MÜNCHEN, 10th January 2024 – The municipality of Windach, situated in Landsberg, Bavaria, has taken a giant step forward in its mission to generate 100% of its electricity supply from renewables, with the installation of a 6.6MW DC-optimized ground mount solar plant. In the first 9 months of operation, the plant generated 6,57 GWh of electricity – enough to power around 2,300 homes – and reduced CO2 emissions by 2.576 tons/tonnes.
The 12,408 module solar array, which began operation in February 2023 of last year, is the latest in a series of initiatives to make Windach more sustainable. Gemeindewerke Windach, which is responsible for energy supply and civil engineering in the municipality, had already installed a number of smaller rooftop solar plants. However, the ground mount project represented a significant ramp-up in its ambitions.
The solar plant borders the A 96 highway to the south between Munich and Memmingen. Fortunately, the area that is particularly favored by the legislature: since the beginning of 2023, it has been mandatory for simplified approval procedures for ground-mounted PV plants along freeways.
However, to ensure the project would receive widespread support, Gemeindewerke Windach canvassed the opinions of various interest groups in the region. This included engaging with local farmers who were concerned that the project would reduce the land available for grazing livestock. This was overcome by entering into a partnership with local shepherds, whose sheep now graze the meadows around the plant. In addition, biodiversity habitats for a variety of wildlife were created around the solar plant.
Further, intensive public relations work was carried out in the run-up to the project to create wider public acceptance for it, explains Florian Zarbo, CEO of Gemeindewerke Windach. “It was important to us to highlight the benefits of the plant. After all, beyond climate protection, there are many other reasons for generating electricity ourselves. For example, Local, decentralized energy generation relieves the strain on the grid and creates greater scope for heat and electricity storage, which will become increasingly relevant in the future.”
When it came to the technical solution, Gemeindewerke Windach had no hesitation in selecting SolarEdge’s DC-optimized inverter technology. “It was important to us that we achieve high energy efficiency and have low maintenance costs in the long term. Because, of course, on such a large surface, there can always be shading and soiling that affects the efficiency of the system,” says Zarbo.
The system uses Power Optimizers which attach directly to solar modules to enable independent operation, meaning the underperformance of one module, for example due to soiling or shading, will not impact the others on the same string, ensuring maximized energy production. Plus, unlike traditional string inverter systems, the SolarEdge solution can be placed at various pitch or orientation – including on uneven ground which is typical in ground mount projects – increasing the number of modules that can be used and the amount of energy produced.
Power Optimizers also offer the ability to track each module individually – a crucial consideration for a project of this size. Should one or more modules start to underperform, the system will provide an automatic alert, identifying the exact units at fault. This will enable personnel to resolve issues quickly and efficiently, reducing the cost of maintenance and helping to keep energy losses to a minimum.
“With the recent spike in energy prices, the solar plant is paying for itself even more rapidly than we had anticipated,” says Zarbo: “However, it would not be what it is without SolarEdge. Thanks to its cutting-edge technology, we are able to maximize energy generation, keep maintenance costs tightly under control, and – thanks to a raft of inbuilt safety features – provide the high level of safety that is crucial for a public project such as this.”