Solar Farm
Solar Park 8 min. reading time

Floating solar park

A floating solar park makes smart use of space. Yet we don't see them very much in the Netherlands yet. Understandably, you may have questions about this sustainable solution. Therefore, on this page we answer the most frequently asked questions about floating solar parks.

What is a floating solar farm?

A floating solar park is a pond with solar panels on the water, combined with so-called floats. These floats are attached to the bottom so that the park does not float away when the wind blows and waves are created. The big advantage of a floating solar park is that the solar park can generate relatively more energy than a solar park on ground and roof. Usually we use an east-west arrangement here so that we catch the most sun. The water acts as a big mirror, catching more irradiation and we have even more energy output on such a park.

In the Netherlands, in addition to solar panels on rooftops, we mostly see ground-mounted solar parks. But in the Netherlands, land is scarce. So we need to be creative with our space. Novar thinks in terms of possibilities and is always looking for alternative locations where solar energy can be generated. One such alternative location is a pond. We then place a floating solar park on it.

How does a floating solar farm work?

In essence, a floating solar park works the same as a ground-mounted park. The solar panels generate power and the power is fed back into the grid. However, there are some differences.

A solar farm on water is built using floats on a steel structure. Large part of the construction is assembled on site on land. This allows us to assemble up to 2,000 solar panels per day! The floats are brought by boat to the right place on the lake and then assembled together. The solar panels are angled to form small roofs. The roofs with solar panels are mounted at a certain distance from each other so that enough daylight still reaches the water. 

In addition, we lay a walkway over the floats. So that maintenance can be carried out easily, but also a defect can be fixed more easily.

The solar panels attached to floats are connected to inverters. These inverters are then connected to transformer houses that in some cases are also located on the floating solar farm. Depending on the location, these houses can also be chosen to be placed on the shore.

Finally, the entire structure is anchored and securely fastened. In this way, the construction remains in place and we exert the least possible influence on the ecology at the edges of the pond. After all, the edges have the highest ecological value, and we absolutely do not want to disturb them.

What locations are suitable for solar panels on water?

The most suitable location for a floating solar park is an (old) sand mining lake. You often cannot swim in these ponds because the banks may collapse or because sand extraction is still taking place. Because these ponds are often very deep even at the shore, dangerous situations can arise. In addition, a sand extraction site is not created by nature, but purely for sucking up sand and/or gravel. As a result, there are often low natural values.

Sand extraction companies must additionally declare a destination when operations cease. It can then be a challenge to still get returns from the pond. Sand extraction sites that are still in use lend themselves extremely well to a solar park on water. Often, certain parts of a sand mining site are depleted and therefore no more sand is extracted from the pond in those areas. These exhausted parts of the sand extraction site, can, by means of a solar park on water, provide interesting returns while the regular sand extraction continues. In this way, we make smart use of the "superfluous" space.

Of course, other bodies of water are also suitable for solar panels. For example, (former) fish ponds, dredging depots, water purification sites, savings basins or other forms of inland waters can also be interesting for generating renewable solar energy.

Novar is currently developing projects with floating solar parks at the A6 sand extraction site in Eesterga and at Domelaar II in Markelo.

Wondering if your water is suitable? Feel free to contact .

Renting out your pond for solar panels

If you own a lake of at least 10 acres, you can lease or sell it to Novar. This brings benefits:

  • Return on investment solar farm: You will receive an interesting and stable return for 25-30 years;
  • We take care of everything, you don't have to worry about the park and how it performs;
  • The pond will have a new function of generating renewable energy;
  • When the operating period is over, we clean everything up again.

Novar specializes in creating a solar park on water. Once you have made the choice to deploy your pond, we first sign the land contracts. Then we move to the permitting phase and a lot of attention is paid to this beforehand. We fully map the flora and fauna in and around the pond and present a plan on how to preserve or even improve it. We consider this to be very important. With a complete plan we go to the municipality to present the initiative. Read more about who Novar is.

Once the environmental permit is obtained, we register the plan for SDE++ subsidy. A solar park, both on land and on water, needs this subsidy to be profitable. Because this subsidy round is expected to have one round starting in 2021, it is important to prepare the plan well. Novar has extensive experience in obtaining the SDE++ subsidy. Once the subsidy is in, the very last step is financing. We work together with German and Dutch banks. We obtain the loan on the basis of project financing. Getting new energy done also means that together we establish the contracts at the notary. This is the moment when the payment of retribution starts, but also the start of construction of the park. The latter takes several months, depending on the size of the park.

Rent out or sell?

At Novar, we offer a choice; lease the pond or sell it. If you lease the pond, we come to an agreement that we can generate renewable energy at the site for 25-30 years. The advantage is that you don't have to worry about the whole process, but still have nice income. In addition, of course, you remain the owner of the lake. 

If you sell the puddle, we take over ownership at the time we establish the purchase agreement at the notary, and that's when payment takes place.

