Netherlands Nuon is planning to build six large solar farms next to its existing wind farms and traditional power plants in the Netherlands.

It will be the first time in the Netherlands these energy sources will be combined with solar panels. The plans will be realised by customer participation.

“We are allowing customers to invest in the new solar farms, leading to a more positive business case and better customer satisfaction,” says Noortje Bakker, Customer Journey Marketer, explaining how co-operation between customers and Nuon can stimulate sustainable energy supply:

“We can fulfil different customer needs with crowdfunding. Customers want to make smart use of their money and want to reduce their energy costs. By investing in solar farms they will receive an attractive return on their investment.”

Increased loyalty
“Other customers want to make a contribution to sustainable energy and can help in realising a new solar farm. By offering a higher return to Nuon customers and by stimulating sustainable energy, we can increase loyalty amongst our customers.”

The customer´s financing of the projects will benefit the business cases, because the number of subsidy requests submitted to the RVO, the Dutch government body dealing with renewable energy subsidies, will thus decrease.

“Subsidy requests for solar farms are sometimes rejected in the final stage of the process, because the requests are considered to be too high,” says Bakker.

So far, Nuon has plans for six solar farms to be combined with three existing wind farms and three power plants. The total capacity – with a total of 250,000 solar panels – is put at 70 megawatts, or enough to power 10,000 households.

“The great advantage of realising a solar farm with a wind farm is that the power supply can be efficiently utilised. There is usually no sun when there is a lot of wind and vice versa,” says Margit Deimel, Head of Development at Nuon Wind.

Empty spaces
By placing solar panels in the empty spaces in between the wind turbines, solar panels become a smart way of utilising the land, as well as taking advantage of existing infrastructure and grid connectors in the area.

In 2015 Vattenfall installed a pilot project with solar panels at Parc Cynog Wind Farm in Wales. The solar panels there provide approximately a quarter of the energy of the turbines.

The Nuon project portfolio includes the Wieringermeer, Oudendijk and Haringvliet wind farms.

But first out to be equipped with solar panels are the Eemshaven, Hemweg and Velsen power plants.

“They require fewer applications for permits since Nuon owns the land where they are situated and the areas around the plants are already fenced in,” says Diederik Apotheker, Business Developer at BA Wind.

Start next year
If the RVO accept Nuon´s subsidy requests and local authorities give their necessary approvals, the construction of the solar farms can start next year, according to plans.

“The permit applications are a bit more extensive for the wind farms; landowners and farmers must give their permission – but if it all turns out well, Vattenfall can make an investment decision in 2018,” says Apotheker.

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