When entering the main hall of Solar Solutions, an event that took place in Amsterdam this week, the visitor’s first impression is that it is no more the local fair of an emerging solar market, but an international event attracting foreign players and big business.
The Netherlands has grown to become one of Europe’s largest PV markets over the past two years, despite its smaller size compared to other European countries.
New international dimension
The new, international allure of the event was evident not only in the large number of traditional Chinese, Japanese and German PV product providers, which had set their shimmering booths across all of the fair’s corners, but also by an increasing number of local and international technology companies specializing in monitoring of PV arrays, cleaning systems, solar insurance, digital integration, manufacturing of cables, and mounting systems.
This is a clear sign that the Dutch PV sector has now reached a high level of professionalization and that a solid ecosystem of highly qualified installers and PV product distributors is being established. All signals, indeed, that the market can now be listed among Europe’s mature PV markets.
Large-scale PV business
If the Dutch market has finally reached this new dimension, it is mainly due to the current strong development of large-scale solar in the country, thanks to the SDE+ incentive scheme.
Although there are still doubts over how much of the assigned capacity will actually be installed, the growth that the program will provide over the next two years is expected to give a further boost to the Dutch PV market.
The Netherlands’ government has allocated around 4.9 GW of PV via all the bidding rounds it held between 2014 and 2017.
Net metering has been the market’s main driver since the early stages of PV development in the country. Although there are still doubts about the future of the scheme, as the government has not yet revealed if, and for eventually how long, it may be maintained, rooftop PV seems to be ready to face all of the challenges of a scenario with no direct or indirect incentives.
Awareness among power consumers and small and middle-sized enterprises must be improved, however, if sustained levels of residential and C&I businesses are to be maintained or increased.
Technology and innovation
Solar Solutions also presented a number of technological innovations coming from local universities and research institutes, as well as from international entities. In particular, new technologies for floating PV, monitoring systems and digital integration have reached new visibility among the traditional products of the solar industry.
The Dutch government has always financed innovation in the renewable energy sector, and the Netherlands’ academic institutions have a long tradition in researching new PV technologies, especially in BIPV applications and crystalline silicon PV.
All in all, Solar Solutions has become a must-attend event, not only for those players interested in the Dutch market, but also for those European and non-European PV companies seeking more connections and business opportunities in a globalized solar industry.