There were 40% more solar panels installed in the Netherlands in 2017, a sharp rise over the 13% increase the previous year, according to a new report published on Wednesday.
Continual price decreases, government subsidies and increasing awareness among consumers and companies all contributed the the strong growth, the report said.
More than half a million households in the Netherlands now sport solar panels on the roof of their homes.
Nevertheless, ‘solar energy produces only 2.2% of the electricity supply and we are still one of the least solar power-reliant countries in the EU. This means there is a lot of room for further growth,’ said Rolf Heynen of research group Good, one of the companies behind the report.
Research by the group indicates there are 12 million solar panels in the country, covering 12 km2, but that another 5,500 km2 of land remains suitable for the panels. This represents only 5.5% of the surface area of the Netherlands.
If all 5,500 km2 is covered by solar panels, more than 75% of the country’s energy needs could be supplied by solar power, Heynen said.
The Netherlands is also a major solar panel import and trading centre. In 2017, traders imported 12 million panels worth €1.7bn of which 40% were built in Vietnam and ‘only’ 13% in China.
In 2015 more than half the imported panels came from China. This probably indicates that Chinese solar panel manufacturers are moving their production to Vietnam, the report said.
The solar panel industry in the Netherlands has a workforce of 9,000 and estimated annual turnover of €3bn.
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