ZonB: Solar Fields in Noord-Brabant (2014)

ZonB: Solar Fields in Noord-Brabant (2014)

In July 2014, the NRGlab finalized and presented the ZonB research project to the Province of Noord-Brabant. The Province had asked us to develop a spatial framework to inform the development of large PV parks (or solar field). In this project, the spatial integration of solar fields was tested and discussed for four different landscape types in Noord-Brabant. The research was structured along three principal questions: WHAT? WHERE? and HOW? A synthesis of the project report can be found below.

WHAT? Object of study
To study and compare the effects of solar fields in different landscape types, a standard solar field was determined. To retrieve the most energy possible from a panel, a number of different technical prerequisites apply. Important factors are: shadows, angle of the panels and orientation to the sun, the length of cables, ventilation and maintenance. Based on the study of current PV park developments in our neighbouring countries and expected future technical developments, a standard solar field the size of 10 ha was chosen.

WHERE? Site selection
In consultation with the province, four different landscape types were chosen: (1) Groene Woud, (2) Peel, (3) area between two infrastructural networks A16\HSL, and (4) Moerdijk business park (see figure 1). The variables were technical vs. rural landscape and large-scale vs. small-scale landscape. The locations where found by means of Energy Potential Mapping (Dobbelsteen et al. 2011). Factors taken into accout were the current land use, landscape characteristics and visibility of solar fields. Woodlands, ecological main structure (EHS), estates and built-up areas were excluded as potential locations for the siting of solar fields.

Figure 1: Map of the province of Noord-Brabant with major infrastructure and selected landscape types ZonB.

HOW? Design intervention
There are (at least) four different design attitudes that influence the design of energy-conscious interventions in the landscape. They are: Exorcism, Adaptation, Assimilation and Embracing (Smits, 2002). Each site design was approached with a particular attitude, the one most fitting to the nature of the location. Furthermore ‘research through designing’ was used to study the effects of the standard solar field in the four different landscape types. In this part of the research, eight aspects have played a leading role. These are the form of plot, plot size, plot orientation, physical distance, security, visual distance, the transition to the surrounding and the color of the panels. In each of the four different landscape types, these aspects gave rise to a set of landscape-type specific design principles. These design principles, along with technical prerequistes and legal considerations have the capacity to inform the siting and design of solar fields in the landscapes of Noord-Brabant. In order to facilitate the development of respective policies and legislation, a set of design sketches and visualizations was prepared. The latter juxtapositioning a ‘merely’ standard-technical insertion of solar fields with a designed and landscape-sensitive version (see figure 2).

Figure 2: The infrastructural site between A16 and HSL. From left to right: current situation, standard-technical insertion and designed, landscape-sensitive solar field.

The full report will be available soon on this website.