Wednesday, May 26, 2010

PV in Germany

I knew that solar was more popular in Germany than the UK but this set of pictures gives you some idea just how far ahead they are compared to us in the UK...

I wasn't intending to go on holiday in Germany but fate (or rather volcanic ash) interceded and we had our flights to Japan cancelled.  So, not wanting to spend the whole of the four weeks I'd booked off sitting in our back yard, we caught the ferry to France and drove across to Germany.  We went to Seiffen near the Czech border and up to Berlin and across to the Nurburgring (but I couldn't drive on it as my insurance excludes it by name!).

Along the way, we were amazed by how many houses had solar PV or thermal (sometimes both) and here is a sample of what we saw.  The biggest array by far was one in the "back yard" of Amazon's warehouse in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Germany.  Absolutely huge it was.... a whole field of trackers.

Some like this one are communal, shared somehow by the residents of a block of flats.  This one has 121 panels and at a typical 180Wp per panel that's about 21.7kWp

Many businesses install very big arrays on their warehouses or factories.

This was one pair we saw from the window of our castle hotel at Neuhausen near Seiffen that specialises in wooden toys and other intricate wooden decorations.  You can see the 88 panel array on the house but also a bigger one on the barn just peeking over the hills behind.  This house had in the region of 15.8kWp installed.  And this is quite common in Germany.
These two we saw in another castle town, Wernigerode, where we stayed at a ski hotel.  This house must get through a lot of hot water! It has a massive thermal solar panel.
This one not only has panels all over the roof but also on angles all over two garages / sheds to the left of the house.
Driving in the scenic valleys to the North of Kassel, we saw a solar showroom.  A big ex-supermarket type building with a large car park.  Could solar be so popular that they have something akin to a car showroom for selling installations?  A helpful woman enquired if I needed help.  I looked at a selection of example panels they had in different powers and styles (including black framed ones and big amorphous ones).  They stocked some brands but she pointed out that they also made their own brand too.

Driving on through that town we started to see more and more installed PV systems... Obviously, the showroom had been doing plenty of deals for the 'Burghers.

Driving along the 80 towards the fairytale town of Hameln (as in the Pied Piper of), we were stopped in our tracks by the sight of this village (Oedelsheim) with its numerous houses with big PV arrays.
The farmhouse on the far left having some 264 modules installed on the upper and lower roof! I did notice on my travels that mostly the Germans seem to go for poly panels rather than mono types.  Maybe they're a lot cheaper or perhaps the German made ones are predominantly poly types?
The neighbours were keen to keep up with the Johans in some arms race to see who could have the biggest array.
Hameln Banhof (train station) has this bus station with see-though panels specially made to make power and act as a sun shade. They are not so different to normal panels just the cells are spaced out a bit and a clear backing used instead of the usual white / blue EVA.

Treysa in Schwalmstadt to the SE of Kassel has a walled old town and from the ruin of the church you can see this school complex with a massive PV array on several buildings.
This office, visible from the old town wall has 198 panels (~35.6kWp) installed.  By now this looks "average" as installations go.
Even some of the old timbered houses in the town have been kitted out.  Not sure massive solar arrays on quaint English Tudor houses would sit well with the parish council but the Germans don't seem to mind.
Just outside the nearby castle village of Ziegenhain (supposedly the town of Red Riding Hood) some nutter has put a 5x5 module tracker on his shed...
Ferienhof Todenhausen wins the award for the most solar systems installed in one village though...  It's not that big a place but it has a crazy amount of PV installed.
I counted 14 PV / thermal installations on different houses in this close-up shot alone.
And someone went mad on the far right of this shot where they installed PV all over the two enormous grey sheds with specially designed sloping roofs!
All the excitement went to me head and I bought the used 50W panel and 5x new 80W panels off of eBay for me home brew setup when we came back home.

On the way to Yorkshire to pick up the 80W panels, I noticed plenty of large buildings (offices, warehouses, farm buildings, homes) that were all ideal candidates for massive PV arrays that would almost certainly had one if they were in Germany... Not a sausage here.  Pitiful.

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