Meet Germany’s Biggest Rooftop Solar Power Plant

Germany, where solar rulz and carbon drools (generally speaking), has more rooftop solar than any other country, and now it has a rooftop system the likes of which it has never before seen.

The new system on the Pfenning Logistics distribution center in Haddesheim has an installed capacity of 8.1 megawatts, making it Germany’s largest rooftop solar plant and one of the biggest in the world.

Some of the 27 acres worth of rooftop solar (image via Wirsol)

Some of the 27 acres worth of rooftop solar (image via Wirsol)

This system covers 110,000 square meters and unless the Google calculator is screwy, that translates to just over 27 acres. Didn’t I read somewhere that 32 acres of solar can power 1,000 average homes? I did. And that’s U.S. homes, which use a lot more energy than German ones.

It took 33,096 Yingli panels to do the job on the Pfenning Logistics roof. Wirsol, the company that managed the project, said the installation was expected to produce about 7,005 megawatt-hours of energy a year, giving the installation an 11 percent capacity factor. That’s low by Southwestern U.S. utility-scale solar plant standards, but new research has shown that in some cases, solar in relatively poor solar resource areas can provide greater social benefit.

The largest rooftop array at a single site that we’ve heard about is the 12-MW system at a GM factory in Zaragoza, Spain. But here’s a funny thing: GM says on its website that the Zaragoza array “was the world’s largest industrial rooftop solar installation until 2012.” We’re still trying to figure out who beat it out.

As for the U.S., the biggest rooftop system is at the Gloucester Marine Terminal in Gloucester City, N.J. That system, which went online in 2011, is said to consist of 1.1 million square feet of solar panels and can produce about 9 MW of electricity when operating at peak.

In May, we reported on Hyundai’s plan to install a solar system at its Asan plant in South Korea with a generating capacity of 10 MW, making it the largest in that country.


Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.


  • Reply August 22, 2013


    So, are the white lumps in the picture skylights?

    • Reply August 23, 2013

      Pete Danko

      That would be my guess.

  • Reply September 5, 2013

    Felix Matt

    Rooftop solar power plant are very popular means of energy in European Continent however North America and Asia are also heading towards becoming bigger hub for all sort of renewable energy. One of the article that I was going through that talks about the Largest solar power plants in the world gives a glimple of the growing awareness about the usage of renewable energy around the world.

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