Better Energy pioneers new EcoPark concept
4 April 2018
Since 2015, Better Energy has been developing its Better Energy EcoPark concept. In 2016, livestock started grazing on solar parks in Denmark and Germany which doubled the land use. Now they are taking it to a whole new level with an entire ecosystem model, maximising the benefits of solar power, organic farming, social engagement, and biodiversity.
Better Energy EcoPark is a new way to power communities. It is an entire ecosystem business model providing solar energy, jobs, organic food, groundwater protection, new revenue options, and increased biodiversity – all on the same piece of land.
“We take a piece of land and literally give it new life and purpose, maximising benefits for the environment, the economy, schools, farmers, landowners, and municipalities. The concept is called Better Energy EcoPark because it represents an entire ecosystem, a community of plants, animals, and people interacting with each other and their environment. Our EcoPark offers a smart form of farming, profitable land management, and a more integrated vision of green energy production,” explains Michael Vater, chief business development officer from Better Energy.
Better Energy EcoPark helps farmers stay in business, landowners profit from their land, municipalities gain substantial cost-savings on energy and maximise their use of land.
Danish farmer Jens Hansen is passionate about the Better Energy EcoPark concept and the values behind it, and ready for a revolution. Jens is working together with Better Energy to implement a full-scale solar park ecosystem. He plans to raise free-range organic livestock such as rabbits and ducks on a solar park and feed them with organic crops. Rabbit is now considered a “super meat” and a new global trend. The organic meat will be sold to match the rising market demand, and the organic crops will alleviate the growing national concern over groundwater quality.
“This solves so many problems at once. Many farmers are caught in a vicious cycle, expanding their farms to service their debt. Just building a new stall next door costs DKK 34 million. Expenses of all kinds are rising, regulations are increasing, and resources are disappearing,” says Jens Hansen. “Change is no longer a choice. It’s a must. This is a completely different way of thinking and it makes so much sense.”
In cooperation with the local municipality, Jens is exploring ways to use unemployed workers from a back-to-work programme to help with the animals, and he also hopes that schools will incorporate a visit the park as a part of their curricula.
Better Energy engineers, finances, constructs, and manages the solar park and sale of electricity under a 30-year service agreement so that Jens can concentrate on what he does best and reap financial benefits with low initial cost.
Every solar park has the potential to become a unique ecosystem that can benefit the environment and the surrounding community.
How does it work?
The goal is to use the same land area for multiple purposes and productions. It starts in the development phase of a solar park. A Better Energy EcoPark adapts to what is unique about a particular site, geographic region, and social community. This makes it highly adaptable and attractive to foreign markets.
A Better Energy EcoPark is specially designed and engineered with dual-land use in mind, for example, a solar park can be combined with raising livestock and growing crops, conventional and organic, food or non-food. Crops that do not use pesticides positively affect biodiversity and endangered wildlife such as bees.
Solar parks can also serve as protected spaces for vegetation and long-term havens for wildlife. The shade under the rows of modules protects plants and animals from weather conditions, and the ground stays relatively undisturbed for decades. The parks are large enough to be divided up and used for several purposes.
Making the most of your land
Solar park installations typically use less than 5% of the land. That leaves 95% of the land available for other activities such as crop production, livestock grazing and biodiversity enhancement. Each solar park is an opportunity to add value to the land.
A Better Energy EcoPark with multi-purpose use of land turns a one-time investment into a steady stream of income for over 25 years. Landowners can diversify their land use, increasing revenues and overall land value. Previously unused land can suddenly be double farmed and provide long-term, predictable income.