Seventy percent of Dutch energy must be renewable by 2030. Substantial investments are being made in wind and solar energy, both on land and at sea. Dairy Campus plays a unique role in the energy transition: we are working with government agencies, businesses and research institutes to investigate the options for dairy farming as an energy producer.
At Dairy Campus we have been working on new forms of energy for many years. We have our own on-site manure digester that produces sustainable energy, and we have also installed solar panels. Over the next few years we will be focusing on novel concepts and innovative ways of incorporating existing concepts into the landscape, and investigating the ecological effects of these applications.
In the future, Dairy Campus plans to produce green energy by:
- Using lightweight, 100% recyclable solar panels
- Developing hybrid concepts that optimise solar energy generation and grass production in tandem
- Generating wind power with wind turbines, particularly small-scale ones
- We also focus strongly on energy conservation, capturing released heat and using existing cooling systems as a heat pump
These existing and new developments are raising many questions in the field. For example, the construction of outdoor solar farms is a contentious issue for many farmers and citizens as they involve taking an area of agricultural land out of production. These farms are also often seen as causing visual pollution in the countryside, and their impact on biodiversity is unknown. Furthermore, it is not yet clear what the environmental impact on the soil and soil life will be.
Experimenting with innovative sustainable solutions
These issues call for research and innovative solutions. Working with research institutes, government agencies, project developers, businesses and the sector, we want to investigate the options for combining agriculture and solar energy production on and around Dairy Campus. We also see potential in installing solar panels on top of our forage trench silos. Another option could be to use mobile solar panel units, which would enable the fields to be used for grazing. This combined function not only contributes to the energy transition but also reduces pressure on the use of scarce agricultural land for solar panels.
We are also working on some ideas for wind energy. At Dairy Campus we are particularly interested in the potential for installing small-scale wind turbines. We have already gained a lot of experience in manure and biomass digestion and have our own on-site digester supplied by Evergreen Energy Inc.