40,000 solar panels could run alongside railway lines

Summary

The Flemish energy minister has proposed installing thousands of solar panels along the railway lines in Flanders, as he seeks ways to meet the region’s climate targets

All available surfaces

Flemish energy minister Bart Tommelein has written to federal mobility minister François Bellot to propose installing solar panels along the railway lines between Leuven and Aachen – a section that could take up to 40,000 panels depending on investors. It would serve as a pilot project that could be extended to the rest of the rail network, Tommelein said.

The idea is the latest in the minister’s search for ways in which Flanders can meet its climate targets for 2020, when 13% of the region’s energy needs must be derived from renewable sources. He came into office just after a biomass plant in Ghent, which could have played a major role in meeting goals, was refused a licence. Since then he has called on homeowners to install solar panels and changed the rules on the energy-saving requirement of new buildings.

“Space in Flanders is limited, so we’re looking at all available surfaces,” he said. Those include government buildings, army barracks, schools and municipal buildings. Companies and individuals are encouraged to follow suit.”

Sustainable energy

The five main renewable energy sources in Flanders are biomass, biogas, wind energy, solar energy and water power. The renewable energy sector has grown sharply in recent years, with wind and solar energy production especially on the rise.
Agency - The Flemish Energy Agency is responsible for implementing the government’s sustainable energy policies. Its central tasks are to promote rational energy use and environmentally friendly energy production.
Green energy certificates - One of the principal measures to promote sustainable energy are the certificates the Flemish energy regulator (Vreg) awards for electricity generated by renewable energy sources. Since the regulations were tightened in 2012, investments in renewable energy installations have declined.
Obstacles - According to the Flemish Energy Agency, the main challenges in local renewable energy production are the region’s short coast, limited height differences and direct sunlight, and high population density.
11

new wind turbines created in Flanders in 2013

6 030

million kilowattage of green energy in 2012

6

percentage of green energy used in Flanders in 2012