New solar farm built on water at Sibelco site in Belgium
Floating PV partnership places 17,250 floating solar panels at Schansheide sand quarry, near Antwerp
ON Tuesday 8 September 2020, Flemish Minister of Energy Zuhal Demir installed the last solar panel of a ground-breaking new solar farm built on water – the first of its kind in Flanders. The innovative facility has been built at Sibelco’s Schansheide sand quarry on the border of the Antwerp municipalities of Mol and Dessel in Belgium.
The installation consists of 17,250 solar panels and will produce 7GWh/year, equivalent to the annual consumption of 2,000 households. Sibelco will use the bulk of the electricity in the production of high-quality silica sand at their local operation in Dessel.
The partnership between Sibelco, the Limburg investment company LRM, Luminus and Group Machiels – known as Floating PV – started developing the project in 2017.
‘Sibelco own many large quarries thanks to their sand extraction activities,’ said Bart Van Herck, Sibelco’s operations and country manager in Belgium. ‘The Schansheide quarry, for example, covers 70ha, and its location close to our operations makes the site perfectly suitable for a floating solar farm.
‘In 2017, we came together with our partners to design the project. The floating solar farm and our existing wind farm will provide renewable energy for 55% of the electricity needs of the operations in Dessel. The installation is further proof of our commitment to generating environmental value and making progress towards our 2025 sustainability targets.’
Floating PV are positive about the progress of the works. Construction started in March 2020 and has not been delayed despite the challenges of COVID-19. All technical connections will be completed later this month and the plant will produce its first green electricity in October 2020, exactly as planned. A video of the final result is available here.
‘The floating solar farm will produce 7GWh of green electricity annually,’ said Flemish Energy Minister Zuhal Demir. ‘The Flemish Government wants to give full support to such projects, and the fact that the installation will be operational in 2020 is a boost to the Flemish renewable energy targets.’
Cathy Berx, Governor of Antwerp, added: ‘Initiatives such as these help the province to achieve its climate neutrality objectives. This floating solar park makes optimal and multifunctional use of the possibilities that ponds like this offer for nature, but also for the generation of renewable and sustainable energy. Its added value and importance cannot be overestimated.’