On the morning of Friday 28th July we could enjoy a sumptuous breakfast buffet at Hotel Astoria before starting our day trip. Each one of us also received a packed lunch prior to our departure which included some sandwiches, fruits and a beverage. The bus was already waiting for us at the entrance of the hotel (punctual as usual!). We were lucky with the weather: it was a fresh but sunny day. We travelled to Kassel’s Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, a baroque landscape park built by a former local ruler over 240 hectares which recently acquired a UNESCO World Heritage status.
The main attraction of the park are the natural waterfalls and fountains that require no electric pumping systems, so they rely entirely on the difference in height and pressure in the water circuit of the park. The first thing that greeted us at the entrance of the park, on top of the mountain, was the Hercules Statue atop the Octagon. From there, we could have a splendid view of the city and the waterfall path all the way down to the castle. The whole water circuit was designed in order to demonstrate the power of man over nature and obviously, to impress the visitors of the local ruler. Unfortunately, we could not revel in the water features through the fountains, as that could be activated only on Wednesdays.
However, we could enjoy a pleasant walk downhill through the lush forest to the castle called Schloss Wilhelmshöhe. After the visit of the uniquely decorated interior of the castle (our guide even showed us the weapon room with authentic baroque armours and weapons!) we had a small picnic in the English garden. There we could play some fun games such as hide and seek among the trees. Aidan found a perfect hiding place on the top of a tree, and Rodeo did have a hard time trying to find him!
SMA Solar Technology AG
Right after lunch, we visited SMA, a leading company in photovoltaic (PV) systems and one of the biggest employers in Kassel. We had a guided tour of the facilities where they produce from 20 to 30 different models of PV inverters. These inverters have an efficiency of approximately 96% and can support from 1,5 kW (the smallest, weighing 9 kg) to 5 MW (the biggest, weighting 82 kg).
We were guided by two members of the staff of SMA, who readily answered our questions on the production and testing of inverters. The plant in Kassel actually delivers around 3000 inverters per week and sometimes even more. We also had a small Power Point presentation on smart home topologies, and we were showed how to use a freely available online tool called “Sunny Design”, so that we could simulate a smart home system.