Our solar farm at Amercentrale shows how we use conventional power plants to generate renewable energy. The farm has grown substantially over the past few years. In 2018, we started by putting solar panels on the roof of the plant. Later on, we also installed panels in the green areas around it. And since then, we have realised our very first floating solar project on the pond behind the cooling tower. Amer solar farm fits in with our ambition to develop and implement innovative solutions that help make the energy supply and the electricity system more sustainable.
Solar farm on the roof
Since 2018, we have had a solar farm on the roof of the building at our Amercentrale. There are 2,025 solar panels which together produce enough energy to power 150 households a year. That amounts to 525,000 kilowatt hours (kWh). The panels have been installed on the roof at an angle of 10ο, facing south. The whole solar installation weighs around 91,000 kilos which we know the roof can take without any problems. At 71,000 kilos, the paving slabs that keep the panels in place in strong winds account for most of the weight. The current generated by the solar panels is fed into the operating grid at the Amercentrale.
Solar farm on land
On the green areas where the old Amer 4 and 5 units once stood and on the green area next to Amercentrale, we have installed a total of 5,760 solar panels. Those panels stand on 2,160 concrete blocks, each weighing 670 kilos. The panels have been installed at an angle of 15ο, facing south. They produce 2,038,000 kWh per annum which is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of around 560 households. During the construction of the solar farm on land, we used 5 kilometres of aluminium and 15 kilometres of copper cable to connect all the panels to each other and to the 20 inverters. Those inverters convert the direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC).
Floating solar farm
Since 2021, there have been 13,400 solar panels on the former cooling pond at Amercentrale.
It is RWE’s very first floating solar project worldwide and is a fine example of our ongoing commitment to the energy transition. 3.8 of the total of 6.1 hectares of water surface is covered with solar panels that we have installed at an angle of 10ο in an east-west arrangement, with half the panels facing east and the other half facing west. Just like on the roof of a house.
We kept the panels at least 10 metres away from the edge to protect the animals and plants. The pond is not connected to any open water so there are very few fish in it. We installed 52 concrete blocks on the bottom – each weighing 4.6 tons – to which the panels were anchored using sturdy cables. Those nylon cables are partly flexible so that they can move with the wind and water. We used 25 kilometres of electrical cable to connect the panels to the bank and supply the electricity produced to the plant’s power grid.
But can you put electricity and water together? The solar panels, inverters and all the cables are mounted on floats. Each solar panel has its own float. Extra floats were also installed in order to create walkways to allow maintenance to be carried out on the solar farm.
Naturally, all the materials used are water-resistant so that electricity and water go together swimmingly on this former cooling pond.
This time lapse video shows how the floating solar farm is being constructed.