by André Oerlemans, Solarplaza
BAARN – The gigantic increase of solar power in The Netherlands in the coming years will revolutionize the Dutch energy infrastructure. As renewable electricity will be produced, stored and consumed more and more locally, solar power will create a distributed, decentralized energy grid.
That is the prediction of several international experts who will give their presentation as keynote speaker during The Solar Future NL, the leading Dutch PV conference on May 18th in Baarn, hosted by Solarplaza.
,,Solar is one of the fastest growing energy sources, and this trend is expected to continue,” says Guy Sella, CEO, Chairman and founder of SolarEdge, whose intelligent inverter has been installed in 4.2 Gigawatts of PV systems in 102 countries. In 2016 more than 76 Gigawatts of new PV capacity was installed globally, reaching a total of 305 Gigawatts of solar capacity. Seven years ago that was 50 Gigawatts. In the Netherlands experts predict an increase from 2 to 20 Gigawatts of PV capacity in 2027.
"I am convinced that solar will become the core of our global energy system during this century."
,,I am convinced that solar will become the core of our global energy system during this century,” says Gerard Reid, founder and partner of Alexa Capital, which helps fund renewable-energy investments all over the world.
Both Sella and Reid have seen prices of PV panels and other components go down rapidly – more than 60 percent in the last decade -, making solar energy competitive with fossil energy in more regions around the world.
The most revolutionary development they predict is the changing of the entire energy infrastructure, which for nearly a century has been based on centralized production and distribution. ,,The increase of solar power creates a distributed, decentralized energy network of mini power stations. This means that it has the potential to completely revolutionize the grid and energy infrastructure and democratize energy production by placing the control of energy production and consumption into the hands of individuals. In addition, this will reduce the need for and cost of energy transmission,” says Sella.
According to Reid, we are nearing the point where it is cheaper to use solar to generate electricity with storage attached than buying through the grid. ,,To counteract this, utility companies have to move from selling kilowatt-hours to delivering energy services as well as rethinking the grid and how they charge for it. If they don’t, then people won’t need utility companies anymore. People will do everything on a local level and have their electric cars as batteries on wheels. That’s the real revolution and it will happen a lot sooner than everyone thinks”, says Reid.
New technologies like digitalization will play an important role in decentralization, allowing everybody who’s producing solar power to trade with it as a commodity on the internet. ,,Digitalization allows energy consumers to become more independent and encourages new financial models that can potentially make solar systems more affordable,” says Sella.
"The Dutch solar scene is taking huge steps forward and projects will be even more successful if local developers find ways to rapidly learn from other markets, gain and apply more PV specific expertise and secure better financial backing."
In The Netherlands more and larger scale PV parks are built. A few years ago, solar park Ameland was Holland’s biggest with a capacity of 6 Megawatts. In 2016 near northern town Delfzijl 31 Megawatts solar park SunPort was built, until then the biggest ever. Last year the 50 megawatt Solarpark Zeeland in Vlissingen and a 103 Megawatts PV Park in northern province Groningen were announced.
In Zeeland, German developer of solar power plants IB Vogt is involved in the project. ,,The Dutch solar scene is taking huge steps forward and projects will be even more successful if local developers find ways to rapidly learn from other markets, gain and apply more PV specific expertise and secure better financial backing,” says ib vogt’s managing director Anton Milner. ,,Much of the development effort is local; much of the PV experience, expertise and financing know-how is regional or global. Combining these aspects can provide a huge advantage to secure and enhance projects.”
He is one of the key solar industry experts in Germany and founder of solar cell manufacturer Q-Cells. ib vogt has built over 0,6 GWp solar power alone in Europe as well as raised over $ 1 Billion in financing globally.
,,These developments are complex with both very interesting value enhancements to be achieved, as well as many obvious and not so obvious pitfalls to avoid,” Milner says. ,,For example, we continually see cases where the value of certain projects can be increased up to a 20 or 30 percent range through application of leading edge techniques. On the other side, the industry has also been littered with a number of horror stories when things went wrong, as well as where oversights at the development stage have killed or strongly impaired projects. Nearly all cases which should have been avoided.”
As the industry matures, the development and project standards and requirements are continually increasing - driven by investor’s requirements, Milner states. And above this, financing plays an ever increasingly key role, both in the financial backing that local investors require to professionally bring projects to completion as well as in securing optimal and timely build out financing. Milner: ,,Getting these aspects right are the challenges and opportunities that have to be mastered to really maximise the potential of the emerging Dutch market.”