Renewable energy is the key to the future. Those who have come to realize the truth of this include the Courage innovation foundation, InnovationNetwork (which was set up at the initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality), Alliander, Trinergie, and the province of Gelderland. The name “Photon Farmer” was chosen because livestock farmers harvest “particles of light” (photons). In addition to fuelling the growth of crops, the energy of photons can also be used to generate electrons. So now, in addition to potato farmers and livestock farmers, you have “photon farmers”. Using solar panels, we can harvest light particles profitably by storing their energy in a redox-flow battery. This energy can then be delivered to the national power grid at a time when the price is right. Also, in the future, motorists might call in at farms to recharge their electric vehicles.

Goals of the Photon Farmer project:

  • Energy neutral dairy chain

  • Independent of energy suppliers

  • Make best use of farm-based energy production

  • Use new long-life batteries

  • Motorists to “fill-up” at farms by 2025!


“This is a first step towards a breakthrough in the use of solar energy on dairy farms”
says Carel de Vries, Project Manager at Courage.

The “Photon Farmer” model shows how dairy farming can achieve a new position in the energy market. The project also shows that the Dutch dairy industry is open to experimentation, to new technologies, and to taking responsibility for a sustainable society.