Festive inauguration of the experimental solar thermal power plant in Jülich

A red letter day in Jülich, Germany: On 20 August 2009, some 250 guests from Germany, other European countries and North Africa met up in Niederrhein to celebrate the official inauguration of Germany's first experimental solar thermal power plant. The general contractor for the plant is Kraftanlagen München, a member of Alpiq subsidiary GAH Anlagenbau. The guest of honour was the sun, which gave its finest and hottest performance on what turned out to be the warmest day of the year yet, with temperatures reaching 37 degrees Celsius.

"And the sun keeps on rising"

In addition to representatives from the business community, the celebrations were also attended by political VIPs, including North Rhine-Westphalia's Minister of Economy Christa Thoben and German Minister for the Environment Siegmar Gabriel. The latter praised the solar tower power plant, calling it a pioneering project: "What we are inaugurating today is no less than the future of energy supplies," said Gabriel.

In the air-conditioned marquee, guests listened to the inaugural speeches and panel discussions and were entertained with a performance by Gruppe Mobilé, which presented the history of energy generation in mime and dance. By way of musical accompaniment to the official handover of the power plant to Ulf Kamburg, CEO of Stadtwerke Jülich, guests were treated to the Udo Jürgens song "Und immer wieder geht die Sonne auf" ("And the sun keeps on rising"). What could be more fitting?

First success: Feasibility study for a large-scale project in Algeria

In his address Ludwig Geißinger, CEO of KAM, confidently claimed that there were great times ahead for solar-thermal energy generation. "We are convinced that our technology has an excellent chance on the market". The outlook certainly looks good: Besides the celebrations accompanying the handover to Stadtwerke Jülich, agreements were signed for a study into the feasibility of a project 2 to 2.5 times larger in North Africa. An Algerian delegation featuring representatives from the worlds of research and politics travelled to the inauguration especially for this purpose.

Strong partner guarantees fast implementation

The general contractor for the experimental power plant is Kraftanlagen München (KAM), a member of Alpiq subsidiary GAH Anlagenbau of Heidelberg. KAM realised this pilot project in only five years, from idea to completion, with the following partners: The German Centre for Aerospace Research (DLR) and the Solar Institute Jülich, part of the University of Aachen (research partners) and Stadtwerke Jülich GmbH/SWJ (owner-operator). The project was sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Reactor Safety and the Ministry of Economy and Energy of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Bavarian State Ministry of Economy, Infrastructure, Transport and Technology. The experimental solar-thermal power plant was completed at the end of 2008 after a construction period of only ten months. Following several months of test operations, the power plant started regular operations in the spring of 2009.