Netherlands pre-selects PV projects totaling 2.64 GW in first round of 2017 SDE+ program

Once leading market for residential and commercial PV, the Netherlands is now set to host an increasing number of large-scale PV plants thanks to the SDE+ program.

The Netherlands will likely remain one of Europe’s most dynamic markets also in 2017. The Dutch Ministry of Economy has announced it has pre-selected PV projects with a combined capacity of 2,647 MW in the first phase of the 2017 SDE+ (Stimulering Duurzame Energieproductie) program for large-scale solar and renewable energy power projects. Solar accounts for 69.4% of the total preassigned capacity.

Overall, the government-run agency Rijkdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO), which is managing the SDE+ program, has accepted 4,673 renewable energy project proposals with a combined capacity of 3,813 MW. Of these projects, 4,478 were for PV projects exceeding 15 kW in size. Wind and biomass projects totaled 644 MW and 285 MW respectively, while the remaining capacity was for other renewable energy technologies.

The Dutch government allocated approximately €12 billion for the program in 2017. Although the first SDE 2017 round 1 (the so-called “spring round”) had a budget of €6 billion, the Ministry of Economy said that the incentive budget for all submitted bids has reached €7.13 million. The second round (the “autumn round”) planned for this year is expected to get the same amount of €6 billion.

The first round of the 2017 SDE program had three separate windows for submitting project proposals, which were opened on March 7, 13 and 20, and had a maximum tariff for solar of €0.090/kWh, €0.110/kWh and €0.125/kWh, respectively.

The SDE+ compensates for the difference between the cost price of renewable energy and the market value of the energy supplied. Only PV projects with a power greater than 15 kW and a large-scale energy connection are eligible for SDE+ subsidies. Developers of PV projects exceeding 500 kW must also submit a feasibility study. Subsidies are allocated for periods of 8, 12 or 15 years depending on the maximum number of full load hours for each technology. The “autumn round” for 2017 is expected to open between September and October.

In a letter sent to Parliament, in which details of the first round of the program were provided, the Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp stressed that it is not possible at the moment to establish the amount of projects that ultimately will have access to the subsidies. Project developers have a three-year deadline contract for successful SDE+ arrays. Successful projects under the SDE+ round are expected to be announced this summer. The minister has also highlighted the predominance of solar in the round. “I am glad to see that the amount of solar project is increasing,” Kamp said.

So far, at least 430 MW of PV capacity was installed under the SDE+ scheme since it was launched in 2008. Prior to this round, most of the allocated PV capacity under the scheme, 961 MW, was assigned in the last “autumn round” of SDE 2016. In this round, the RVO had pre-selected PV projects totaling 2.43 GW. In last year’s spring round, some 1.12 GW of solar projects had applied for SDE+ funding. Excluding the first round for 2017, approximately 2,313 MW of PV capacity was allocated under the nine-year rounds of the SDE scheme.

According to figures provided to pv magazine by Peter Segaar, owner of solar website www.polderpv.nl and analyst of Dutch solar market trends, operational ground-mounted PV installations exceeding 50 kW reached just 58 MW at the end of February. Most of the PV projects approved under the SDE+ program, however, have recently been completed. According to Segaar, the large 2016 budget allocations for the SDE+ program are partly realized, and another 600 MW in new PV power stations could be connected to the grid this year.