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Renewable energies are one solution to global warming. Accelerating their implementation is now a matter of urgency and will require the mass-market rollout of existing solutions. In Belgium and the Netherlands, VINCI Energies Belgium through its brand Omexom is taking on multiple photovoltaic solar projects.

The European Union is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 (compared with 1990) and to becoming the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050. To achieve targets like these, it is essential to wean ourselves off fossil fuels and accelerate the development of renewable energies.

Of all renewables, solar appears to be the most potent driver for this energy transition. According to the Solar Power Europe association, 2023 marked a new record in solar installations in Europe. This is the third consecutive year that the market has grown by 40% or more.

This momentum can be attributed to lower equipment prices (down 20 to 25% over the year), but as Gunter Luyckx, Business Unit Manager at Omexom and specialised in engineering and installing solar power systems in Belgium and the Netherlands, explains: “The solar sector is facing a shortage of available land to develop new facilities.”

Because of this pressure, he adds, “ It is important that as many available roofs as possible are fitted with a solar system. Furthermore, car parks at businesses premisses, shopping centres and hospitals are ideal for building a solar carport. Furthermore, it is possible to build floating solar installations or freefield installations. For these last two solutions, it is more difficult to get permits in Belgium”

New technological building bricks

Other opportunities are there to be seized. Take for example the Ophelia project in France, which aims to develop the linear solar power sector, characterised by solar farm installations on long and narrow land surfaces (dams, roads, railways, etc.). Launched by its five partners (Compagnie Nationale du Rhône, Nexans, Schneider Electric, SNCF and SuperGrid Institute) in September 2023, this goal of this five-year, €20 million project is to create a 900-metre-long linear solar canopy demonstrator providing shade to the ViaRhôna cycle track along the banks of the Rhône.

VINCI Energies business units are involved in similar projects to develop new technological building blocks for improving the energy mix and reducing carbon emissions. “The big challenge lies in addressing the intermittent nature of solar energy,” says Koen Jonkers, Business Unit Manager at Omexom. “That’s why we are developing more and more solar projects coupled with electricity storage solutions.”

“The solar sector is facing a shortage of available land”

VINCI Energies is constantly increasing its contribution to the rollout of solar energy. In addition to iconic projects such as Zonnepark Hemmen in the Netherlands and Solar Carport Boortmalt in Belgium (see box), Omexom Belgium has several original and innovative operations to its credit.

Projects in the agricultural and industrial sectors

In 2021, for the floriculture specialist Bernhard, based in Luttelgeest in the northern Netherlands, Omexom installed 40,000 solar panels with a total capacity of 13 MWp (Megawatt peak), 1.8 MWp of which is from panels floating on around 2 hectares of ponds. This farm produces invaluable energy for greenhouse heating and lighting, and also uses reclaimed rainwater. Before this transition to renewable energies, Bernhard was using around 15 million cubic metres of natural gas a year.

In the same activity sector, in 2016, Omexom completed a large-scale project for the bulb specialist Haakman Flowerbulbs: a 1 MWp solar farm producing 1,084 MWh of renewable energy annually.

More recently, the sand and gravel producer K3Delta entrusted Omexom with the installation of a 6.4 MWp floating solar farm on Lingemeer, a lake southeast of Utrecht and former agricultural area, which over the last 20 years has become a water leisure park. The project, which was completed in 2022, required the placement of 80 concrete blocks on the lake bed to stabilise the solar farm. Thanks to this installation, the sand extraction taking place on part of the site now emits much smaller quantities of greenhouse gases.

Monitoring growth

In this context of strong growth in VINCI Energies solar activities, its business unit Omexom RE Solar, which specialises in solar power plant construction, decided to create its own hypervisor tool – OkiO – to monitor all its business management assets and access key data from all these sites in real time, in order to optimise energy production.


37,736 panels for 5,000 homes

In April 2023, Zonnepark Hemmen was commissioned in the municipality of Overbetuwe, at the heart of the Dutch province of Gelderland. The site, a 20-hectare meadow, is bordered by a motorway and a railway line. With no fewer than 37,736 solar panels, the installation generates 24.81 MWp of green energy, enough to meet the energy needs of around 5,000 households. Over the next few years, it has been decided to allocate €50,000 from the proceeds of this energy production to local sustainable development projects in the Hemmen area, for the benefit of people living in poverty in the municipality of Overbetuwe, of which Hemmen is part.


Less energy-intensive malt

Boortmalt, a world leader in malt production, is committed to reducing energy consumption in its plants 50% by 2030. Its headquarters in Antwerp led by example in 2020, equipping its parking area with 2,000 solar panels. The yearly production is almost 900 MWh, along with 50 vehicle charging stations. Omexom and its partner Menapy completed this project in just two months. Surplus energy is either used in the factory or injected into the national power grid. By optimising an already occupied space in this way, the project not only produces renewable energy, but also provides shade and comfort for Boortmalt’s employees and visitors.