Permit accepted for ‘extra-green’ solar farm in the Netherlands

Solarcentury has received the go-ahead to develop and build Masterveldweg solar farm in eastern Netherlands. The 73 MWp solar farm will cover an area of 61 hectares. At least 25 hectares of this will be focused on natural landscaping.

Masterveldweg solar farm in Winterswijk will provide enough electricity for 23,000 households. Combined with the Arrasveld solar farm, licensed in the same area earlier this year, these two Solarcentury projects will provide enough electricity for the equivalent of all the 29,000 households in Winterswijk.

Green design

The planned area of the project is in northeast Netherlands, on the German border. This space is currently grassland and fields for maize and potatoes, which offers very low quality biodiversity. The solar portion of Masterveldweg will cover an area of 36 hectares, with a further 25 hectares for maintenance paths and landscaping. The maximum height of the solar panels will be 1.5 metres which will be screened from local residents by carefully considered planting of shrubs and trees.

Paths will be planted with a flower mix with as little mowing as possible. Species common to the area and suited to the local soil will be planted, such as the ‘Gelderse’ rose, bird cherry, black alder, redcurrant, hawthorn, grey willow, beech and hazel. Small mammals will be able to pass under the fences improving the biodiversity. The plants, grassland and wildflower areas provide habitats for some of the native birds including the yellow wagtail, skylark and partridge.

The perimeter of the solar farm will be landscaped to screen the fences and the solar panels, with the planting of hedges and strips of herbaceous and flowery grassland.

Together with local residents

The landowners volunteered their land to Solarcentury for the development of this solar farm. Then the green design came about from Solarcentury working collaboratively with local residents, local nature cooperatives (Particulier Agrarisch Natuurbeheer Winterswijk), ecologists and the landowners. Masterveldweg solar farm will be developed by Solarcentury following the Zon-op-land, a set of principles drawn up by trade association Holland Solar which emphasises good practice.

Social partnerships

Solarcentury supports a number of initiatives in the area. Each year a grant is provided to a local energy fund which can be spent making homes more sustainable, or to support the activities of a local sustainability centre, for example. Primary schools in the area will be given a solar installation that will provide the school with clean, free renewable electricity and provide an opportunity for the children to learn about the energy transition. Solarcentury has also donated €5,000 to support nature conservation.

Financial opportunities

Masterveldweg brings a number of financial opportunities to local residents. Those living in the immediate area can receive a discount on their own home solar installations. Solarcentury will also offer residents the opportunity to purchase electricity from the solar farm at a discount, via the energy supplier that will purchase the power, resulting in lower bills. And residents in Winterswijk and Vreden, Germany, can buy bonds in the solar farm. In total, 25% of the entire solar farm will be offered through bonds with an expected return of 2.5 – 4.5% per year.

Planned construction

In Autumn 2021 Solarcentury hopes to receive the Dutch SDE++ subsidy at Winterswijk, a subsidy given for producers of sustainable electricity, and construction will follow in early 2022