Local solar power clubs criticise lack of government funding

Solar batteries background

Government subsidies for solar panels have been depleted, leaving local energy cooperatives with unfinished projects and dwindling enthusiasm, broadcaster NOS reported on Thursday.

The Netherlands has hundreds of energy cooperatives, or collectives of private citizens opting to develop their own local energy supply. But the lack of finance, which makes the installation of solar panels much cheaper, is putting a break on their contribution to the shift away from natural gas, the cooperatives are saying.

The amount made available by the government had already been upped from €37m to €92m but this too has now been used up. Some 560 of the 740 applications have been approved while 119 are still waiting for the go ahead.

Many cooperatives have now decided to wait until next year to apply, saying the government should have earmarked more money.

‘The people who do this are enthusiasts,’ Paul Stolte of the Lochem Energie cooperative in Gelderland told broadcaster NOS. ‘They really want sustainable electricity but can’t have solar panels on their own roofs. A cooperative is the only way to achieve it.’


According to Siward Zomer of the national organisation of enery cooperatives Energie Samen the fact that there is no more money is a sign that more people are taking sustainable energy seriously.

‘We have transitioned from a group of volunteers to a professional organisation. The government is always a couple of years behind in realising that this is the case,’ he said.

However, others said that the lack of funding and the subsequent delays are dampening people’s enthusiasm at a time when citizens are called on to do their bit for the transition to cleaner energy.

VVD MP Silvio Erkens said in a reaction that a decision about a structural increase of the subsidy budget would have to made during the ongoing formation talks. MP Joris Thijssen (PvdA) said the there should be ‘no limit’ on the number of cooperatives going ahead with projects while GroenLinks MP Tom van der Lee said the subsidy has to be ‘structural and higher’.

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