Belgium is a small country with a big appetite for renewable energy. With a population of just over 11 million people, the country has set ambitious goals to transition to renewable sources of energy and reduce its carbon footprint. One way it is doing this is through the use of solar panels, which are increasingly being installed on the ground in large-scale projects.
There are several advantages to installing solar panels on the ground rather than on rooftops. One of the main benefits is that ground-mounted solar panels can be more easily aligned with the sun's path, which maximizes their efficiency. Additionally, ground-mounted solar panels can be easily accessed for maintenance, which helps to ensure that they are operating at their maximum capacity.
The availability of ground surface for solar panel installation in Belgium is fairly good, with plenty of open spaces that can be used for large-scale solar projects. According to data from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association, Belgium had a total installed solar capacity of 3.5 GW in 2020, with around 1.5 GW of that coming from ground-mounted solar panels. This is enough to power approximately 750,000 homes, which is equivalent to around 6.8% of the country's total electricity consumption.
Large-scale ground-mounted solar projects in Belgium, such as the Solar Park Genk and the Solar Park Liege, have been successful in generating significant amounts of renewable energy. These projects have a total installed capacity of 49 MW and 70 MW respectively, and are able to power around 20,000 and 30,000 homes respectively. Similar successful projects can also be found abroad, such as the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in California and the PV Yunnan Solar Farm in China.
One of the key benefits of large-scale ground-mounted solar projects is their scalability, as they can be designed to accommodate a range of capacities. This allows for flexibility in meeting the energy needs of different industries and businesses, from small and medium-sized enterprises to large corporations. Additionally, ground-mounted solar projects are suitable for utility-scale applications, providing a steady source of electricity to the grid and reducing dependence on fossil fuels. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) estimates that utility-scale solar projects have the potential to generate between 2,500 and 3,500 GW of electricity by 2030, equivalent to about 10% of the world's current electricity demand. With decreasing costs of solar panels and increasing demand for clean energy, utility-scale solar projects are becoming increasingly economically viable.