Nazi Bunker to Become Europe's Largest Solar Power Plant

© Jerry James Stone via iPhone

A former Nazi bunker located in the Wilhelmsburg district of Hamburg, Germany is about to get a full-scale makeover. The building, which sorta looks like a giant LEGO, is set to become Europe's largest renewable energy power plant.

When it's all said and done, the power plant will supply 3,000 homes with heating and 1,000 of those with electricity, cutting 6,600 tons of CO2 per year.

How? The nine story structure (called a Flaktürme in German) will boast a 110 kWh rooftop photovoltaic system and a south-facing 0.6 GWh solar-thermal unit come 2012. The building's interior is being reserved for even further expansion. By 2013 the structure will house a 10.5 GWh woodchip combined heat and power plant (CHP), and a 3.7 GWh biomethane plant powered by a nearby industrial plant, for example. Waste heat will also be stored. That sounds like a lot but this building could house around 80 single family homes. It is that big.

© Jerry James Stone via iPhone

I mean, the British Army tried to blow this thing up back in 1947 and, well, couldn't. However it did leave the building's innards quite trashed.

Designed by architect Friedrich Tamms in 1942, it's almost misleading to say the finished product will be a "power plant." Sure, it will provide power; lot's of power. But the building will also be home to a neighborhood cafe, a panoramic terrace and a museum about both the building and the area.

It is hard to believe it took only six months to build this tower. The walls are at least one Inhabitat writer thick, that is about 7 feet. And at its thickest points, up to 14 feet thick.

© Jerry James Stone via iPhone

Hitler had ordered the construction of these buildings after a raid by the Royal Air Force in Berlin. Eight complexes were built in total: three in Berlin, three in Vienna and two in Hamburg. The above-ground structures not only provide shelter for up to 30,000 people but there was even a fully-equipped hospital ward inside. The tower's anti-aircraft guns could sustain an astonishing rate of fire: 8000 rounds per minute.

But what was once referred to as Flaktürme V will soon be known as the Energiebunker.

© IBA Hamburg GmbH

Re-tooling of the bunker is being orchestrated by the IBA Hamburg Gmbh. IBA, which had its inaugural year back in 2007, stands for Internationale Bauausstellung (International Building Exhibition in English). But calling it an exhibition is as misleading as calling the Energiebunker just a power plant. It's really more of an experiment, than anything else.

The IBA Hamburg is actually redeveloping entire districts of the city within the Elbe islands (Europe's biggest river island). And the Energiebunker is just one of its many different projects, all expected to be complete by 2013.

It guess it should be of no surprise that the city of Hamburg was awarded the title of European Green Capital 2011 by the European Commission.

Tags: Geothermal Power | Germany | Renewable Energy | Solar Power

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