Farmers in the Netherlands are generating more and more electricity. Today, Dairy Cooperative “Friesland Campina” and Energy company “Groen Leven” have started a project that has mounts 416,000 solar panels on 310 farms. Together they have a size of about 100 football fields, enough to power a small city with 33,000 inhabitants.
The dairy farmers don’t have to do anything. They hire out their roof to an energy company and their own co-operation will demand a certain amount of power to make the dairy company run.
The energy, generated from solar panels on farms, can be bigger than wind energy at sea. – Gerard de Leede, Professor of Tilburg University
It began about twenty years ago with the placement of windmills by power companies on the land of farmers. Meanwhile, the roofs of farms and sheds are increasingly getting filled with solar panels. In addition, more and more places in Holland are converting manure to biogas. The agricultural sector is already involved in almost half of all green energy projects within the Netherlands.
According to Professor Gerard de Leede of the Tilburg University, that share can grow sharply in the coming years. “Solar panels on farms are cheaper and more efficient than wind-energy at sea. In addition, it requires relatively little additional investments in the electricity grid because the farms are well spread across the country. Solar energy from farm roofs has the potential to grow bigger than wind-energy at sea. ”
An extra monthly income for farmers
The farmers who are now participating in the project do not have to buy the solar panels themselves, but rent their roof to the energy company Groen Leven. For this they receive a fee of 4 euros per solar panel per year. This gives a farmer an extra monthly income, depending on the size of the roof.
Dairy cooperative Friesland Campina encourages farmers to join the project by offering them an additional compensation for the reduction of CO2 emissions. The largest dairy company in the Netherlands has imposed itself to grow only by getting more CO2-neutral. Friesland Campina buys the energy of the 310 farmers: which is enough to use 20 percent of the energy that they need to run their own factories.
In the past years, 1600 members of Friesland Campina have purchased solar panels on their own initiative. For the arrangement that is being presented in Friesland today, there was much interest. 1500 dairy farmers wanted to participate, but with the first subsidy-grant of 200 million euro there was only room for 310 farmers.
According to Ynte de Vries, project leader energy from Friesland Campina, they will add 300 farms next year and will continue to grow. “We see that there is a lot of interest and that is because farmers do not have to worry about it. The maintenance and reduction of electricity is all taking care of by the energy company. The dairy farmer can continue with his work, which is milking cows. ”
In addition, the farmers can also buy these solar panels in the years to come. This requires an investment, but also yields more.
Farmer Henk Elshof who lives in Oldetrijne (Friesland) is one of the first participants in this project. He has his roof full of solar panels. Today the Minister of Economic Affairs paid him a visit for the start of the project.
Elshof has been thinking about getting solar panels for a long time, but was pulled over the line because he has no involvement himself. “We rather prefer solar panels on the roof of our farm than on our beautiful meadow. We need to work on renewable energy for the future. ”
A quarter of the energy Elshof uses for the milking machines, the manure shaker and the cooling of the milk tank. The remaining 75 percent goes to Groen Leven and Friesland Campina. Who will provide the Elshof family with 5000 euro a year. Which is not enough to stop milking. The yield of the 240 dairy cows is still much bigger.