A New Era for Solar Power in the Netherlands

by W van Zanten, CADDET Dutch National Team


The contribution of renewable energy to the Dutch energy supply is still very small, but the energy market is clearly on the move. To realise the government's ambitious goal of a 10% renewable energy share in the year 2020, tens of millions of Dutch guilders have been reserved for preparing the large-scale introduction of solar energy. Additional funds have been dedicated to intensify research and development, to stimulate industrial follow-up and to support large-scale demonstration projects.

Noise barriers along major routes could be fitted with solar panels.

 Solar Energy

 In the Netherlands the sun provides us with an annual amount of energy which is more
 than 500 times the Dutch electricity demand and 60 times our total energy consumption. That is a huge resource if we can tap into it.

More and more new dwellings are orientated towards the sun, with large windows to the south and small ones to the north. In the Netherlands, solar boilers heat domestic water in more than 15,000 houses at present, and the aim is to increase this number to
 400,000 by 2010. This will be achieved by all the market parties working in partnership; ie the utilities, manufacturers and the authorities.

Photovoltaic solar energy (PV) still requires a lengthy research and development period
 before it can compete with conventional electricity generation. However, financial support is available in the Netherlands (through Novem) for projects that incorporate PV right now. An example is the largest building-integrated PV system in Europe ­
 Amsterdam's newly built 'Nieuw Sloten' area. PV is already competitive in non-grid situations; thousands of autonomous systems, such as light buoys, receive all their electrical energy from the sun. Slowly but surely though, solar cells are finding their way onto Dutch roofs.

 Industry is showing interest too. A Dutch manufacturer of solar cells, Shell Solar Systems, will greatly expand their production capacity in the next few years, and the French manufacturer NAPS is likely to open a new plant in the Netherlands. Three other large industrial enterprises have been positioning themselves in the production and
 marketing of solar cells and a large manufacturer of roof tiles is developing a solar roof
 tile. All these companies are building on the successful, government-supported
 research.  An industry 'club' of autonomous system manufacturers has formed to work towards the market introduction of a PV public lighting system. A number of Dutch organisations have also agreed to install 100,000 'solar home systems' in Indonesia before the year 2000.


Solar panels in production at Shell Solar Systems.

The Solar Century

Solar power has become widely accepted in the Netherlands. This acceptance has enabled a rapid growth in the number of solar applications in recent years. A unique international infrastructure has also been created, with the result that the Netherlands has been building a strong position in the areas of solar heating and PV solar energy.

On the eve of what we believe will be the 'solar century', we recognise the opportunities
for introducing PV in the built environment. Over 50 test and demonstration projects have proved that every house could provide its own energy using PV technology. At present this is done by 'blue' energy roofs, but in the solar century solar tiles and windows will become as common as concrete roof tiles are now.

Early in the next century, suitable roofs and facades in the Netherlands will span a surface area of a billion square metres ­ a huge potential. However, there are other, even more suitable surfaces. For instance, noise barriers with integrated PV panels could be built along major roads and railways. Other locations in the Netherlands, such as dikes, could also house big solar power plants.

Novem is working to promote a broad co-operation between utilities, knowledge centres, building companies, industries and other interested parties to develop PV into a major source of affordable, clean energy. The Dutch government is supporting these efforts by doubling the funding for the Dutch PV solar energy programme.

For more information contact the CADDET Dutch National Team in Sittard.

The CADDET Renewable Energy Newsletter is a quarterly magazine published by the CADDET Centre for Renewable Energy at ETSU, UK.

The articles published in the Newsletter reflect the opinions of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the official view of CADDET.

Enquiries concerning the Newsletter should be addressed to
Pauline Toole, Editor, CADDET Centre for Renewable Energy, ETSU, Harwell, Oxfordshire OX11 0RA, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 1235 432968, Fax: +44 1235 433595.