Dutch solar power to increase by 1GW this year - analysts

10 April 2015 06:00 Source:ICIS

The amount of solar generation capacity in the Netherlands could increase by over 1GW this year and reach 16GW by 2030, according to market analysts.

This ambitious 2030 prediction is 2GW greater than the latest estimates by system operator TenneT (see EDEM 23 February 2015).

Around 1.9GW of solar capacity is installed in the country. But no legal obligation exists to register solar projects that are not connected to the grid, which makes predicting the total amount of capacity installed difficult.

“That’s the main reason why our estimates are so shaky,” said Peter Segaar market researcher at Dutch solar company Polder PV.

2015

Segaar estimates an increase of around 1.1GW of capacity in the next year.

This is partly due to the SDE+ subsidy scheme, a feed-in tariff for projects over 15kW, which led to 132MW of solar projects granted subsidies in 2013 and 392MW in 2014. These projects have three years to be built, but a large majority of these will be complete this year, according to Segaar.

But Wim Sinke, from solar technology company ECN Solar Energy, believes a slightly less ambitious estimate of around 800MW will be installed this year.

“It would help if the government would adopt a quantitative target like we have for onshore and offshore wind,” said Sinke, “that would show the market it’s not going away and should be taken seriously.”

Targets

As part of the country’s energy agreement, the Netherlands targets installing 6GW of onshore wind by 2020 and 4.5GW of offshore by 2023, in order to help the country meet its EU-driven renewable energy targets.

Sinke said that as it stands, 16GW of solar PV by 2030 is an ambitious target for the Netherlands. Part of his reasoning was that public opinion has not yet been considered. Even though no strong public opposition has been seen yet, “it is unthinkable that solar will be big if the people don’t like it,” he said.

In 2013, around 70% of the solar capacity installed in the country was residential, according to government statistics.

But, if solar PV was pushed by the government, and given a target like wind generation, then current predictions underestimate the potential, Sinke added. Around 6GW of capacity is needed by 2020 to meet 5% of the country’s power demand, according to an indicative target set out in the energy agreement.

Legislation

Current legislation surrounding subsidies for solar capacity will remain in place until 2017. Another uncertain factor in the future of solar power in the Netherlands surrounds the net metering scheme, a subsidy scheme for residential projects, which is set to be overhauled in 2017. “It could destroy the market’s growth if bad decisions are made about the net metering scheme,” said Sinke. Abigail Beall

By Abigail Beall