Ilmatar has now become the fourth energy company to tender an expression of interest in building a large-scale solar park on Åland. Ilmatar Solar aims to produce green solar energy while contributing to improving water quality and biodiversity in the area.
Ilmatar now joins three other companies that have already expressed interest in building a large-scale solar park in Grelsby on land owned by Åland’s Property Board. Åland’s ambitious climate strategy, large number of sunshine hours and limited snowfall in winter make the region very attractive for large-scale solar energy production.
Responsible for the project application is Ilmatar Solar, a subsidiary of Ilmatar Energy, which has offices in Malmö.
“Our team in Åland, Ilmatar Offshore, is working to realise large-scale offshore wind power in Åland’s marine areas. We would like to be pioneers of solar energy in Åland,” says Christian Gustafsson, CEO of Ilmatar Solar.
The area of interest is currently used for forestry and hunting and is close to two important water sources and water protection areas. Robert Wedmo, Project Developer at Ilmatar Solar, explains that large-scale solar farms actually have significant potential to contribute to increasing biodiversity and improving water quality.
“We need to survey the nature values of the area before we know which methods are suitable, but they could include, for example, creating wetlands to control water flows or cultivating meadows to increase the species diversity of the area,” he says.“We can help to restore the landscape while generating sustainable energy from the solar park. The life cycle of a solar power plant is 45-50 years, which gives time for the environment and biodiversity to recover.”
Åland’s Property Board has now submitted a request to the Åland Parliament to lease the land for 50 years. Ahead of the request, Åland’s Property Board has received statements from a variety of stakeholders, including the drinking water provider Ålands Vatten, Kraftnät Åland and the Åland Society for Nature and Environment. The lease request is likely to be considered during budget negotiations at the end of 2022. If the lease is given the green light, the Property Board will proceed with developing processes for allocation.