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Stowa | A pilot PV project on a Dutch dike.

© Stowa | A pilot PV project on a Dutch dike.

Challenging plans to deploy PV on dikes

Dutch researchers are trying to determine whether large-scale PV projects can be deployed on flood-control dikes across the Netherlands.

A 5 MW solar project has already been built on a dike near Groningen, but the researchers believe there is potential to build up to 2.9 GW of PV on such embankments.

The Dutch authorities are struggling to identify surfaces on which to deploy large-scale PV plants due to the limited availability of land. In recent years, research institutes and private companies across the densely populated country have tried to prove the feasibility of solar projects on surfaces that do not damage agricultural land, including rooftops, road noise barriers, onshore and offshore water surfaces, and  bike lanes.

However, the country also has 3,500 km of dikes that could be used for PV. This is the goal of the Dutch Foundation for Applied Water Research (STOWA) and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), which are working on a joint research project to determine how much PV can be installed on such surfaces, and at what economic and environmental cost.

Initial project

Developers have already installed a 5 MW solar array on a dike near Groningen. “This dike has no water-barrier function anymore,” Maarten Dörenkämper, a researcher at TNO, told pv magazine.

The Dutch water authorities are currently reluctant to give permits for the construction of PV systems on dikes, however.

“The outcome of our research project should give the water authorities more tools to assess a permit application,” Dörenkämper said, noting that such projects would likely inject power into the grid. However, self consumption may also be considered, especially for water-pumping systems.

Dörenkämper said economic feasibility can be achieved. “This will depend on the specific location, where the project is planned,” he said.

PV systems may need to be constructed in ways that improve the original functionality of the dikes. That could present an attractive economic scenario, as dikes need to be regularly reinforced, regardless of solar PV development.

However, there are concerns about the technical feasibility of such plants. “There is concern about the grass mat, because a part of the light will be taken away,” Michelle Talsma, research manager at STOWA, told pv magazine. “There is also concern that during storms the ‘body of the dike’ will be damaged.” Read more …


The report was written by the editorial staff of “pv-magazine” (Emiliano Bellini) 2020 – the article may not be redistributed without permission!

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