Limburg solar energy in the spotlight during Prince’s Mission to Norway


With a presentation for Princess Astrid and some 150 Belgian and Norwegian business leaders, academics and politicians, EnergyVille, UHasselt, imec, POM Limburg, and Futech/iLumen are together showing the strengths of the Limburg ecosystem around solar energy during the Belgian Economic Mission to Norway. “Renewable energy is one of the central topics within this Princely Mission. We want to show how Limburg, just like Norway, is fully committed to this energy transition and which important role is reserved for solar energy,” says Prof. Dr. Bart Vermang (EnergyVille/UHasselt/imec).

Solar power

Limburg is the only province in Belgium that has already utilized more than 10 percent of its roof potential for solar energy. 1 in 4 Limburg households has its own solar panel installation; no other Belgian province is doing better in this respect. “The sun shines brightest in Limburg,” says Annelies Gorissen, strategic sustainability expert at POM Limburg, laughing. “But the numbers really do show it. Add to that the many and diverse research efforts around solar cells being conducted within EnergyVille (KU Leuven, VITO, imec, UHasselt) and the whole ecosystem of spin-offs and companies all working around solar energy that have already established themselves at Genk’s Thor Park, and you can see that solar energy is alive and well in Limburg.”

Photo: solar films from UHasselt & imec spin-off EnFoil

New types of solar cells

And that is the message Bart Vermang, of the Institute for Materials Research imo-imomec together with EnergyVille, imec, POM Limburg and Futech/iLumen also want to bring during the Prince’s Mission to Norway from June 16 to 19. In the prestigious Opera House in Oslo, the partners will jointly present the strength of the Limburg ecosystem around solar energy on Tuesday, June 18. “The biggest innovations around solar energy, the energy source we need to bet on to make the transition to renewable energy a success, are happening in this ecosystem,” he said. “With Soltech and the spin-off EnFoil, Thor Park already has leading companies bringing new types of solar cells to the market. On top of that, there are several other valorization projects in the pipeline, so there is still a lot of strong innovation to come,” said Bart Vermang.


During the presentation, the partners also want to draw specific attention to the future of floating solar panel parks (floating pv) and agri-pv. “Two emerging markets with a great future, which EnergyVille is already betting on,” they said. In floating pv, solar panels are installed on a floating platform or structure in a lake or sea. These structures are also very complementary to offshore wind farms as a green energy source and form a kind of reef that benefits the biodiversity of aquatic life. In agri-pv, in turn, we place solar energy over farmland in such a way that cultivation is still possible. A win-win for the farmer, who can get power from the fields in addition to the crops, and where the solar panels also protect the crops during heavy hailstorms or frost damage,” says Bart Vermang.

Photo: signing of MoU UHasselt – NTNU (photo © Ingar Sørensen)

Student Exchange

As a matter of fact, Limburg also shares its focus on solar energy with Norway, the host country for this Belgian Economic Mission chaired by Princess Astrid. “We are therefore pleased that we can present our Limburg ecosystem here and that we can exchange our complementary knowledge with Norwegian academic and industrial partners. Here we can start new collaborations that will further increase our production around solar energy, we are sure of that,” says Bart Vermang.

Hasselt University also signed a so-called Memorandum of Understanding with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim during the Princely Mission, in order to enter into even more joint research and educational collaborations in the future. “This fits nicely within the framework of our new English-taught Master’s in Energy that we are starting within our Faculty of Industrial Engineering (UHasselt/KU Leuven) next year. NTNU has a lot of knowledge in the field of renewable energy and thus offers great opportunities for our students to exchange and share expertise,” concludes Bart Vermang.

Bart Vermang

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