Netherlands’ PV market set to reach 2 GW milestone

The Netherlands’ PV market has probably set another growth record in 2016. The country, in fact, is expected to have installed around 525 MW of new PV installations last year, according to provisional figures provided to pv magazine by Peter Segaar, owner of solar website www.polderpv.nl and analyst of Dutch solar market trends.

In 2015, the country saw the addition of new PV systems with a combined capacity of 467 MW, while in 2014, 2013 and 2012 the newly installed solar power was of 302 MW, 377 MW and 220 MW, respectively.

The official statistics for last year will be likely be published by the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek- CBS) in May 2017. If the provisional numbers are confirmed, the country’s cumulative PV capacity will have reached about 2,040 MW as of the end of December 2016.

Segaar stressed that, if the residential segment does not show severe signs of collapse, and the large 2016 budget allocations for the SDE+ program are partly realized, another 600 MW in new PV power stations could be connected to the grid this year. The SDE+ program is available for the production of renewable electricity (for solar the program is open to PV projects over 15  kW), renewable gas and renewable heat or a combination of renewable heat and electricity (CHP).

Segaar explained that, although not all of the PV capacity allocated under the SDE+ program will see the light of day, the first solar parks developed under the scheme began to come online in the past months. Ground-mounted solar parks are not easy to develop in Netherlands, Segaar claims, due to inexperience of local companies, long and tiresome permission procedures and the lack of available land. The Netherlands is a densely populated country in which every square meter faces competition from a number of players, Segaar stressed.

So far, at least 430 MW of PV capacity  was installed under the SDE+ scheme since it was launched in 2008, although operational ground-mounted PV installations exceeding 50 kW currently have reached only 58 MW. The country’s largest online PV plant is a 30 MW solar park built by German developer Wirsol.

Most of the allocated PV capacity under the scheme, 961 MW, was assigned in the last “autumn round” of SDE 2016. Including this latest round, approximately 2,313 MW of PV capacity was allocated under the 9 year rounds of SDE regime.

Meanwhile, the Dutch government has allocated approximately €12 billion for the program in 2017, a new record. The first SDE 2017 round 1 (the so-called “spring round”) will have a budget of €6 billion and the second round (the “autumn round”) is expected to get the same amount, although the funds for the second round will depend on the outcome of the first round.

Despite the recent growth of the large-scale segment, most of the country’s installed PV capacity still comes in the form of small and medium-sized PV systems. All this capacity was installed through a net-metering scheme, which is still performing “reasonably” well, Segaar said, although there are plans to change the conditions as of 2020, or possibly as of 2023.

According to official statistics from the CBS, approximately 1,051 MW of the 1,515 MW of PV power connected to the grid in the country at the end of 2015 consists of residential PV capacity, 69% of total accumulated market volume. “The exact volume of non-residential net-metering solar installations, however, remains unknown,” added Segaar.