Sinds 2017 werken wij samen met de grondeigenaren van het fruitteeltbedrijf Wijk Oord: Roy en Angenita Gieling. Na een lang traject met verscheidene uitdagingen, staan er sinds eind 2022 ruim 15.000 panelen naast de perenboomgaard van Roy en Angenita. Naast het kweken van peren wordt hier nu bloesemenergie voor 2.500 huishoudens opgewekt.
Walking around Roy and Angenita’s property you’ll pass 11 acres of conference pears, 7 acres of solar farm, a residential yard and a cold store to store the pears that have been harvested. But if you look closely, there is much more to see. Bees, bumblebees, butterflies and other insects fly everywhere, and you can hear the munching of sheep. In fact, Roy and Angenita are very concerned with biodiversity with their fruit farm. They felt this was also important in the construction of a solar farm.
Due to strong competition from Eastern Europe, growing our apples was no longer profitable. We first considered growing more pears on that land. But because of a hailstorm, disease or pest infestation, your harvest can be lost or affected. That makes you very vulnerable with just one crop. With the solar farm we have chosen to spread the risk with a fixed income. The sun is a constant factor and shines every year.
In addition, the free time we have gained is also very nice. Growing pears has really become a hobby that we enjoy even more!
TPSolar leases the land from us for 25 years. This is as long as the permit issued for the solar farm. After this period, we can renew or terminate the contract. The panels (or other technologies) will probably be much better by then. Or maybe we just want to use the land agriculturally again. In any case, the contract states that when the solar park is cleared, we will get the land back in the same condition as TPSolar got it. The future will tell.
Strengthening biodiversity! It was very important to us that the solar park would be designed with nature in mind. At first, we were a bit scared by stories about an industrial field with bare, dry soil and little greenery. Nothing turned out to be less true! TPSolar designed the solar farm in a nature-friendly way. For example, shiitakes are grown under the panels and sheep walk across the solar park like natural lawnmowers. Additional greenery has also been sown and the panels have been placed higher and in a south-facing arrangement. The sheep, the natural strip around the solar park, the cultivation under the panels and the flowers really bring everything to life. The solar park is not a dead thing, so much is alive!
The cooperation is good! We really like the fact that it is a family business. From the moment Erik and René sat down with us at the kitchen table, we immediately had a familiar feeling with them. It is not a big company, so it is always clear to us who we need for what. And even if we don’t know, we always get a quick response. Everything at TPSolar was in good consultation; they really involved us in everything. We did have some setbacks in the development of the park. That was annoying for both us and TPSolar and took a long time. They always handled and solved this well, including for us. Even now that the solar farm is in place, several of TPSolar’s colleagues still drop by or call from time to time. That gives us a familiar and good feeling.
Yes, we would definitely give them the same advice; because it gives peace of mind and security. A more stable business. We have now also gained extra time to do more business outside the farm.
The only thing we can think of in which situation we would not advise it is if the land is in the middle of a residential area. After all, it’s nice to have the solar farm a little remote so that living in the neighborhood remains nice for you and your neighbors.