Netherlands may hit 180 GW of installed solar power by 2050, say grid operators


The Netherlands could reach between 100 GW and 180 GW of total installed solar capacity by 2050, according to a new report by Netbeheer Nederland, the Dutch association of national-regional electricity and gas network operators.

The report is an updated version of the Integral Infrastructure Outlook 2030-2050, which is a study produced by Dutch consultancies Berenschot and Kalavasta. It outlines four growth scenarios for a climate-neutral energy supply by 2050, based on four different policy outcomes.

The “regional scenario” forecasts the largest expansion of PV, up to an astonishing 180 GW of installed capacity. In its previous version, this scenario envisaged “just” 125 GW. The installed solar capacity would come from 58 GW of utility-scale PV and 125 GW of rooftop systems, of which 67 GW on commercial and industrial buildings and 58 GW on residential buildings.

This scenario is characterized by a high level of energy system electrification and a decline in industrial activity, with the country becoming self-sufficient in terms of power supply. Gas would still have a role as backup supply, or in the form of green gas from local biomass and green hydrogen from wind and solar generation. Wind is expected to reach 60 GW, while backup power would expand up to 20 GW.

Under the “national scenario,” the central government will take the lead in the energy transition, with utility-scale renewables to account for a larger share than distributed generation. Wind is expected to reach a total installed capacity of 92 GW, while solar would hit 172 GW, with backup power reaching 18 GW and hydrogen 15 GW.

The “European scenario” involves the theoretical introduction of a CO2 tax at the EU level. The Netherlands is expected to remain an importer of energy under this outlook, with a preference for clean energy of European origin.

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Solar deployment is expected to reach 126.3 GW, of which 35 GW would come from ground-mounted solar plants. Total demand is expected to be much higher than in the regional and national scenarios.

The “international scenario” assumes a completely open international market, with a strong climate policy at the global level. The Netherlands would not be self-sufficient and would continue to depend on imports.

“Renewable energy is generated on a large scale at strategic locations worldwide,” the experts said, noting that solar capacity would reach 100 GW. “This means Netherland will mainly implement offshore wind, because this can compete internationally on price because of the favorable conditions in the North Sea.”

The researchers said that residential PV will be able to feed 55% of the maximum peak on the grid in 2040. Solar parks and other solar generators would account for the remaining 45%.

The Netherlands reached a cumulative installed PV capacity of 16.5 GW at the end of June 2022, according to the most recent statistics released by CBS, the nation’s statistics agency. It also said the nation installed 3,803 MW in 2021 and 3,882 MW in 2022.

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