A landfill turning problems into energy

Karl-Heinz Zurhold, graduate engineer and veteran of the energy revolution sums up the self-image of his region: "When it comes to the expansion of renewable energies in the Münsterland region, there will be no competition between us - we help each other. “

Karl-Heinz-Zurhold and his solar panels is part of the virtual power plant Karl-Heinz-Zurhold and his solar panels is part of the virtual power plant Zurhold, who began building wind turbines in 2000 and thus producing electricity from renewable energies, has since implemented many small and large projects not only in an advisory but also in an executive function.

"Everything is represented - from a few to many dozen wind turbines, biogas plants and photovoltaics. We are very well networked in the Münsterland region, we know and help each other with projects", explains the convinced energy entrepreneur and networker. "We recognized early on that pooling our plants offers us many advantages - the step into a virtual power plant is only logical. When I arrive with 5 MW instead of 500 kW, it makes a completely different impression, even with the renewables trader." The current project of the bustling Münsterlander, which started green energy trading with Next Kraftwerke in March 2017, is a 2,058 kWp photovoltaic plant on a backfilled and sealed former waste dump. A total of 8,760 PV modules produce clean electricity on the renaturalised green space, which the electricity traders, analysts and control system technicians from Cologne-based Next Kraftwerke market optimally.

However, the PV modules are not the only energy sources hidden in the former problem area: "In addition to the converted landfill area for photovoltaics, which is subsidized, we also use the landfill gas to generate energy," is how Zurhold explains the comprehensive approach of his project. "Together with a biogas plant in which the landfill gas is mixed with bio methane and then converted into electricity, we are making good use of this brownfield. In addition, we installed two wind turbines - we exploit every possibility to generate renewable energy on our landfill site," the energy entrepreneur says happily, and concludes by describing a win-win situation between humans and animals: "Sheep can graze between the PV modules - and now they can put themselves in the shade in summer.”

The integration of Zurhold's PV system into the Next Pool of the virtual power plant went absolutely without a hitch - even though the authorities took longer than originally expected to approve the construction. Zurhold had been trying to obtain approval for his plant since 2011 - now he is happy that it has been finally launched six years later. He considers the cooperation with Next Kraftwerke, which he already knows from three joint projects with his Energielandwerker colleague Thomas Voß, to be very good: "What I find particularly positive is that you don't have to put a lot of effort in it. I don't have to report every small malfunction in my system, and if I do, I can do it via the app or the website."

Looking to the future, however, a few dark clouds are gathering above the sky of Münsterland: "After Fukushima, there was a real spirit of optimism not only among us, but also in politics - we wanted renewable energies, and politics also wanted them. Now we have planned the projects with long lead times - and the politicians don't want any more" Karl-Heinz Zurhold criticizes the lack of support of the federal and state politics regarding the expansion of renewable energy. He continues: "In addition, the 1,500 meter distance rule for wind power plants to residential areas and many other small laws and regulations, which are constantly changing and which we have to implement daily, do not make life easier for us".

Nevertheless, Zurhold remains optimistic, his confidence comes from his strong network of many committed supporters: "We are a genuine 'we' group. We are not in competition with each other, but live the cooperative idea every day by helping, supporting and advising each other on projects". The cooperation with Next Kraftwerke fits perfectly into this concept: "Helping each other, finding solutions and working forward for enabling renewables - that is the common goal" summarizes Zurhold.

Facts & Figures

Installed capacity: 2.058 kWp
Number of modules365 strings á 24 modules = 8.760
Applied product:Direct marketing of electricity from photovoltaics