RWE supplies photovoltaic electricity from Hambach opencast mine

RWE is continuing to progress full speed ahead on green electricity production in the Rhenish mining area. At the foot of the Sophienhöhe hill in the Hambach opencast mine, the company has now fully commissioned a further photovoltaic plant with integrated battery storage system. The new plant was installed on a gravel field near the shore of the future Hambach Lake. Until the lake is completely filled with water, around 40 years from now, the area is being put to good temporary use to produce green energy and benefit the environment.

The RWE Neuland Solar Farm has a capacity of 12 megawatts peak (8.4 MWac). Its 22,000 solar modules produce enough green electricity to supply the equivalent of more than 
3,100 households.

Bifacial modules, which are photosensitive on both sides, were installed. In addition to sunlight hitting the panels directly, they can also utilise light reflected by the ground. This makes these modules extremely efficient. The battery storage system is designed for a two-hour charging and supply cycle of over eight megawatt hours, functioning as a buffer between generation and grid.

Katja Wünschel, CEO RWE Renewables Europe & Australia: “RWE Neuland Solar Farm is already the fourth large solar project we have commissioned in the Rhenish mining area within a very short period of time, again in combination with a battery storage system. We are stepping up the pace, in particular in our home market in Germany. We plan to implement wind and solar projects with a total capacity of at least 1,000 megawatts by 2030 in North Rhine-Westphalia alone.”

Lars Kulik, CTO Lignite at RWE Power: “This solar farm is the visible manifestation of how structural change and energy transition can succeed. Until the lake at Hambach opencast mine is completely filled with water, we have around 40 years to put the area to good temporary use to generate green electricity. In this way, even opencast mines that are still active can already contribute towards the energy transition.”

Next to the RWE Neuland Solar Farm, another photovoltaic plant is currently under construction – the RWE Neuland 1 Solar Farm. During the first construction phase, 36,700 modules with a combined capacity of 20 megawatts peak (17.6 MWac) are being installed. The second construction phase is due to be completed this summer, expanding the plant’s capacity by another 15.2 megawatts peak (12 MWac). A further solar farm at Hambach opencast mine is already at the planning stage.

RWE is planning to jointly operate the solar projects at the Hambach opencast mine with Neuland Hambach GmbH. The company is coordinating the structural change around the opencast mine and is playing a key role in shaping it. The two parties recently signed an agreement to formalise their collaboration.

RWE is continuing to expand renewables in Germany at pace

RWE has more than 20 years of experience in developing, constructing and operating renewable energy plants. In its home market of Germany, the company is operating onshore wind and solar farms with a total installed capacity of around 700 megawatts – including four combined solar-storage plants in the Rhenish mining area. In addition, the company’s first Agri-PV demonstration plant has been built on recultivated land, which was previously part of the Garzweiler opencast mine. In total, RWE is planning to invest around 11 billion euros net in green generation capacities in Germany over the next seven years.

RWE is looking for locations across all of Germany to further drive the expansion of renewables. Whenever a site is deemed suitable for wind turbines or solar plants, the company looks after all aspects of the planning and building process as well as the operation of the plant.