Dutch solar power capacity up by one fifth, despite cost fears

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Despite concerns about the cost, the Dutch continued to add more solar panels to their homes in 2023, according to new figures from national statistics agency CBS.

Production capacity rose 22% in 2023 when compared with 2022 and is almost 40 times higher than in 2013, the CBS said. Some 42% of capacity is on the roof of private or rental homes, with the rest in the hands of companies.

In total, Dutch solar panel capacity has almost reached 24 gigawatts, or 24 billion watts, the CBS said. Some 17% of electricity production in the Netherlands now comes from solar panels, double the total two years ago. This is due not only to the increase in panels but more sunshine hours, the CBS said.

This year, however, demand for solar panels is collapsing amid confusion over payments for feeding energy back into the grid and the next cabinet’s plans.

According to lobby group Techniek Nederland, companies specialising in installing solar panels have “little or nothing” to do at the moment, because of the uncertainty surrounding costs.

The number of new contracts has collapsed by 95% over the past 10 months when the concerns first surfaced, the organisation told RTL Nieuws. The Netherlands has some 3,000 firms that focus purely on solar panels and, Techniek Nederland says, a wave of bankruptcies is looming.

This February, senate voted against plans to end the current system that allows panel owners to deduct the electricity they supply back into the grid from their own bills. But that, in itself, did not lead to a rise in orders.

That, the sector says, is down to continuing uncertainty facing panel owners, now nearly all energy firms have introduced fees for feeding back power, which they say is needed to cover their costs. The fees depend on a variety of factors but can run to tens of euros a month.

A third of Dutch households have rooftop solar panels.

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