Vattenfall heads to the Netherlands for 1.2MW floating solar debut

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The 1.2MW system will be Vattenfall's first foray into floating solar. Image: Vattenfall

Swedish state-owned utility Vattenfall is to build its first floating solar farm in the Netherlands, a country increasingly seeing floating solar appear on its doorstep.

The farm is set to have a 1.2MW capacity, with construction poised to start in December. At the site of the project in Gendrigen, Netterden – Vattenfall's partner for the project – has been extracting sand and gravel for twenty-five years, creating a pond in the process.

There is an electric sand pump in the water, which together with the sorting and processing equipment consumes around 2.5 million kilowatt-hours per year, of which the solar is meant to generate half.

The installation of solar arrays on the pond will help drive up panel efficiency thanks to the natural cooling ability of the water, Vattenfall said.

The Swedish firm is the prime contractor of the project, with funding provided by Netterden and the farm expected to be operational by May 2020. 

Ivo Iprenburg, business development manager of real estate at Vattenfall, said the two companies' shared ambition for a sustainable future brought them together for the project.

“I believe it is special that Netterden's decision to launch this project is driven by their vision regarding socially responsible enterprise. Renewable energy is a natural part of this,” Iprenburg said.

Land conflicts push solar players to water bodies

The project marks Vattenfall’s second venture in the Netherlands in the space of a few months. The Northern European country has become a stage of sorts for Vattenfall’s debuts, with the firm choosing it in August to host its first triple hybrid project.

Slated for construction in Haringvliet, a North Sea inlet, the solar-plus-wind-plus-storage project is set to go live in September 2020. It is designed to feature a 22MW wind element, a 12MWh battery system and a 38MW ground-mounted solar installation.

The advent of Dutch floating solar comes amid long-running land conflicts in the densely populated Northern country, a constraint driving market operators to water bodies.

Fellow solar developer BayWa r.e. has chosen the Netherlands for four floating solar projects in recent years, with its most recently installed farms – 14.5MWp Sekdoorn and 8.5MWp Tynaarlo – completed earlier this year.

BayWa r.e. also confirmed plans for the construction of further floating solar projects in the Netherlands last month, targeting 100MW of European floating solar.

In the UK, Vattenfall has been focusing on its electric vehicle (EV) ambitions, signing a deal with Shell-owned charge point operator NewMotion to allow drivers to use both companies' infrastructure, and partnering telecommunications giant Virgin Media to trial on-street electric vehicle charging using the latter's infrastructure.

The prospects and challenges of solar's new era in Europe and beyond will take centre stage at Solar Media's Solar Finance & Investment Europe (London, 5-6 February) and Large Scale Solar Europe 2020 (Lisbon, on 31 March-1 April 2020).

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