Dutch dairy co-op to install solar panels on 310 farm rooftops

Chief executive Roelof Joosten says he wants the agricultural sector to ‘play an even more important role in the energy transition’

Dutch dairy co-operative FrieslandCampina is working with an energy company to install 400,000 rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on its members’ farms.

The scheme will see 310 farms in the co-op, with roof surfaces greater than 1,000 sq m, rent 416,000 solar panels from energy provider Energiebedrijf GroenLeven, which will handle their connection, monitoring, financing, guarantees and maintenance.

The farmers will receive a payment of €3-4 ($3.50-4.70) per panel per year, and once a year will be given the chance to purchase the PV panels and a €10 bonus for each tonne of CO2 emissions they eliminate.

Once fully implemented, the scheme is expected to produce 115 GWh per year for the farms and for FrieslandCampina’s own facilities. This is equal to green electricity for 33,000 households or 20% of the total use of electricity of FrieslandCampina in the Netherlands.

The first set of panels were installed at the Elshof dairy farm in Oldetrijne two weeks ago, watched by Friesland Campina chief executive Roelof Joosten.

Mr Joosten said: “The ambition of FrieslandCampina is to generate sufficient green electricity at the farmyards of our member farmers to fully cover the use of electricity. With this, we will contribute to the reduction objective for the year 2020 as agreed within the dairy sector.

“The agricultural sector already represents half of the national green energy production. Large-scale installation of solar panels thanks to the ‘roof-rent solution’ can help us reach this objective. With this, the agricultural sector can play an even more important role in the energy transition.”

Henk Kamp, minister of economic affairs, recently granted a subsidy of €200m for solar panels on the roofs of FrieslandCampina dairy farms.

FrieslandCampina says 1,600 of its members have already installed rooftop solar systems independently. For the new scheme, it said 1,500 farmers expressed interest, but an initial €200m grant from the ministry of economic affairs could only cover 310.

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