Netherlands urgently needs qualified workforce for solar and renewables

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The Netherlands’ Social and Economic Council (Sociaal-Economische Raad – SER) has warned the Dutch government that the country has a very urgent need for a qualified workforce for the implementation of its energy transition.

The SER said in its statement that further investments will have to be made quickly in training new employees and attracting qualified people to the renewable energy sector.

“The energy transition is offering opportunities for more work, innovation and a more sustainable climate,” said SER’s chairman, Mariëtte Hamer. “This requires investment in people, in technology and training. Bottlenecks on the labor market need to be resolved urgently. A lot has to be done, and luckily there is also a lot going on,” she added.

A qualified workforce is crucial, the SER said, for the construction and maintenance of new power plants. “We have to tackle bottlenecks in this labor market in time,” the SER stressed.

The lack of a qualified workforce for the solar and renewable energy sector is a well-known issue in the Dutch energy market, which is in desperate need of more installed capacity, as the country is likely to miss its 14% renewable energy target, set for 2020.

According to Peter Segaar, owner of solar website www.polderpv.nl and analyst of Dutch solar market trends, the lack of well-trained installers is hindering the efficient deployment of the large volumes of solar capacity assigned under the SDE+ program for large-scale renewable energy projects.

“Since the SDE subsidy scheme has given wings to development of big solar in Netherlands, early signals have already been given that finding qualified personnel for planning and installation of many, and ever larger, demanding solar installations would become a problem. The Social and Economical Council (SER) has now acknowledged those concerns,” Segaar told pv magazine.

“Several of the most recent sizable big ground-mounted, as well as many big rooftop solar installations have been constructed by personnel from abroad, mainly from Germany,” he added.

Overall, around 4 GW of solar power have been assigned in all rounds of the SDE+ program. According to the Dutch portal, Solarmagazine, however, the current amount of grid-connected PV capacity under the scheme is only slightly above 700 MW.