In the Netherlands, looking for space for solar energy

(AFP) – On Piet Albers ’farm, everyone is happy: Raspberries are now grown protected by a huge field of solar panels and in return energy company BayWa supplies electricity to more than 1,200 homes.

In the Netherlands and Europe in general, this is a major issue for the solar industry, with states promising massive deployments in terms of energy and climate objectives: where to find and take up space for deployment?

“We see everywhere,” replied Marten de Groot of the Groenleven Group, an affiliate of the German Beowulf, which relies on locations where installations can be “dual-used.”

Thus Piet Albers welcomes, as a greenhouse, a roof made of photovoltaic panels, placed three meters above the ground above his precious raspberries.

“I have seen the summer getting longer, and these fruits from the forest are burning in the greenhouses. They need to be protected,” he said.

The farmer, who produces more than 200 tons of raspberries a year on a single farm, does not rent from the energy company, but for three years he has other advantages: more constant temperature, 25% less water, protection against hail, greenhouse plastic stored …

A wide smile split his scattered face as 37 degrees Celsius was declared in his area this week: “In the greenhouse, I should have dropped 10 to 20% of the fruit.”

On the other hand, BayWa will have to bear the additional costs: non-standard and less productive panels (semi-transparent for filtering light), more complex maintenance, list Marten de Groot, for which “emergence + dual-use + projects on state support Will depend. “

An “agrivoltaic” project can lose 15-25% of revenue compared to a solar park on the ground. Next, cheaper and more productive, so will remain necessary, the sector believes.

– For each project, its local residents –

However, not all emerging solutions are necessarily very expensive, Bewa emphasizes. The company has set up a floating park on a quarry lake 50 km from Mr. Albers.

This 30-meter-deep hole, formed as a result of years of sand extraction and refilling, now has 17 hectares of solar panels, as far as the eye can see, more than half of it.

“Floats are a proven technology, not a high-tech one at all,” said Hugo Parent, project manager at Beauvais France, assembled like a pontoon. The investment is higher than the land, but faster construction, easier maintenance and water, avoids any excess heat and increases yields.

Also on the water, a dozen transformers send 20,000 volts to the shore station via a huge cable, scheduled for about 10,000 homes.

Here, energy companies rent quarries, but often sell carbon-free electricity to industrialists at stable prices.

The Uivermeertjes Park is the second largest floating park in Europe with 29.8 MW. The first is in the Netherlands.

The idea is not only to please people, like William Peters, who catches carp and tench fish there. “The fish is getting bigger, but will it last?”, He asked the industrialist’s representatives, who tried to reassure him: “A study on another water showed a slight difference in temperature.”

“We are a small country. As soon as you have a project, you find a local resident, you really need to think about sharing space”, notes Maarten De Groot.

In the most densely populated country in Europe, the installation of renewable energy through wind power began in the less populated north. It is limited by the capacity of the electricity network there today, while the south is very urban, and the roof is already very furnished.

But the challenge is: the Netherlands, which aims to be carbon neutral by 2050, draws less than 12% of its final energy costs from renewables.

Globally, the situation is similar: 2021 saw an unprecedented installation of solar and wind power, but to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, four times more would have to be installed each year, the International Energy Agency’s underline said.

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