Fronius installs solar inverters at former Austrian nuclear plant

Austrian inverter specialist Fronius has completed the installation of 43 Fronius IG Plus string inverters at a former nuclear plant in Austria, the company revealed today.

The Zwetendorf an der Donau nuclear power plant was meant to be Austria’s first foray into nuclear energy when it was built in 1972, ushering in a new age of power generation. However, six years after ground was broken at the site, a referendum prevented the plant from being put into operation. Thus, nuclear energy was never generated at the site, and decay set in.

Since 2005 the land has been owned by energy supplier EVN, who installed a solar PV system there in 2012, comprising 1,000 PV panels covering 3,700 square meters of rooftop, façade and the surrounding area. The total size of the installation is 460 kW.

According to Fronius, the Zwetendorf nuclear power plant is now – rather symbolically – the safest nuclear power station in the world. "Even though the power station was never put into operation, energy is finally now being produced there," said Fronius head of the solar energy division, Martin Hackl.

Fronius told pv magazine that the installation was not a retrofit, but that it took some time for the firm to receive approval from the plant owner to fit its IG Plus string solar inverters.

"The project fully reflects our vision of future energy production. The switch to renewable energy is inevitable for modern industrial society. Our aim is therefore to create a world in which the demand for energy is completely met by renewable energy sources and to make energy available in a sufficient quantity to everyone, anywhere and at any time."

Austria surpassed 1 GW of cumulative solar PV capacity in September, and is generally considered to be a stable solar market of around 250-300 MW per year.