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The construction of the largest solar thermal park in the Netherlands has begun

Sustainable heat used for natural gas-free Groningen

Area developer K3delta, solar project developer Solarfields and solar system supplier TVP Solar officially started the development of the largest solar thermal park in the Netherlands for sustainable utility company WarmteStad. The solar thermal park has an area of ​​12 hectares and will supply sustainable heat to the heating network of Groningen. The solar heat is sufficient for 25 percent of all heat production and will be consumed by more than 10,000 households. The technical innovative solar project will be built on the former dredging depot in Dorkwerd, near the city of Groningen. The park is ecologically integrated into the landscape and will be commissioned in 2023.

Sustainable solution for more than thousands of Groningen residents

The park is a sustainable and local solution in the challenge we face in the Netherlands when it comes to sustainable energy generation. It is an important project in realizing a CO2-neutral and natural gas-free Groningen. With the help of TVP solar collectors and the advent of the new heat station – which will be opened on the 3rd of November as well – the heat from the sun will be collected and converted to sustainable heat for thousands of Groningen residents. In this way solar thermal is a sustainable, innovative, and safe solution for the Groningen heat supply.

Dick Takkebos, director of WarmteStad, explains: “Solar thermal energy is one of the natural energy sources that we use to heat households and companies in Groningen in a sustainable way. This solar heat is mainly obtained in summer but is most needed in winter. We solve this by storing part of the heat in the summer; the so-called seasonal storage. In this way we take care of our own Groningen energy together. At any time of the year.”

New technique

This project contains a new technology. More than 24,000 solar collectors are used. The difference with ‘regular’ collectors is that no electricity will be generated, but heat. Instead of cables, there is running water through the solar panels. The water heats up to 85 degrees Celsius on sunny days. A special high vacuum technique in the collectors, makes it possible to produce these high temperatures in an efficient way.

Jan Martijn Buruma, project director of Solarfields, explains: “With this technology we are able to contribute to a natural gas-free Groningen. Moreover, with solar thermal energy we do not burden the local transport capacity of the electricity grid. This leaves capacity for other sustainable projects. An additional advantage of solar thermal is the fact that you can connect older buildings without having to make too many architectural adjustments. And, the vacuum solar collectors are also fully recyclable. Altogether, this is an innovative and sustainable solution with a lot of potential, also for the rest of the Netherlands.


When designing the solar thermal park, a lot of thought has been given to natural integration into the landscape. Of the 22-hectare dredging depot, 12 hectares are intended for solar thermal energy, whereby the ecology around the solar collectors has been examined. The other 10 hectares will be used for nature. An ecological development plan has been drawn up by an ecologist for the entire 22-hectare site. By seeking connection with the whole site and with the environment, we looked further than just the design of a solar thermal park.

Approach in consultation with the environment

The plan for the solar thermal park was discussed with the surrounding area at an early stage. Marloes Sprong-Ariëns of K3: “In the discussions with the local residents, the main request was to put maximum effort in the ecology of this area. We asked an ecologist to develop a plan in consultation with the local beekeepers’ association, several local residents and the authorities. As a result, a few adjustments were made to the plan during this coordination. For example, the use of a concrete foundation has been abandoned. The park is now being built on piles, so that less concrete is needed and there is more room for flower-rich and herb-rich grassland.”

About the dredging depot

The depot was put into use during the construction of the Van Starckenborgh Canal in the 1930s. Until the 1990s it was used by the province of Groningen as a dredging depot. In 2006 the operation was taken over by Grondbank GMG. Grondbank is a subsidiary of K3. In recent years, the depot has been an important application location for the Winschoterdiep dredging project and for several large projects in the city of Groningen. In 2020 Grondbank GMG completed the completion of the depot.

The province, K3 and Solarfields made agreements in 2018 for the development of a solar thermal park. The initiative arises from the combination of Grondbank GMG’s search for a sustainable design after completion of the depot and the heat demand of Warmtestad. The area is therefore now being developed into a landscaped solar thermal park. In this way the space is used as efficiently as possible.

Involved partners

Province of Groningen, Municipality of Groningen, Triodos Bank, Zernike Campus, TVP, Aalborg CSP and Ysubsidie.

About Solarfields

Solarfields is a Groningen developer of sustainable energy and realizes solar energy systems. The company is the market leader in large-scale ground-based solar parks. Solarfields realizes solar projects on various types of locations such as land, roofs, former waste dump sites and parking lots. All with the aim of making the Netherlands more sustainable and supplying clean energy to 1 million households by 2030.

About Warmtestad

WarmteStad is the sustainable heating company in Groningen. WarmteStad was founded by the municipality of Groningen and Waterbedrijf Groningen, you can’t get more locally rooted. Our goal is to make a significant contribution with our heat networks to the city of Groningen, which aims to be C02 neutral by 2035.

About K3

K3 specializes in area development with an eye for nature and landscape. This also includes the landscape integration of sustainable energy initiatives. The K3 organization consists of five subsidiaries that, each with its own specialty, facilitate these landscapes of the future.

About TVP

TVP Solar is the manufacturer and supplier of innovative vacuum plate solar collectors. These solar collectors are used in projects where high temperatures are needed. Such as in district heating or in process industry. The collectors can make heat up to 180 degrees Celsius. The company is located in Geneve, Swiss.

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