The largest solar process heat installation consisting of 10.5 MWth collector field (15 000 m² aperture area) opened last year in April in the Netherlands, contributing to a continuous growth trend of Solar Heat for Industrial Processes (SHIP) applications in Europe. Also, according to a Solar Payback survey, the system went on to become 2020’s largest industrial solar heat installation worldwide.
The solar thermal park provides renewable energy to Mol Freesia in Nibbixwoud, The Netherlands, a specialist in growing white, blue, and yellow freesias. Since 2020, the company’s greenhouses have been fully heated by solar collectors, marking an important decarbonisation step in switching from gas to solar heat.
The solar thermal park includes storage of 50 m³, one of 1 400 m³, and the overproduction of heat in summer is stored in the soil.
The Dutch publication, Solar Magazine named the project a significant step in sustainability, highlighting also the savings on energy bills that the company will benefit from in the future. G2Energy oversaw the development and construction of the installation, building on their experience with the previous largest installation of this kind in the Netherlands, Tesselaar Fressia opened in 2019.
The switch from gas to solar heat was part of a four-year plan Mol Freesia built while aiming to achieve a more sustainable way of operation.
‘’Staff is our biggest expense. A close second is the energy bill. There are four hectares of greenhouses here. We have to keep it warm at all times. Previously, we burned about 750 000 cubic meters of natural gas every year for this purpose. That costs a lot of money and more importantly: it was not very sustainable. That is not what we, our customers, and the government want. That’s why we changed course four years ago and made a sustainability plan’’ said Jeroen Mol, who is in charge of the family business together with his brother.