Citizens co-invest in solar power plant of the City of Ghent

The City of Ghent won the Procura+ award with an innovative solar panel project.

Each year, Procura+, a network of European local authorities, award innovative sustainable purchasing strategies. On October 12th 2022, the City of Ghent, together with Vlaams Energiebedrijf – VEB (the Flemish Energy Company), won the award for their innovative solar panel project.

What is this project about? 

By 2024, the City of Ghent wants to increase the share of locally produced solar power in the electricity mix in their own buildings to 30%. To achieve this ambitious goal the City of Ghent and VEB set up a partnership for tendering and concluding a virtual power purchase agreement (PPA) between the City of Ghent and a citizen energy cooperative.

A virtual PPA is a multi-year bilateral electricity contract that does not involve the physical delivery of electricity. The City of Ghent chose for a virtual PPA because it is convenient (no need to change retailer), low-risk (the city is hedged against the volatility in electricity prices) and facilitates the energy transition (the long-term 15-year contract provides certainty to the supplier and his investment).

  • Citizens were eager to invest

    The tender required that at least half of the solar project is owned by citizens. Beauvent CV, a renewable energy cooperative, won the bid. Their call to citizens to invest 700 000 euros was completed in a day and a half!

    Where are we now?

    Beauvent has recently installed the 15.000 solar panels on the rooftops of the Lemahieu Group warehouses which will produce 7.000 MWh annually. Through this project, the original target of 30% will be met easily!

Inspiration for other cities and companies? 

In Flanders, the City of Ghent was the first public entity to conclude a virtual PPA. Several cities have informed for this type of PPA as the need for renewable energy is large and the potential of unused roofs is vast. We are confident that follow-up projects in other cities will arise in the short term! Furthermore, interest of companies for this type of power contracts is rising as well.