Green energy from brownfields: Construction of photovoltaics on unused areas

Green energy from brownfields: Construction of photovoltaics on unused areas



The installation of photovoltaic (PV) plants on vacant land and brownfields is a great opportunity to use abandoned or other unused land for solar energy production. Solar parks are one of the least intrusive of all the options to reclaim a former landfill site, both aesthetically, acoustically and in terms of dust during and after construction. Among other things, PV contributes to the reduction of local emissions and generates clean energy from the sun.


Installation of PV on brownfields 

Solar panels are the least intrusive on nature compared to other energy sources, such as wind or coal-fired power plants. As time goes on, more and more photovoltaic panels are being installed around us, and society is becoming accustomed to their presence and increasingly aware of their value to the world. The use of renewable energy sources will need to be expanded throughout the EU in the coming years. An opportunity for PV is the use of brownfield sites, i.e., land that was previously used for industrial or commercial purposes and is currently abandoned, unused, otherwise degraded, or potentially contaminated. Clean-up and reuse of brownfield sites of brownfield sites is an important step towards the efficient and sustainable use of abandoned industrial sites.

Installing PV on brownfield sites promotes the circular economy and reduces the need to use greenfield sites for energy purposes. This approach demonstrates how innovative energy solutions can have positive impacts on both the environment and the economy and is becoming a model for sustainable development within the energy sector.

Greenbuddies postavili pozemní FVE na brownfieldu v bývalém lomu ve Francii
Greenbuddies postavili pozemní FVE na brownfieldu na bývalém nádraží v německém Frankfurtu
Greenbuddies postavili poezmní FVE na brownfieldu v okrajové části průmyslového areálu libereckého Denso


The use of brownfield sites for PV offers the following benefits:

  • Regeneration of unused land: the installation of a PV plant enables the efficient use of land that may otherwise be difficult to use.
  • Environmental impact: PV power generation is clean and renewable, which contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and thus supports sustainable development goals.
  • Economic benefits: PV on brownfield sites brings economic benefits to both landowners and local communities through job creation and increased land value.
  • Government and governing body support: We may see financial incentives or other benefits for brownfield renewable energy projects.
  • Reducing the need for remediation: in some cases, however, the installation of PV can be done with little or no remediation, which reduces costs and speeds up the use of the land.
Greenbuddies postavili pozemní FVE na sanované skládce v rakouském Rosentalu
Greenbuddies postavili pozemní FVE na sanované skládce v holandském Farmsumu
Greenbuddies postavili pozemní FVE na sanované skládce v nizozemském Lochemu
Greenbuddies postavili pozemní FVE na sanované skládce v nizozemském Bovenveldu


Technical challenges of installation and substrate types of PV on brownfields

Installing PV on brownfield sites can be a technical challenge, where the construction and cost can be complicated by specific brownfield conditions such as uneven terrain, unsuitable subsoil, or remnants from legacy buildings. Also, sometimes land cannot be cleared and revegetated prior to the actual PV construction. Additional assessments, such as environmental or technical, etc., are usually required for the construction of PV on brownfield sites. Despite all these possible impacts, the use of brownfields for PV construction represents an opportunity with great potential, and these buildings are beneficial and interesting for their surroundings.

PV plants can be built on the following substrates, which by their nature meet the definition of a brownfield. Our installation teams have the most experience working on former remediated landfill sites. For example, we have installed the Farmsum (11.7 MWp), Bovenveld (6.3 MWp), and Lochem (8.9 MWp) projects in the Netherlands on landfill sites. 

We have also built PV parks on other types of brownfield sites. For example, the Ploquin solar project in France, with an installed capacity of 5 MWp, was built on a former quarry. We built a 3.2 MWp solar plant on the site of a former freight station. And recently, a new PV plant was also built in an unused part of the Denso industrial site in Liberec, which we implemented in cooperation with our long-term partner and project investor, CEZ ESCO.

Examples of references Greenbuddies projects built on brownfield sites, which we have already successfully installed, can be found in the photos.



Every month in the Newsletter we bring you tips and interesting facts about photovoltaics and charging infrastructure in general. You will find out news about our projects, collaborations, as well as the internal life of Greenbuddies.

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