One of Belgium’s largest companies powered by solar park developed through PerPetum Energy/Alfen collaboration

  • Smart Grids
  • PerPetum Energy
  • 2023

Decarbonisation efforts in Belgium – and across Europe – require delivering renewable energy to not only public power grids, but directly to private businesses that consume significant amounts of electricity as well. PerPetum Energy, a developer of among the country’s most prominent solar parks, joined forces with Alfen to build the new Sodever solar facility, which provides 12MW of carbon-free electricity to the UCB biopharmaceutical company’s headquarters sites. 

Challenge 

Nearly 20 kilometers south of downtown Brussels sits the municipality of Braine l'Alleud in Wallonia. Along with its approximately 30,000 residents, the community is home to Belgium’s third largest private business, UCB pharmaceuticals. UCB’s footprint in the area includes several research & development, manufacturing and headquarters locations occupied by thousands of employees. The company’s broad range of operations collectively require substantial power to support its ongoing activities. So much so that it partnered with local government officials to create a strategy of delivering electricity to its facilities directly from a dedicated local power generation facility. 

Solution 

Addressing UCB’s energy needs while supporting Belgium’s decarbonisation commitments necessitated a creative approach to balance both priorities. It meant finding a suitable location to accommodate a sprawling solar power complex, and the technologies to divert the electricity generated directly to UCB’s working sites. Once the decision was made to build the Sodever solar park in Braine l'Alleud, PerPetum Energy and Alfen stepped in to make it a reality. 

“In most cases, the solar parks we develop are connected to the public grid located in the site of big industrial consumers, but with Sodever the project was located a few kilometers away. For this specific project, we needed the technology and expertise to provide electricity via a direct line straight to UCB’s business locations,” explained Jérôme Flament, PerPetum Energy’s Chief Commercial Officer. “That’s why Alfen’s role in this project was so important. They brought the experience of connecting their substations to varying types of grid structures across Belgium as well as the Netherlands.” 

Implementation/benefits 

PerPetum Energy was contracted with overseeing construction of the park, which covers 19 hectares of land, and features more than 18,000 solar panels with the capacity to generate 12MW of power. Alfen supplied three substations to the project, and managed the connection to UCB’s station that is, in turn, powering the company’s facilities.  

Alfen pre-fabricated the substations at its manufacturing site, and delivered/installed them in just three months. This rapid turnaround was critical to the project since any delays would have triggered Sodever losing a portion of the subsidies it receives for being available to deliver carbon-free power. 

“Having the flexibility to deliver power to both public and private grid infrastructure is critical to continuing to decarbonise our energy industry and communities,” said Alfen Sales Manager Hatim Ouald Chaib. “As grid structures across European countries like Belgium become increasingly complex, we’re focused on continuing to deliver technologies that can be applied to emerging power delivery circumstances like the Sodever project.”