Flanders’ first floating solar park to be plugged in
On the sand mining site ‘De Schans’ of Sibelco, on the border of Dessel and Mol, Flanders’ first floating solar park was inaugurated officially on Tuesday. With 17 250 solar panels and a capacity of 7 GWh a year – the equivalent of the electricity used by 2 000 households – the company’s factory gets 80% of it. The other 20% goes to the grid.
‘Floating PV’ as it is called, started in 2017 as a joint-project of Sibelco, the Limburg venture capital LRM Group, and energy provider Luminus. Sibelco owns several sand mining sites in the provinces of Antwerp and Limburg with large ponds.
55% of renewable energy
According to Country Manager, Bart Van Herck, in newspaper GvA, the Dessel site with its 70 hectares close to the factory is very well suited for a floating solar park like this. With it, Sibelco’s Dessel factory will be using 55% of renewable energy, far beyond the Sibelco Group’s global goal to have every site using at least 25% renewable energy by 2025.
With 17 250 solar panels, roughly the size of ten football fields, floating on the water, the double-sided panels provide, on average, more electricity than land-based sites. Sunlight is direct, but also underneath, due to the reflection on the water. On hot days, the cooling effect of the water increases the yield of the solar panels with some 5%.
Zual Demir (N-VA), Flemish Minister for Energy, symbolically lent a helping hand to place the last solar panel. According to her, the fact that this floating solar park is already operational in 2020 is “a real boost for the Flemish ambitions to grow the part of renewable energy.”
Subsidies for solar parks
In December, the then Flemish Energy Minister, Bart Tommelein (Open Vld), announced Flanders would provide a 4,1-million-euro subsidy for floating solar parks. This, on top of 2 million euros, Tommelein already invested in the Sibelco project.
The Flemish government has yet to decide whether it will grant a subsidy for another floating solar park in Maasmechelen, on the former mining site of Eisden, now called Terhills, to provide the holiday park with renewable energy. The solar park would be installed partly floating on the lake, partly on land with a total size of three hectares.