August 2018 was a special month for the World of Walas in The Netherlands. The CarbonBlue Solar Park was officially opened. This project is a great example of putting the values of the Earth Charter in action in the private sector. Reading this article, you will recognize the Earth Charter’s principles on ecological protection, the eradication of poverty and equitable economic development.
World of Walas, an international company concerned with sustainable urban development, is driven by values and principles of the Earth Charter. CEO Gerben van Straaten has been a friend and supporter of the Earth Charter since its launch in 2000, and is author of the Earth Charter Cities Manifesto.
The Walas team was concerned about the electrical energy use of the Carbon6 complex, one of the Walas projects in the city of Heerlen, The Netherlands. Leveraging the spacious parking lot, the CarbonBlue Urban Solar Project was created to offer a solution to further reduce the energy costs and reliance on the energy grid, and to transition to cleaner energy sources.
Parking is required for the local community and to meet the demands of commuters using the nearby train station. While the parking spaces could not be eliminated, mounting solar panels on an elevated structure not only solves the problem of the panel placement, but also provides filtered light during the day, captures rain water, cleans the surrounding air and water, creates jobs (such as jobs for people with employment challenges or personal or professional barriers) and provides a green retreat for the community.
The CarbonBlue solar park will feed the solar energy (with an estimated production of 900,000 kWh each year) into the building as well as charging stations for electric vehicles, meeting an expected 35% of the energy demand of the Carbon6 complex.
The total investment of € 2.7 million has an expected payback period of 6 years and new business models include a car wash and energy storage will add to the final success. The project is the result of a close collaboration of partners from The Netherlands, Germany, Nigeria, Austria, and Canada.