Centrica Business Solutions and Albers Alligator launch a new, innovative way for greenhouse growers to generate energy with floating solar panels: Multi-F Solar. Solar panels are placed on the total cover (an algae cloth) on the grower's water reservoir.

Making it the first solution that uses floating solar panels in this way, specifically meant for water reservoirs in the Dutch greenhouse horticultural sector. In Kapelle, in the Dutch province of Zeeland, the first such project has been realized, with which enough energy for around a hundred households can be generated every year.

Centrica Business Solutions has been working as an energy service provider in the Dutch greenhouse horticultural sector for years. Albers Alligator, a specialist in flexible constructions, has been making water reservoirs and covers for the sector for over 125 years. With their combined expertise in energy generation and reservoir covers, the two parties take the next step in making the greenhouse horticultural sector more sustainable.

Solar panels on the water reservoir: Multi-F Solar
The solution of Centrica Business Solutions and Albers Alligator can be placed on both new and yet to be renovated water reservoirs, despite the size of the reservoir. On the floating, anchored cover by Albers Alligator, a construction is placed on which the solar panels are installed. The cover consists of floats, in between which a bag with water-permeable cloth hangs and fills up with water creating a ballast.

Unlike standard solutions using floating solar panels, the water bags are used to make sure the panels are not lifted or moved during (extreme) weather conditions. The entire thing is completely integrated into the water reservoir and offers all of the qualities found in a traditional algae cloth: countering algae growth and evaporation, and water pollution.

Adjusting existing solutions
According to Chris van Tiggelen, Head of Sales at Centrica Business Solutions, the new solution combines the best parts of sustainable energy generation with the protective qualities of the water reservoir cover: “Obviously, a greenhouse grower can’t place solar panels on the roof of the greenhouse. Without the need for extra space, this solution makes generating energy possible. The water reservoir is already there, and the cover remains completely functional. The only difference is that the grower now also profits from a complete solar deck that generates a large amount of energy. This can be used for their own use, and/ or they can return it to the energy grid. There must be a grid connection that can handle this, but many growers already have one of those since they use Combined heat and power (CHP).”

Ronald Edel, Managing Director at Albers Alligator, is also proud of the new solution: “Together, we have adjusted an already existing solution and made it available for generating energy, specifically for this sector. Growers get a completely lightproof coverage of the edges so that no photosynthesis can take place. By making optimal use of the space, we can also place 15% more PV panels compared to other solutions. In general, the system is suitable for every grower with a water reservoir, which makes it an easily accessible solution for becoming more sustainable.”

The installation at Plant nursery De Noordhoek

Efficient surface area utilization
The floating solar panel deck can be placed relatively quickly, depending on the layout of the location. At Plant nursery De Noordhoek in Kapelle, in the Dutch province of Zeeland, the first project with a Multi-F Solar was recently finished. Here, 1031 solar panels with a capacity of 428kWp each were installed on the Multi-F total cover.

Kees Verhage, the owner of De Noordhoek, together with his brother Henk: “It is an ideal solution for our sector. We wanted to become more sustainable, which is important to us as organic growers. We already generated energy for our greenhouse through solar panels on our barn. But, space on there is limited. The great thing about the solution of Centrica Business Solutions and Albers Alligator is that our water reservoir is now also completely utilized for generating energy, and it is completely made to fit. This is important because the more efficiently we use the surface area, the more interesting the investment becomes to us.”

Many of Centrica Business Solutions' clients in the greenhouse horticultural sector can combine floating solar panels with other sustainable energy sources. Van Tiggelen: “We already know many growers and the what is possible to reduce their emissions or further invest in sustainable energy. Think about CHP or utilizing flexible power with Demand Side Response and batteries. Multi-F Solar is a great addition to that. With our Energy Insights monitoring tools, we can always check the effectiveness of our panels so that the highest possible yield can be guaranteed.”

For more information: 
Albers Alligator Special Projects Ltd.                    
Ronald Edel
+31(0)317 419 144   

Centrica Business Solutions Ltd. 
Chris van Tiggelen
+31 (0)297 293 200