Is it possible to harness solar energy in the absence of direct sunlight? The Garzweiler opencast mine demonstrates that it is indeed achievable, thanks to the two photovoltaic plants equipped with battery storage facilities.
Spanning an area equivalent to about 38 football fields, RWE has deployed over 58,000 photovoltaic modules capable of generating solar electricity to power more than 7,250 German households annually. What sets this location apart is the use of “bifacial” modules, which possess the unique ability to capture sunlight from both sides. Beyond directly absorbing sunlight, these modules effectively utilize reflected light from the ground on their rear sides, resulting in efficiency.
The Garzweiler initiative has a peak capacity of 19.4 megawatts peak (MWp) along with 6.5 MW of storage capacity. Positioned directly beneath the Königshovener Höhe Wind Farm, jointly managed by the German city of Bedburg and RWE, this project forms a vital energy hub.
Meanwhile, the Jackerath project, featuring 12.1 MWp and 4.1 MW of battery storage, finds its place on the western periphery of the open-cast mine. These battery storage systems are engineered to support a two-hour charging and supply cycle. Within the Inden opencast mine, the “RWE indeland Solar Farm” stands as a comparable facility that commenced producing solar electricity in 2022. It harnesses the power of over 26,500 solar modules in conjunction with an integrated battery storage system. This setup generates sufficient electricity to meet the energy needs of approximately 4,000 German households.
RWE is in the process of constructing the “RWE Neuland Solar Farm,” a photovoltaic and battery facility within the Hambach opencast mine, and there are plans for an additional solar plant in the same location.
Sascha Solbach, Mayor of the City of Bedburg, said, “For a clean and reliable electricity supply, we not only need more renewables, we also need battery solutions such as those implemented by RWE at the Garzweiler opencast mine, enabling our citizens to use solar power even after sunset.”
Katja Wünschel, CEO RWE Renewables Europe & Australia, added, “Solar power from opencast mines is a model for success. Using them in combination with battery systems is ideal. This is an integrated and highly successful plant concept that we are putting into practice at several locations simultaneously. In a short timeframe we have constructed three large-scale solar battery plants on opencast mine sites, and one more is under construction. That represents a further step towards our goal of achieving renewables projects with a capacity of 500 megawatts in the Rhenish lignite mining area by 2030.”
Lars Kulik, CTO Lignite at RWE Power, noted, “The two locations have a combined area of approximately 38 football fields. This shows it is not only our large-scale recultivation areas that offer plenty of space for renewables but also opencast mine areas that are still in operation. We plan to use these to ensure the region continues to be an energy producer into the future.”