New Vattenfall solar farm combines energy and food production
Vattenfall’s new Symbiozon project makes use of limited land for both energy production and agriculture. The project is meant to serve as a viable blueprint to more sustainable collaborations in the future.
Creative solutions on limited land
Vattenfall is one of Europe’s largest suppliers of electricity and heat and committed to driving the transition to sustainable energy. From their Amsterdam office, the new Symbizon project is in the final stages of completion, combining solar energy production with crop cultivation in an innovative step towards a fossil-free future. The construction is set to complete this fall and the site will be ready for its first round of crops in Spring 2023.
Located in Almere, this solar farm will be built with alternating strips of solar panels and organic crops. The panels themselves are double sided, allowing them to capture light reflected from the plants and soil as well as the sun. They also will automatically adjust to the sun’s position throughout the day, meaning that less panels need to be used overall to achieve the same amount of energy production.
A win-win situation
This project’s aim is to benefit both the food and energy sectors by encouraging more sustainable practices like chemical-free farming and multiple land use. Over the next 4 years, an independent research organisation will monitor the project and develop a sun-tracking algorithm by monitoring factors like crop yield, energy yield and effects of different crop strips, weather, energy cost, and soil condition. The goal is to report on the feasibility and economic benefit to using this model in the future.
Carel Kooij, Solar Development Manager at Vattenfall, sees this project as a win-win for everyone: “Vattenfall wants to make fossil-free living possible, but we have to do that together. A smart combination of solar panels and strip cultivation preserves the land for food production, improves ecological properties and at the same time provides a positive business case for Vattenfall and the farmer. So it’s a win for all parties.”
Coming together to create a better future
In order to meet the Dutch government's goal to produce 100% of the country’s energy from wind and solar by 2050, this type of cross-sector collaboration is key. The Symbizon project, which is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, brings 2 key industries together and opens up the possibilities for farms to be driven by greener energy sources, even in areas where there is limited land use.