I was lucky enough to visit one of the largest solar power plants of Hungary: the MET Danube Solar Park in Százhalombatta, which is a part of the Dunamenti Power Plant. Written by Noémi Szabó.
Hungary’s recent solar power plants
In recent years, there has been a growing interest among Hungarians in solar panel installation. Not only companies (especially power companies, which are already involved in energy production), but the general public is increasingly able to afford it – and buys it too! Plenty of companies make solar panels these days, so it’s getting cheaper and cheaper. In addition, people realize that it is worth investing in renewable energy: the investment in the system will quickly pay off and from that point on you will be able to use electricity for basically free. Moreover, the environmental burden of conventional power generation (e.g. carbon dioxide, spent fuel) can be reduced and decentralization can lead to a more even and independent supply.
Before moving on to the Danube Solar Park, I will list the large investments in solar installation in the country over the last few years. In descending order of installed capacity (2020 data):
22.6 MW – Mátra Power Plant Bükkábrány
20.6 MW – MVM Paks
19.9 MW – MVM Felsőzsolca
17.6 MW – MET Danube Solar Park Százhalombatta
16 MW – Mátra Power Plant Visonta
11.6 MW – Unisun Energy Group Tiszaszőlős
a total of 18.3 MW – MOL Füzesgyarmat, Tiszaújváros and Százhalombatta
4 MW – Alteo Monor
a total of 10 MW – Solar Markt Kft. Csepreg and Vép
I was able to visit two of them: first I checked out the Visonta Park while it was being built, and years later the Danube Solar Park, now in its ready state. It wouldn’t be worth visiting anymore because, I admit, they don’t offer much variety after the novelty wears off. :)
How does the Danube Solar Park work?
The unit, which was built in two separate investment areas and is co-producing, was launched in August 2018 (TEHAG and Zagytér Photovoltaic Power Plant). Here’s a video of the park’s construction.
It was named after the dried fish breeding ponds on which it was built, which made approx. 31 hectares of unused land utilized.
There are more than 59,000 polycrystalline solar panels located in this part of the park. The sunlight shining on the panels is made of particles of energy, aka photons, which transmit their energy to electrons, which then are released and generate a direct current as they travel. Direct current is converted by 342 inverters to 0.4 kV three-phase electric power. The generated power is grouped into 90 combiner boxes, and then 9 1.6 MVA field transformers convert the 0.4 kV voltage to 20 kV. From there, the energy goes through 20 kV cables to a single 22 kV regional switchgear, from where supply cables run to the central switching station. Finally, it reaches the central transformer, where voltage is increased from 20 kV to 120 kV, thus becoming part of the national electrical grid.
Zagytér (Ash pond)
This power plant takes up approx. 9.2 hectares in the recultivated area of the Dunamenti Power Plant. There are over 16,000 panels (+176 panels in the test field), 98 inverters, 26 combiner boxes, 2 1.6 MVA and a single 1 MVA field transformers, and 1 22 kV regional switchgear, from where current is fed to the central switching station, then to the central transformer, and finally to the grid.
The total annual solar production is expected to be 22 GWh, which covers the annual consumption of approximately 9,000 households. All you need is 25 degrees Celsius, as the panels will deliver the highest performance at this temperature. Production is monitored by a surveillance system, thermal imaging and irradiance measurements. The panel manufacturers are optimistic that they will continue to deliver 80 percent of their initial performance even after 20 years.
About 5 MW of panels can still be installed at Dunamenti Power Plant, but the company plans to build more solar power plants with a total installed capacity of 50-100 MW in the country.
Translation by Ágnes Sturcz