Energy garden of the future combines sustainable energy generation, nature and landscape

October 10, 2019

Energy generation can be of value for landscape and environment. That is what the Dutch Nature and Environment Federations (NMF) and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) want to show with the project of Energy gardens in the Netherlands. In the Energy garden, large-scale sustainable energy production coincides with nature, landscape, recreation and education.

This is a new approach, with a high level of professionalism and a lot of control by the local community, one to make progress with and enter the energy landscape of the future.
Annie van de Pas, network director at NMF

Large-scale sustainable energy production is necessary to counteract climate change. “This does not necessarily have to be at the expense of landscape and nature”, says Annie van de Pas, network director NMF. “We are demonstrating that we could also be reinforcing one another, when we take a different view on the combined challenge for a sustainable and pleasant living environment. Energy gardens will not only serve to generate large-scale energy, but can also support biodiversity and show a befitting design. This is a new approach, with a high level of professionalism and a lot of control by the local community, one to make progress with and enter the energy landscape of the future.”

Energy Gardens all over the Netherlands

Energy gardens will be designed and realised together with people from the specific neighbourhood, municipality, owners and other involved parties. The physical Energy gardens may eventually consist of solar panels, (small scale) wind - and water power, energy storage and biomass production. This can be combined with for example cycle paths, walking paths, a food forest, vegetable gardens, a pick-nick field and lookout point, but also with planting new vegetation, hedgerows, flowery meadows, bee hotels and wildlife passages. The project should strengthen the commitment among citizens and enhance the professionalism of local energy-initiatives. The first Energy gardens are planned in Assen, Montfoort and Wijhe. This concerns large locations, differing in size from 20 to 80 football fields. It is intended, that Energy gardens will take root all throughout the Netherlands. The project has been made possible thanks to an extra grant of the National Postcode Lottery.

Research by Design

Which elements an Energy garden will include, is not exactly foreseeable. Sven Stremke, Associate Profesor Landscape Architecture at Wageningen University, is together with his team responsible for this process, that is also known as  ‘research through designing’. Stremke: “This is an intense pathway which might involve a hundred options at the start. By paying attention to each perspective, by learning from best practices and staying in line with law and regulations, eventually a final design will evolve that is specifically geared to each one of the three locations.” The project Energy gardens is part of a larger research programme of WUR into solar energy: the Solar Research Programme. This programme is looking for new concepts for solar parks, in which spatial quality is taken into account together with biodiversity, soil quality, governance, agricultural production and technological innovation.