Energy transition

Solar Power in the Port

You can’t see them from ground level, but they’re increasingly being installed on company roofs in the port: solar panels. That’s great news, because the sun is one of the port’s most sustainable energy sources. Roofs full of solar panels: a fantastic development according to Michel Bresser, Area Manager and ‘Solar Manager’ at the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

‘Renewable energy such as wind and solar power is crucial in making the port more sustainable. That’s why we think it’s important that companies use solar power where possible.’ He’d like to emphasise the ‘where possible’. Because solar panels aren’t always an option. ‘Roofs must meet various requirements; for example, a roof must have adequate load-bearing capacity, the building must have a large enough connection to the power grid, and the panels must be able to remain in place for fifteen years.’ That’s why Michel and a team are offering advice to companies that aim to use solar power, as there’s plenty of potential for this on roofs in the port. An increasing number of companies are installing solar panels on roofs. And that’s logical because it is an attractive way of becoming more sustainable. These days it’s also often possible without companies having to invest much themselves.

4 examples in the port

1. Cool Port

Cooled strawberries If there’s one place that needs a lot of energy, it’s Cool Port. Fruit and other foodstuffs are stored cooled and frozen in Kloosterboer’s refrigeration and freezer warehouses. The location in Eemhaven has more than enough space for solar panels: the roof is 27,000 m2. ‘We have almost 11,000 solar panels,’ explained Project Manager Jeffrey van der Krogt. Jeffrey: ‘These have an installed capacity of 2.93 MWp, which amounts to an output of 2,637 MWh, comparable with the consumption of 737 households. Solar panels mainly generate electricity during hot days and we also consume a lot of electricity on these days to cool the warehouses. It’s interesting for us that we can use the electricity we generate immediately.’ On a good day, the location can run on solar power the whole day. During peak hours, the sun even provides so much power that the company can supply power back to the grid. ‘I can really recommend using solar panels. You don’t recoup your investments very quickly, but as a family company we’re focusing on the future and we’ll certainly be able to recoup our investment in the long term. An advantage is also that the government is offering a fifteen-year subsidy.’ A fun detail: a number of black panels form the word Kloosterboer on the Cool Port roof.

2. Wafer-thin film

Vopak mainly has tank roofs available. And these are different from roofs on warehouses and offices. Tank roofs are round and angled and can’t simply be subject to heavy loads. That’s why the company is looking beyond solar panels that are suitable for normal roofs. The tank storage company has recently had flexible, thin and lightweight Solar Powerfoil installed on the Vopak Vlaardingen storage tank roof. The most important products stored at this terminal are edible oils. ‘Large amounts of energy are needed to store and pump these products, because many edible oils are prone to congealing in our climate,’ stated Ard Huisman, Managing Director of Vopak Vlaardingen. ‘As well as insulation, this Solar Powerfoil is one of the measures we are currently testing to see how we can further reduce our CO₂ footprint.’ If the test proves successful, other tank roofs and tank walls can be fitted with solar film.

Solar powerfoil op een tankdak van Vopak.

3. Solar power on roofs

It’s not only port business that have installed solar panels: the Port of Rotterdam Authority has also equipped a number of its own company buildings with solar panels. There are already 0.56 MWp in panels on Maasvlakte Plaza and the Scheepsbouwloods on RDM. Panels can apparently be installed on over twenty of these buildings. A subsidy application has been submitted for the installation of these. By equipping these buildings with solar panels, the Port Authority will be able to generate part of its annual energy needs itself.

4. Floating panels

The Central Government Real Estate Agency (RVB), Rijkswaterstaat (RWS) and the Port of Rotterdam Authority plan to install a new floating solar farm in the Port of Rotterdam and are currently looking for a suitable party. The floating solar panels are to be installed on Slufter, the depot for contaminated dredged material on Maasvlakte. If a solar farm is constructed on Slufter, this will enable the installation of 80 to 100 MW in solar panels, equivalent to the electricity consumption of 33.000 households.

Sun in the port

Working alongside companies in the port, the Port of Rotterdam Authority is working to create a sustainable, CO2-neutral port. Generating and using their own solar energy is a logical first step for companies aiming to improve their sustainability.

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