Translation of an article in the Flemish newspaper HLN- Van Zele fully operates with its own energy
First company to be independent of the public power grid
The new construction of the Van Zele bvba company is 100% self-sufficient when it comes to electricity. It makes the company a pioneer. For manager Marc Van Zele it’s a dream come true.
© image by Geert De Rycke - Manager Marc Van Zele (left) with Tim De Schryver of You Power on the company’s roof.
“Solar panels directly provide the warehouse with electricity without intervention of any grid. Moreover, the warehouse has no connection at all with Eandis, the Flemish electricity and natural gas provider (now called Fluvius),” says Tim De Schryver of You Power, a company in Zele that specializes in electricity systems that are independent of the public power grid. “Consequently, Van Zele bvba doesn’t need any electricity meters and its energy supply is free for life.”
This makes Marc Van Zele, with his company located on the new industrial site called Wijnveld, a pioneer, “We know that there’s a similar project now being realized in Lokeren, but they do have a connection to the public power grid by Eandis. We don’t,” De Schyver confirms. No connections to the external grid implies an extra risk, because what if there is no more stored electricity? Until now, no one dared to take the risk. “I really had to try it,” company manger Marc Van Zele (55) says. “Since a very young age, I was into electricity, it always interested me. It became my hobby: experimenting and trying new things, but due to lack of time, I was never able to really do something with it. We already had a first establishment on the other industrial site in Zele. With the new construction on Wijnveld I wanted to give it a try.”
The solar panels on the company’s roof supply energy. “The energy that is not being used immediately, is stored in the battery of a forklift truck. Our company rents out forklifts and elevated platforms. Very soon, we want to use that energy to start charging our forklifts and elevated platforms. Within seven to eight years the investment will be fully recouped, and after that, our electricity supply will be free for life.”
Marc decided to take it even further. His enormous warehouse has underfloor heating. “It is connected to a heat pump so the heating will also be for free. And what if there is a shortage of energy? In that case we have a generator in the basement. It was intentionally put there so the heat from the generator isn’t lost. It’s used to heat the floor.”
Both Marc Van Zele and the YouPower company are pioneers. “Until now, no one dared to do this, but now that Marc has done it, we are convinced that others will follow,’ De Schryver says. At Van Zele bvba the ‘green projects’ don’t stop here. Behind the scenes, I’m working on another project to be self-sufficient. But for now, I’ll keep that to myself.”