120 MW »Citizen solar plant« in Austria

In the Austrian federal state of Burgenland, construction of the »SonnenPark Nickelsdorf« began on June 15 with a ceremonial groundbreaking. With a capacity of 120 megawatts, the plant projected by the energy supplier Burgenland Energie is not only the first ground-mounted solar power plant of this size in Austria, but also one of the largest »citizen solar plants« in an international comparison. 44 megawatts of wind power will be added in a second construction phase.
From the start of operations scheduled for December, the solar park will directly supply the population of Nickelsdorf. Under Burgenland Energie’s »Sonnenabo« scheme, interested parties residing in Nickelsdorf can participate financially via a lease model and obtain a corresponding share of solar power. Other plants of the energy supplier are also to be made available to residents for lease.
Large-scale ground-mounted projects have not yet been implemented in Austria; the 24-megawatt power plant at Vienna Airport is considered the country’s largest. At least in Burgenland, however, numerous other plants are to be built in the next few years, as state Governor Hans Peter Doskozil emphasized at the groundbreaking ceremony. By 2030, Burgenland must be able to generate an additional seven terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per year from renewable energies, including 3.1 from photovoltaics, in order to achieve climate neutrality and energy independence. However, the potential of roof surfaces including carports and noise barriers is only 0.4 TWh.
In March, the Burgenland state government presented a plan according to which the approval procedures for ground mounted solar projects covering 20 hectares or more will in future be carried out at the state level, without the otherwise required rezoning in the local councils.

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