24 November 2020

Better Energy launches solar park designed for lowlands

In Vordingborg Municipality, Better Energy is establishing a new pilot project to demonstrate how future solar parks can be built on restored wetlands. This will allow a double effect on CO2 reductions by producing green energy and restoring carbon-rich lowland areas to wetlands.

The solar park in Køng Mose in Vordingborg Municipality is a new type of solar park that is expected to supply approximately 42,000 households with new green energy. The solar park will also be built on lowlands with carbon-rich soil that will be taken out of agricultural production and restored to wetlands.

“If we are to have a reasonable chance of achieving our climate goals in Denmark, we must increase the expansion of solar energy capacity on land. We can achieve a positive double effect on CO2 reductions when we place solar parks on carbon-rich lowlands that can then be removed from agricultural production and restored as wetlands,” says Rasmus Lildholdt Kjær, CEO of Better Energy.

“The new solar park will be built on very low-lying terrain that has been artificially drained. In the future, the land will be re-wetted and restored to its original wetland state. Installations for wetlands require a whole range of new technical features, but it is important to demonstrate that this is possible. Hopefully, our experiences will pave the way for many other solar parks to be built on restored wetlands,” says Rasmus Lildholdt Kjær and explains that this project requires a completely new design and construction.

If 10,000 hectares of carbon-rich low-lying areas are restored to wetlands for solar power production, it will correspond to approximately 20% of the total electricity consumption in Denmark. This will mean significant reductions of CO2 in agriculture and a significant increase in our renewable energy supply at the same time.

Drained lowlands have a significant climate effect

According to the Danish Council on Climate Change, the removal of artificially drained lowlands from agricultural production and the restoration of these areas to wetlands constitutes one of the key focus areas in reaching the Danish climate targets. Earlier this year, the Council published a report showing that the restoration of wetlands had the second largest carbon reduction potential this decade, only surpassed by the introduction of 1.5 million electric vehicles.

This point is also echoed by the Danish government’s climate partnership report on food and agriculture. It suggests a potential CO2 reduction of 1.4 million tons by 2030 if 47,700 hectares of lowlands with carbon-rich soil were restored to wetlands. 

Regrettably, current tax laws hinder the restoration of wetlands. The Danish Agriculture & Food Council estimates that land taxes will increase ninefold if a farmer with 70 hectares chooses to remove 30 hectares of low-lying areas from agricultural production, restore wetlands and establish a solar park. In that case, the land will be taxed as commercial land and not agricultural land. If, on the other hand, the same farmer chooses to plant energy crops (biomass) for the production of electricity, then the land is taxed at a lower rate.

“The current tax system is hindering the green transition. Farmers are currently punished if they choose to re-wet lowlands and establish solar parks on the land,” explains Climate Director Niels Peter Nørring from the Danish Agriculture & Food Council.

The lowland area where the new solar park will be built has been designated by the local authorities. They also expect the solar park will improve conditions for biodiversity as various kinds of flora will be planted when the solar park has been established.

“Solar parks are important elements in the local transition to renewable energy, and the restoration of wetlands has been a major factor in the municipality’s prioritisation of this area for a solar park,” says Mayor of Vordingborg Municipality Mikael Smed. He also stresses that the local district plan was recently adopted.

The solar park in Køng Mose is expected to produce 170,000 MWh annually, equal to 70 percent of the electricity consumption in Vordingborg Municipality. The park is expected to be up and running by 2022.