Generating energy from more than a thousand solar panels, temporarily storing the electricity in a giant battery and selling it when prices are most favourable: arable farmer Jan Reinier de Jong in Odoorn is the first farmer in the Netherlands with a battery like this on his premises.

Prices on the electricity market are subject to continual fluctuation. Thanks to his lithium-ion battery, De Jong can sell electricity whenever he wants. He developed a system in collaboration with Jules Energy that allows him to sell the electricity he generates at precisely the right moment: when the price is high. However, as soon as the price of electricity drops, or on the occasions that he is actually paid to remove his electricity from the grid, De Jong does exactly the opposite: he buys electricity. This way, both scenarios are equally profitable. Fortunately, there’s no need for him to constantly keep an eye on the prices: his software takes care of this automatically.

The entrepreneur expects to have paid back his investment in ten years’ time. He will also be able to do this by using the solar energy he generates for the storage of potatoes. De Jong predicts that batteries like his will be in use all over the Netherlands within ten years.

Energy storage is the key for our future

LTO Nederland Chairman Albert Jan Maat officially opened the energy storage unit together with Harold Hoffenk (Rabobank, Borger-Klenckeland branch) and Ttisse Stelpstra (member of the Provincial Executive of the Province of Drenthe). They believe that farmers like Jan Reinier de Jong will be playing a significant role in the transition to clean energy. Just like De Jong, they are of the opinion that energy storage on farms is the key for our future. ‘The agricultural industry yields around 45% of all renewable energy in our country. The past few years have seen numerous farms and greenhouse growers involved in 70% of all applications for the SDE+ budget, a grant for the stimulation of sustainable energy. Dairy farms in the Netherlands are already operating on a 68% energy neutral basis. Additionally, 71% of all windmills in this country are built on farmlands or in hands of agricultural entrepreneurs.’

Dutch farmers and greenhouse growers are frontrunners in the field of food quality and safety. The efficient use of energy, the generation of renewable energy and energy savings are priority issues in this sector. Maat anticipates outstanding performance by the agricultural industry with regard to energy, climate and sustainability in the next decade to come. After all, the sector already has access to everything it needs: solar panels, biomass, windmills and geothermal heat. ‘There are numerous alternatives that can easily replace fossil fuels, like wind, solar, soil and biomass. Opportunities abound in this area.’

Source: LTO Noord/Drenthe in Transitie. Photo: Jan Reinier de Jong/CleanEnergy.