Three hundred Dutch dairy farmers will soon be milking a new resource: solar energy.
A new project between energy firm GroenLeven and dairy co-operative FrieslandCampina means they will be hiring out the roofs of their cowsheds so that solar panels can be installed.
The aim is to cover the costs of dairy production with green energy, and ‘save’ the equivalent of 100 kilotons of carbon emissions by 2020 by generating solar power instead, says GroenLeven in a press release.
So, 310 farmers with a combined roof area of more than a thousand square metres are hiring them out as planting ground for 416,000 panels, with the help of €200mln in government sustainable energy subsidies. They will receive €4 per solar panel a year in ‘rent’.
Farming green power
Ynte de Vries, head of energy projects at FrieslandCampina, told the NOS broadcaster: ‘What we can offer our members with this is a solution where they don’t need to worry about the installation of sun panels, and don’t have to finance them. They can just do what they are good at: milking cows and caring for the land.’
Almost half of all green energy projects in the Netherlands involve the agricultural sector, according to the NOS, and Tilburg University professor Gerard de Leede told the broadcaster he expects this to grow sharply.
‘Solar energy from farms has the potential to be bigger than wind [farms] at sea,’ he reportedly said.
Early adopters, dairy farmers Henk and Trienke Elshof in Oldetrijne, Friesland had their installation ‘opened’ on Friday with a visit from economic affairs minister Henk Kamp.
Friesland-Campina has also worked with its dairy farmer members to encourage them to generate power from the methane gases released by manure.
Spokespeople for Friesland-Campina and GroenLeven could not be reached.
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