Belgium to host its first “giant” solar park


The Minister of Energy of the Belgian Flemish-speaking macro-region of Flanders, Bart Tommelein has revealed that a 100 MW solar power project is currently being planned near Tommel, in eastern Belgium, and that the region’s government is seeking to establish the level of incentives that will be awarded to the project.

The project, dubbed Kristal Solar Park, was submitted to the local authorities by the municipality of Lommel and the local investment agency, Limburgse investeringsmaatschappij (LRM) a month ago and, as soon as the project is approved, the Flemish Energy Agency (Vlaams Energieagentschap – VEA) will set the final banding factor for its development, Tommelein said.

The banding factor, introduced by the Flemish government in 2013, is a system used to differentiate the support to the different renewable energy technologies and to prevent clean energies from being oversubsidized.

The VEA has provisionally set a banding factor of 0.8 for the Kristal Solar Park, which means it would be entitled to sell power at a price of €78/MWh, Tommelein specified. This tariff would be granted over a 15-year period. The buyer of all of the power generated by the facility would be the local zinc and lead manufacturer, Nyrstar.

“Flanders urgently needs large solar projects with a capacity of more than 750 KW. Since the reform of the green certificate system was introduced in 2013, no large solar park has been built anymore,” Tommelein stressed.

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Construction on the solar park is planned to start in September 2018, with completion scheduled within nine months.

If compared with the ultra-mega solar projects that are being developed in India, which have each a capacity ranging from 500 MW to 2 GW, the Kristal Solar Park is not exactly a “giant” solar plant.

However,  if we look at the solar energy landscape of Belgium, which has a limited availability of land, it represents a major milestone in its further development, as no facility of this dimension has ever been proposed in the country, even in the times when generous green certificates were granted to ground-mounted projects.

Most of Belgium’s installed PV capacity, which was around 3.42 GW at the end of 2016, is represented by rooftop PV systems. According to local association APERE, around 60% of the grid-connected PV systems in Belgium have a capacity of up to 10 kW, while most of the remaining share is represented by commercial and industrial rooftop installations.

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