Last week we brought you news of Europe’s biggest floating solar plant. This week we highlight Europe’s largest solar process heat system
The largest solar process heat system in Europe opened in October 2019 in Heerhugowaard in the Netherlands. It consists of 9,300 m² of solar collectors that provide 5,000 MWh of renewable heat to the Tesselaar Freesia company, which specializes in the sustainable cultivation of freesias.
The project has been realised by G2Energy and it can be categorized as Solar Heat for Industrial Processes (SHIP). It involved an investment of around € 3 million including a contribution of a € 500,000 subsidy from the European rural development program for the province of Noord-Holland.
100% CO2 neutral
This new system more than doubles the size of the SHIP plant installed in the paper mill owned by the Lecta Group in Condat, France. When it came into operation in January 2019, that was the largest SHIP plant in Europe, with a size of 4,213 m².
The system supplies Tesselaar’s greenhouse with completely CO2 neutral energy, replacing the need for 400,000 m3 of gas. The solar collectors convert sunlight into usable heat, which is captured in a back-flow unit and transferred via a heat exchanger to the heating circuit. The amount of heat generated in Tesselaar Freesia is comparable to the annual consumption of around 300 households.
The preheated water is stored in a 1,300 m3 thermal storage, to keep the greenhouses warm at night with heat generated during the day. Any excess heat produced can be stored in the ground with a heat-cold storage (WKO) system. On particularly hot days, the system will pump cold water up to cool the crops. In winter time, the hot water will be pumped up and the cooled water pushed back into the soil to keep it in balance.
The project in Heerhugowaard is not likely to remain the largest solar heating project in Europe: G2 Energy is already working on a similar system of 15,000 square metres!