more good news: "The special thing about our solar park is that we are making sustainable use of a brown-field site which might otherwise have gone unused," explains Chris Döhring. "Also, with our project, we are proving that formerly unused and polluted areas can be integrated into nature once again, as well as being put to sensible economic use at the same time."
And he's right, as nature is indeed making a big comeback at Zerbst military airport: grass is growing on the old asphalt areas, houses and old buildings are now surrounded by all manner of vegetation. And then there is the wildlife which can live here undisturbed and stress-free: "We have clear utilisation ideas for approx. 400 hectares on the entire site," explains Chris Döhring, before continuing, "a good 100 hectares are contaminated or incorporate halls, houses, roads or bunkers. Areas which nature should reclaim so that biotopes can develop there."
As far as the spokesman of GETEC green energy AG is concerned, this kind of harmony between the economy and nature is decisive for a favourable environmental policy. "The use of areas like these prevents other areas - such as agricultural areas - from being built over and sealed up." It is for this reason that Chris Döhring fails to understand why the German government is only allowing future solar power plants with a performance of 10 MWp: "Those require a maximum of just 25 hectares. When you think of how many huge brown-field sites there are in eastern Germany alone which could be put to excellent use with solar parks and integrated into nature at the same time, this decision is hard to believe. And we shouldn't forget that we don't have to use other land resources either."
Incidentally: the solar plant was constructed by the photovoltaics firm Q-Sells SE. The company, based in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, registered insolvency at the beginning of April before subsequently being taken over by the South Korean conglomerate Hanwha, and is once again on the up: "We will continue to work with Q-Cells in the future," says Chris Döhring.
GETEC green energy
Albert-Vater-Straße 50 - 52
Tel.: +49 391-2568-400
Fax: +49 391 2568-419