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World’s Largest Solar Power Carport Launched

A 35 MW solar power carport with 90,000 solar panels was launched the first week of May in the Netherlands. Biddinghuizen is the solar carport location, which is the same site for the annual Lowlands music festival. The festival receives tens of thousands of visitors each year, so the parking area covers 35 hectares and provides 15,000 parking spaces. Carports are typically effective sites for solar power installations because they provide flat surfaces that aren’t being used for anything else, so it is not necessary to use any additional land.

Solarfields, a company based in the Netherlands, installed the solar power system and made it operational. (The company has a goal that about one million Dutch homes will have sustainable electricity by 2030.)

Esther Terpstra, Solarfields’ Communications Manager, answered some questions about the solar carport for CleanTechnica.

Is the capacity of the huge solar carport enough to provide electricity for all the needs of the Lowlands festival?

Lowlands aims to run its festival entirely on green energy in two years’ time. The solar panels in the parking lot must eventually be connected to a battery, so that the energy can be used directly for the festival and no generators are needed anymore. Only 1 percent of the 90,000 solar panels are needed to power the festival.

Before using the solar carport electricity, where did the electricity come from and what fuel was used? What was the cost for each festival?

The annual Lowlands Festival takes place at a fixed location in Biddinghuizen. The organization has been working for years to make the festival more sustainable. Energy consumption remains a challenge here. Approximately 300,000 kWh of electricity is consumed per Lowlands edition. Generators currently generate almost all electricity. The costs are unknown to us.

What was the cost of the solar carport and what are the projected savings in energy costs?

We cannot disclose the exact investment, but these are significant investments (and not possible without a subsidy). The 90,000 solar panels generate enough green energy for about 10,000 households.

About how many people attend the Lowlands festival each year, and are there other events throughout the year?

Lowlands annually attracts 60,000 visitors. Only a few times a year the site is used as a parking lot. Besides Lowlands, the site is also used for other festivals, including Defcon and Walibi Fright Nights. When no cars are parked, the area is grazed by sheep.

Image credit: Solarfields

Why was it decided to construct such a solar power carport there?

In the Netherlands we have to be aware of the available space. A solar carport is a perfect example of double use of space. In this case even triple through the use of bifacial solar panels. As a result, the grass grows which is good for the biodiversity!

Who will use the electricity generated by the carport when there are no events taking place at the site?

The generated power is supplied to the grid, after which it is distributed among the users in the area. So the power is always used.

Does the location currently have EV chargers, or will there be some EV chargers installed?

At the moment it is not yet financially feasible to install charging stations at this location. This is due to the fact that the site is not used as a parking lot throughout the year. Hopefully this will change in the upcoming years.

Image credit: Solarfields

What are some of the advantages of installing solar panels on carports?

No parking space was lost during construction, the cars are sheltered in the shade and at the same time an enormous amount of electricity is generated. It is a perfect way to make The Netherlands more sustainable. We hope to be able to deliver many more solutions like this one.

How long did it take to install all the solar panels and make the carport electricity system operational?

Installing and getting it operational didn’t take the most time (this is a matter of months), but the process was much longer. A lot of coordination with different parties is required in projects like this. You also need a permit. In addition, it is unfortunately not yet possible in the Netherlands to realize such a project without a subsidy. In total, the whole process took about 4 years. We are therefore very grateful that the solar carport now generates power!

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