This autumn, energy company EnergyVision will install 66,200 ultra-large solar panels on the grounds of Ostend-Bruges Airport.

At 303,864m², the new facility will make the airport the second largest solar park in Belgium.

The energy generated will initially be used to supply electricity to the airport site, enabling it to operate on 100% green power. However, with an annual electricity production of almost 37,000MWh, the airport will generate much more electricity than it can consume itself. A proportion of the electricity generated will therefore be diverted to Antwerp Airport (Deurne), with the remainder going directly to local residents.

“Besides greening our own power consumption, the remaining energy we get from the solar panels will be able to be used by almost 10,000 families in the area. For us, it is important that our neighbours can also benefit from this,” said Eric Dumas, CEO of Ostend-Bruges Airport.

The final touches are currently being made to the application for an environmental permit to install, in a first phase, over 40MWp of solar panels on and around the airport. Construction is expected to start in September. A later phases will see the addition of energy storage capabilities.

There will be large solar fields to the left and right of the runways, but the green character of the airport will also be visible and tangible on the way to the plane, the operator said. There will also be kinetic tiles, which will capture the energy generated as travellers walk on them en route to aircraft.

EnergyVision solar park

Phase 1 will see more than 40MWp of solar panels installed on and around the airport

Citizen participation

The project will not only enable local residents to buy green electricity, but will allow them to earn money through co-investment.

“Soon, Ostend citizens – families but also SMEs – will be able to register and buy the generated electricity on a priority basis, at fixed prices, without any price increase, and for the long term. We are also setting up a platform for citizen participation: anyone who wants to can co-invest in the installation in the form of an eight-year loan with a fixed annual interest rate of 5%,” said Maarten Michielssens, CEO of EnergyVision.

Image: EnergyVision