March 26, 2024

Ilmatar Takes a Significant Step Forward with Sweden’s Largest Solar Park

After 1.5 years of investigations, the application for Sweden’s currently largest planned solar cell park has been completed and submitted for environmental review to the County Administrative Board in Östergötland. At Ilmatar’s 550-hectare project area in Olivehult, solar energy production is planned to coexist with sheep grazing in collaboration with the farm Wästanå Gård.

The Nordic energy company Ilmatar plans to build one of Europe’s largest solar parks in Olivehult, Motala municipality. With its 550 hectares, the facility is more than four times larger than the largest existing park in Sweden. The annual production is estimated to reach about 500 GWh, equivalent to the electricity needs of 24,000 average single-family houses– an essential addition to the main grid in electricity area SE3.

After a 1.5-year-long process involving consultation meetings, nature value inventory, bird surveys, archaeological surveys, risk assessments, climate analysis, technical investigations, and environmental impact assessments, Ilmatar’s application is now complete and submitted for environmental review to the County Administrative Board in Östergötland.

“The next step is for the County Administrative Board to come back with further questions or requests for supplementary information, a process we hope can be completed before summer. Parallel to this application, we work to get permission to connect the production facility to the power grid,” says Robert Wedmo, Permit Manager at Ilmatar in Sweden.

In Olivehult, the solar park is planned to coexist with sheep grazing in collaboration with the KRAV-certified farm Wästanå Gård, which can significantly increase the biological diversity in the area. Robert Pettersson is a fourth-generation farmer at Wästanå:

“The inventory shows these areas have low natural value since production forests are cultivated here. The area planned for the solar park is also fully surrounded by forest, and it is positive that we can add more grassland. And not least, we need more green energy, so it is good to see that the project is taking a step closer to realisation,” he says.

“Since the mid-19th century, 95 per cent of Sweden’s permanent meadows and pastures have disappeared and in many cases been planted with production forests, which have relatively low natural value. By building solar parks on areas with harvested production forests, we can produce renewable energy while recreating pastureland, which creates high biological diversity and is positive for pollinators such as butterflies and bees,” says Robert Wedmo.

Ilmatar began its operations in Sweden in early 2022. The solar park in Olivehult is a significant step forward for the company’s efforts to expand renewable energy production in Sweden. Scaling up solar installations brings several advantages. Robert Wedmo explains:

“First and foremost, the cost and land use per kilowatt-hour produced decrease when the project area becomes more extensive, and secondly, larger installations increase stability in the power grid. We need to accelerate the energy transition, and no other energy source can be scaled up as rapidly as solar energy.
The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise predicts that the electricity demand may have doubled by 2045. Ilmatar is firmly committed to expanding renewable energy production in Sweden and contributing to the goal of being completely fossil-free by 2045. Scaling up is the key to success,” says Robert Wedmo.

A preview image of Olivehult project area.