In a letter to the Dutch Parliament, Netherlands’ Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Change, Eric Wiebes announced on Friday that, starting from 2020, he is planning to replace the current net metering scheme for residential and commercial power generators with a new support mechanism for solar and other small-sized renewable energy systems, named “terugleversubsidie.”
Wiebes said that homeowners willing to invest in solar under the new scheme will be granted a payback period of approximately seven years. At the same time, from 2020, they will be exempt from paying any energy taxes and the ODE (Opslag Duurzame Energie), a levy on power consumers, which finances the country’s renewable energy programs, for all self-consumed electricity.
A cap on how much surplus power may be injected into the grid, however, will be introduced, said Wiebes. Overall, he believes the transition from net metering to the new mechanism will be smooth.
The minister added that he is currently considering including school and office buildings in the scheme. “We are trying to understand how the regulation can properly serve these entities without it being too complicated,” the Dutch government said in its statement. Wiebes said that the Postcoderoos scheme, which is currently supporting small-sized community solar projects, may be converted into a mechanism similar to the “terugleversubsidie.”
The final proposal for the new scheme will be submitted to the Dutch Parliament by the end of the summer.
According to Peter Segaar, owner of solar website www.polderpv.nl, and analyst of Dutch solar market trends, the main issue with the new rules will be subsidy cap for each year. “The amount to be reserved for that cap is not yet known, but if it will turn out (far) too low, another run on applications is feared, resulting in another stop and go cycle in the already overheated Dutch solar market,” he told pv magazine.
Furthermore, Segaar anticipates further issues, due to the fact that, under the current rules, many solar system owners have declined to accept a non-obligatory smart meter. However, under the new scheme, only the actual feed-in of surplus solar electricity will be subsidized, while being metered. “Many problems will lie ahead since the net metering ‘allowance’ will be abolished in 2020,” he said.
The director and founder of Good!/Solar Solutions, Rolf Heyne told pv magazine that the change to net metering from a feed-in-system is widely seen by Dutch solar companies as a blessing, although there are some specifics that still need to be worked out, and some remaining questions.
“First the feasibility to start somewhere in 2020, which is largely coupled with the acceptance of the smart meter for households. Second is whether the new system also applies to small business. And last but not least, what happens when the annual budget is exceeded?”
Talks are still ongoing between the minister and the sector, he added. “In short, the new system will not slow solar PV growth one bit; but it helps the sector and government to oversee and regulate the continuation of growing solar PV, where other EU countries have had a bad experience with start-and-stop policy,” he said.
Last summer, the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Henk Kamp anticipated the extention of net metering to 2023. He had proposed a roadmap for the stimulation of residential solar in the Netherlands beyond 2020-2023 with five different scenarios for the future of net metering.
Net metering was introduced in the Netherlands under a new Electricity Law in July 2004. Since then, it has grown to become one of main drivers of the country’s solar growth, particularly between 2011 and 2015, when it was also combined with rebates.
According to official statistics released by the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (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 consisted of residential PV capacity, which represents 69% of total accumulated market volume.
According to more recent numbers released by Good!/Solar Solutions, meanwhile, the country’s cumulative PV capacity reached 2.7 GW at the end of last year. Underlining the central role net metering continues to play in the Dutch solar sector, of the 835 MW of newly installed PV in 2017, 365 MW were installed on residential pitched roofs, while another 50 MW was deployed on residential flat roofs. A further 392 MW were represented by commercial rooftop installations, while just 45 MW came from the SDE+ program for large-scale solar and renewables.