Second round of the solar parks competition

Grand prize: Advice from and research by Wageningen experts for improved environmental quality.
Photo Frank Köster-Düpree/Unsplash

The Wageningen Solar Research Programme, in conjunction with the Province of Gelderland, has launched another competition for solar projects in Gelderland. It is aimed at initiators who are looking for a different and better approach to their future solar park or solar farm in terms of multifunctionality and environmental quality. The grand prize: four years of free support from and research by experts from WUR and the Province.

The competition is part of the GAZO project (Dutch), the Gelderland Approach to Solar Parks with Environmental Quality. WUR and the Province hope that this competition will lead to the development of new standards and best practices for the future generation of solar parks with environmental quality. Last year, a similar competition resulted in two solar parks being selected from a total of nine entries – one in Voorst, where the proposed park forms part of a larger area development project, and one in Brummen, in an ecological connecting zone in which the badger plays a leading role. In this new round, there is scope to support four more initiatives.

A blank canvas

Ideal candidates are solar projects that can be combined with agriculture or
nature development, or are part of an area development project. It is also preferable for the plan to be in its early stages. “There has to be a driving force behind the plan, preferably a mix of companies, citizens, landowners, government agencies and public bodies, and stakeholder organisations. And, of course, a location. Other than that, it’s actually a bonus if there’s still largely a blank canvas,” says Jeroen Sluijsmans, developer of the Solar Research Programme.

To publicise the competition, WUR and the Province have written to all sustainability councillors, energy cooperatives and solar park developers in Gelderland. The deadline for applications is 21 June. The project team expects to announce a maximum of four winners by mid-September.

The competition follows the publication of a joint position paper by WUR and the nature and environment federations (Natuur en Milieufederaties), in which they express their concern about the erosion of support for the energy transition due to the predominantly poor spatial quality of current wind and solar parks.

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