Netherlands-based aluminium producer, Aldel, is to partner with solar specialist Ecorus in a new initiative which is seeking to accelerate the development of solar power in the region. Aldel has agreed to make its electricity transmission infrastructure available to allow Ecorus, and other solar operators to connect to the Netherlands’ public electricity distribution grid. As a first step, work will commence on connecting up a solar park developed by Ecorus on an industrial site owned by local construction firm Gebroeders Borg in neighbouring Farmsum. By partnering with Aldel, it will be able to feed the entire peak output of 4.5MW from the Borg site into the public electricity grid over Aldel’s existing network connection.
The move is a significant step forward in in the implementation of Aldel’s broader green agenda. As a heavy energy user, Aldel is already playing an important role as a “virtual battery” in helping keep the grid in balance, by switching off consumption in periods of high demand. This has helped the public electricity grid to adapt to meet the demands of a more distributed model of energy generation and supply. This is particularly important now that wind and solar, whose output fluctuates with the weather, are providing a growing proportion of the country’s energy needs.
Aldel is also aiming to assist other renewable producers who are looking to feed electricity into the public grid using its infrastructure. There is currently a significant backlog in connecting up new providers to the grid as a result of the rapid growth in the Netherlands of new, largely small and larger-scale solar and wind farm particularly in the Northern parts of The Netherlands. High supply of new energy and relatively low energy demand and hence limited capacity in the infrastructure in this part of The Netherlands results in infrastructure congestion. Connecting via an existing large user with the necessary infrastructure, provides a quicker and cheaper route for renewable energy providers to bring their output to the market and helps to resolve the congestion issues.
Discussions are ongoing with other solar park specialists with a view to also connecting them up to the public grid via Aldel. Aldel is also installing solar panels on its own site in Delfzijl in cooperation with Ecorus. The agreement with Ecorus regarding the Borg site is subject to the approval of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), which is considering the application to allow the use Aldel’s infrastructure for third party access.
Chris McNamee, Aldel CEO said: “This is a win-win on all sides. As a large user of electricity, we can play a unique role in supporting the more rapid adoption of renewables by making our infrastructure available to small scale renewable producers looking to gain access to the grid. For solar producers, such as Ecorus we can offer a faster, easier, cheaper and less complicated to connect to the distribution network and find customers for their green energy, something we can all wholeheartedly support.”