A floating solar farm with 6150 panels, sufficient to supply 600 households with electricity, is to be installed on the irrigation water reservoir near Bemmel. The Lingewaard solar farm will thus become the largest floating farm in the Netherlands.

The irrigation water reservoir measuring around 2.5 ha is used to supply water to the gardeners in the vicinity. ‘It is purely functional water that flows through regularly,’ says Pieter Siekman, director of the Lingewaard Energy Cooperation.

So it’s an ideal spot to locate solar panels. ‘Over water they function more efficiently due to the cooling, and the panels help in turn to counter the growth of algae in the basin.’ The panels cover roughly two-thirds of the water surface area. ‘The water level fluctuates quite a lot, and we don’t want the panels to become dried out. Furthermore, excavation is sometime necessary and we have to be able to move the panels.’

Prototype of a floating panel.

The farm has a peak capacity of 1.845 MW and is expected to generate 1800 MWh per year. The panels will be installed and maintained by Tenten Solar. The farm is connected to a medium-voltage substation of the local electricity grid.

Floating more expensive than on land

The financing comes from the Gelderland Innovation & Energy Fund, ING Bank and residents of the Lingewaard municipality. The latter group raised the funds via crowd funding. Around two million euros are involved in total. An important aspect for the exploitation is that the farm qualified for the Renewable Energy Subsidy, SDE+.

Siekman: ‘The construction of a floating solar farm costs substantially more than on land. It is a problem for us that the SDE+ subsidy makes no distinction here, as it does with onshore or offshore wind energy. Floating solar farms therefore have a far smaller chance of qualifying for a subsidy, although we have plenty of surface water in the Netherlands that can be ideally used for this purpose.’

It is expected that the first panels will be installed on the water in March, and that the farm will start supplying electricity next year.

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Opening photo: Impression of the floating solar farm.


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