Royal Vopak, specialist in the storage and transshipment of chemicals, gases and oil products, is set to construct a solar farm in the Eemshaven region. With an area of 19 hectares and a capacity of 27 MW, the new farm is to become one of the largest in the Netherlands. 

Vopak, investor Whitehelm Capital and Groningen Seaports announced their plans for the solar farm on Wednesday. It is to be built beside the eleven oil storage tanks of the Vopak terminal in the Eemshaven, on ground that is already leased by the storage giant. The green electricity to be generated by the photovoltaic cells is destined for use by the terminal itself, but because the terminal is, according to a spokesperson, able to run very efficiently, a large part of the power will be used locally in the province of Groningen or traded on the energy market. 27 MW is basically enough to supply 27,000 households with power.

Sustainable port area

According to Ramon Ernst, Managing Director of Vopak Nederland, the construction of a solar farm perfectly reflects Vopak's desire to prepare for a future in which fossil fuels become less important. 'This project enables us to gain knowledge and experience in the field of electricity as an energy carrier, and also gives us the opportunity to examine the possibilities for any future storage and conversion of electricity in the Eemshaven region,' he says in a press release.

According to CEO Cas König of Groningen Seaports, the solar farm will make the Groningen port area more sustainable and contribute to lower CO2 emissions. 'For us, locally produced green energy is very important,' he says. 'We see with increasing frequency how companies are deciding whether or not to locate here based on the availability of renewable energy.' 

An impression of the future solar farm, which is to be built directly adjacent to the Vopak storage tanks


The parties involved expect to start construction in the autumn, once all the permits have been granted. The farm is projected to enter operation in 2020. In the meantime, Vopak is also working on a method for mounting future solar panels on the storage tanks themselves.

The largest solar farm in the Netherlands is located in the city of Vlissingen, and was connected to the grid last autumn. It has a maximum capacity of 54.5 MW (read also Largest solar park now in operation).

Image: Vopak/Groningen Seaports

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