Wondering what we can do for you? Contact us soon!

The development of a floating solar park

The development of a floating solar farm has many similarities to a ground-mounted solar farm. Below we briefly explain the steps:

Step 1: The agreement

The project starts with a signing of the agreement between the landowner and Novar. Together we lay down all agreements, including the amount of the fee, clearly in advance. This is the basis for good cooperation and with this we can draw up a plan for the application for an environmental permit. 

Step 2: Environmental permit

The second step is the submission of an environmental permit. For this to go well, we invest a lot of time and energy in the preliminary process. Municipalities often have policies about solar parks and requirements they must meet. For example, a flora-fauna study is often a requirement. We carry out an ecological study as well as preparing a design for the construction. Only when both of us, landowner and Novar, are satisfied with the design and the studies have been properly carried out do we submit a permit application. The municipality considers the project and it is tested on a number of points. 

If we get the green light from the municipality, we can start talking to the immediate surroundings of the floating solar park. We do this by means of an information evening. During such an evening we present the draft plans and gather feedback from the surrounding area. We also talk to local residents in person. This happens prior to the information evening, because this is an important target group for a pleasant cooperation. In addition to explaining the development and the plans, together we form the final design of the solar park. In this way, we can take into account the requirements of the surrounding area as much as possible.

Once the municipality has given approval on the participation plan, the studies conducted and the way we have created support, they will process the permit. Depending on the procedure, we will receive an irrevocable environmental permit within a few months and we can proceed to the next step.

An important aspect at this stage of development, is grid integration. The floating solar park produces energy and we feed it back into the power grid. In some cases this does not work and we have to look for other solutions. For example, it is possible to connect to industry with a large consumer connection and you can combine the cable with wind energy.

Step 3: SDE++ subsidy

To date, a floating solar farm needs a subsidy to be profitable. This operating subsidy, the SDE++ subsidy, provides the solar farm with a guaranteed price per kilowatt hour (kWh) generated in the first 15 years. Starting in 2021, the subsidy will only be offered once a year. Once the project has a signed land agreement, the environmental permit and a grid incorporation, you can apply for the subsidy. It is important to make preparations for this in time so that the round is not missed.

Step 4: Funding

Once the SDE++ subsidy is obtained, financing of the floating solar park can begin. This project financing is based on a loan and is repaid to the lender at least during the period of the SDE++(15 years). Novar has built up a finance team with extensive experience in financing both ground-based and floating solar parks. The financing is also the last point in the development agreement and when this is completed we speak of a positive outcome of the project. The establishment of building conditions or transfer of ownership will take place within four weeks. In addition, the payment of retribution now begins if leasing the pond is chosen, or the transaction of the purchase price takes place if selling the pond is chosen.

Step 5: Construction

The construction of a floating solar park is a relatively quick process, many parts of the structure are delivered ready-made. To assemble the components of the solar park, a space is cleared on the shore of the pond. This acts as temporary storage during construction. The construction of a solar park on water consists of so-called floats with six panels and inverters on them, called rafts. These rafts are usually launched in batches of six to 10 at a time on a laid rail and a small boat sails it to its destination. Because much of the construction is assembled on the shore, construction of a solar farm on the water is relatively quick. Up to one hundred rafts can be launched into the water in a single day. 

Step 6: Managing the park

Once the floating solar park is built and connected to the power grid, it can produce power for the next 25-30 years. However, during the operating period, the park must also be monitored. This part is "asset management," and this is something Novar handles itself. Because the solar park has components that enhance flora and fauna, it is important to monitor whether this has the desired result. An asset manager is the point of contact for the solar park if there are problems that need to be resolved.

We also monitor the performance of the park. Among other things, we keep track of whether the predetermined performance targets are met, whether there are technical defects and whether the solar park on water continues to meet the requirements of the environmental permit. 

Ecology and biodiversity floating solar farm

A certain degree of biodiversity is present in almost every pond. When developing a floating solar park, we make every effort to preserve and, if possible, enhance the quality of life. This can be done in many different ways, and based on the flora and fauna present, we come up with a specific plan. The goal is to deliver the pond, after the operating period, with a better and more varied biodiversity. 

Support and participation floating solar farm

Support among local residents and people living in the area is essential for Novar. Also with floating solar parks. Developing a solar park on water involves changes for the immediate living environment, which is why it is relevant to go through this process together. For example, we offer local residents to make the technical drawing together and take into account all wishes and requirements as much as possible. People living in the area are invited to view the sketches of the plans during an information evening. During such an evening, feedback on the plan is collected and we take this into account in the final decision-making. 

We are also looking at how local residents and the immediate area can also benefit from the solar park on water. For example, depending on demand in the area, we are offering a bond scheme. This will give people a fictitious piece of the solar park for an attractive return. In addition, the municipality is also setting up spearheads to promote support and we are seeking cooperation with an energy cooperative. 

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