Floating solar panel farms could help Netherlands hit climate goals: Report

Solar panels on the water
Solar panels on the water. (Photo: Imaginechina-Editorial/DepositPhotos)

On Thursday the national consortium "Zon op Water" will present plans to build hundreds of thousands of solar panels on open waters in the coming years. According to the consortium of companies, Rijkswaterstaat, 35 municipalities and knowledge institutions, these floating solar panels are necessary for the Netherlands to achieve its climate goals, Trouw reports.

Zon op Water has installation plans ready for floating solar parks that can generate up to 500 megawatts of power by 2012 - comparable to what a small coal-fired power plant can generate. According to the consortium, that number can be quadrupled to 2 gigawatts by 2023. 

According to the consortium, the Netherlands does not have the luxury to reject floating solar parks, because of the scarce free space in the country. Sand- and dredging areas will be the ideal spots for such floating parks, as they lack natural value.

Various nature organizations - including Natuurmonumenten, Vogelbescherming and the IJsselmeervereninging - are against floating solar parks, calling instead for fixing as many solar panels to roofs as possible. A 2017 study by Natuur & Milieu showed that there is still room for 145 million solar panels on Dutch roofs, the organizations said to Trouw.

"Far too little is known about the effects of solar panels that cover large areas of water", Kees van der Pijl of bird protection organization Vogelbescherming said to the newspaper. According to him, it is conceivable that the water quality will decrease as a result of reduced exposure to sunshine. This can cause fish to die, which in turn will affect the local bird populations, he said calling for a national study. 

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