Zonnepanelen 7-5

Gypsum depot transformed into fertile oasis

Looking at an aerial photo of the harbour of Ghent, a large white are is apparent just below Zelzate, on the left bank of the Ghent-Terneuzen canal. This is a gigantic gypsum depot, forty metres high and covering eighty hectares. Now, this immense mountain of gypsum is being turned into a park, with solar panels installed that will provide electricity for 4,000 families. This heavily contaminated area will soon be transformed into a fertile oasis.

Construction & Infra
Terranova Solar
Zelzate
2011 - present

Looking at an aerial photo of the harbour of Ghent, a large white are is apparent just below Zelzate, on the left bank of the Ghent-Terneuzen canal. This is a gigantic gypsum depot, forty metres high and covering eighty hectares. Now, this immense mountain of gypsum is being turned into a park, with solar panels installed that will provide electricity for 4,000 families. This heavily contaminated area will soon be transformed into a fertile oasis.

The redevelopment of the former gypsum depot is another interesting opportunity for Aertssen. Following months of clean-up activities and intensive earthmoving work, the Zelzate depot’s new lease on life is taking shape. There is no more gypsum to be found at the former Kuhlmann site; instead, a huge solar park is under construction. Partners Imasco (Aertssen), Jan De Nul, Envisan, DEC, Finiwo and the Provincial Development Organization have joined forces, going by the name Terranova Solar, and are transforming the gypsum mountain into the largest solar park in the Benelux region. A site that was once an environmental disaster zone is becoming an ecological dream location.

The solar park, on a 40-hectare area, will have a total capacity of fifteen megawatts, enough to provide power for 4,000 families. No fewer than 55,000 solar panels and 33,000 foundation screws will be used in its construction, and it will be the biggest of its kind in the Benelux region. But the project has another interesting side to it: in the future, Terranova Solar will set up a cooperative project through which residents of nearby villages can become involved in the solar park. In this way, they can benefit from compensation for the problems caused by the depot in the past.

All in all, giving the gypsum depot a new lease of life is a challenge that has required the knowledge and expertise of an entire team of partners. To date, technical tests has been carried out and approval given for the first panels to be switched on, and it is expected that the solar park will be fully operational by the end of this year.