Participation 3 min. reading time

Collaboration that energizes you Part I/III

In Part I of this triptych, Lylian Dwarkasing explains why participation is so important, even in renewable energy. What is support, how do you work with many parties and how does participation work? Read more here.

How do you realize a solar farm that is locally embedded? One that makes as many people as possible happy? Our answer: by allowing residents to participate as much as possible during the development of the farm and by ensuring that the solar farm has added value for the environment. This involves financial, landscape and social added value. Today, project manager Lylian Dwarkasing talks about Novar's participation philosophy and why cooperation is so valuable. 'Something really emerges from the community itself.'


'We cannot get around it: the arrival of a solar park is a change for the environment. The development process for a park is an environmental process: local support is important. We notice that residents are often critical and that the government imposes more and more requirements in permit applications regarding the participation of local residents. But that does not stand in the way of cooperation.'

Durable heart

'I am an organizational scientist by birth and have a sustainable heart. It started beating faster when I worked in Malaysia for a sustainable biotech company. Since four years I am back in Groningen and I notice that the energy transition has become a hot topic. Before joining Novar in early 2019, I helped set up a local energy initiative in East Groningen. This introduced me to the drive and potential of local initiators and energy cooperatives. Then, at Novar, I experienced how strengthening support has a place in daily work and life. That immediately gave me a good feeling. That's what I wanted to work on.

Building together

'Apart from stricter requirements, we at Novar have long seen the importance of support. As a renewable energy producer, we enter into a long-term relationship with the stakeholders in a municipality or region. People should have a good feeling about renewable energy. That's why we prefer to build the energy transition together with residents and other stakeholders.

Added value through co-decisions

'The key word in creating support is participation. For this reason, Novar invites residents and other stakeholders in the area to participate in the realization of the solar farm. Support is created when you develop a solar farm together and with added value for the surrounding area. We stick our necks out; we repeatedly invite the surrounding area to participate and also to remain actively involved. Decisions about the participation process and the design of the farm are, as far as possible, made by the stakeholders themselves.

"We prefer to build with residents."

- Lylian Dwarkasing

Working from the bottom up

'Collaborating with local initiators has so much added value. The great thing about an energy cooperative, for example, is that such an organization has thought carefully about the impact on the environment. People in such a cooperative know what is going on and know the landscape. You notice that when you talk to them. Novar now has more than ten projects in which a cooperative is actively involved in a solar park. We see that this works.

However, a cooperative must be ready: the development of a solar park is a lot of work and requires knowledge and takes time. This applies, for example, to a permit application for a park. We also expect local initiators to participate in pre-investment. If a cooperative becomes 50 percent owner, it is desirable that we cooperate and invest equally from the beginning.'

"I'm proud of how we're handling this."

- Lylian Dwarkasing

Working together gives energy

'Of course we can show cooperatives the way and support them where possible. We spar and co-write the plans. That is cooperation that gives you energy. We prove our added value as a cooperation partner in the field of technical solutions for connections to the grid, experiences with participation and in the field of financing. Such cooperation is better for everyone. It creates something from the bottom up that also allows us as Novar to really give something back to the community. I am proud of how we are approaching this.

Participating in practice

'We divide participation into three levels. First, we inform the environment as early as possible and throughout the solar park development process. In addition, we make designs in cooperation with the environment in order to create social and ecological added value. We also guarantee that the surrounding area can also benefit from the park. This can be done, for example, through an area fund, bonds or local ownership. 

Novar always aims for 50 percent local ownership, if this is desirable and feasible in the area. Working together thus provides, for the community with a one-time effort, substantial money over the next 25 to 30 years to preserve and enhance livability for local residents.

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