Spotlight on GW EU solar markets: Sun shines brightly on the Netherlands

We are beginning 2021 by shining a spotlight on the Top 5 EU solar markets, based on the results from our latest EU Market Outlook for Solar Power. Today we look at the EU’s second-largest market in 2020: the Netherlands. Almost 3 GW capacity was added last year, and a project pipeline totaling 12 GW of subsidised projects are on their way. This paints a quite sunny picture in the Netherlands, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The national association Holland Solar predicts that in 2021, 3.5 GW of solar capacity will be added.

Besides these positive statistics, the Netherlands also saw innovative approaches to solar, going beyond standard rooftop and utility installations. In 2020, the number of completed floating solar sites increased, making use of various water deposits and sandpits. Solar carports have seen increased interest (for example, a festival site in Dronten constructed a 35 MW solar carport). Residential solar remained an important market segment, with yearly added capacity totaling up to 1 GW. Despite not amassing a large size, this type of solar installation fosters people’s day-to-day awareness regarding the energy transition in the Netherlands, garnering support for spaces being used for solar. The concept regional strategies published in the Netherlands show that right now rooftop solar systems are strongly favoured over onshore wind turbines.

Regarding the main drivers for solar in the Netherlands, the SDE+ tendering scheme has traditionally been stimulating. From 2019, there were two subsidy rounds in the spring and autumn, where solar competed with other energy sources, with a budget of €5 billion each, and in spring 2020 the last round of that format was held, with €4 billion. In this last round, solar was awarded 98% of the assigned projects, equal to 3.44 GW.

Looking to the future, more solar energy projects based on PPA contracts are expected to be developed without any incentives, with utility-scale solar set to reach grid-parity in the next three years. Wood Mackenzie’s recent figures support this picture, showing an estimated growth in the Netherlands of 12.9 GW in the next five years, amounting to 2.58 GW mean capacity installed per year. In summary, a strong, resilient, and stable outlook for solar in the second-largest GW market in the EU.

Many thanks for their market intelligence to Peter Molengraaf, President, Holland Solar; & Amelie Veenstra, Policy Director, Holland Solar. 

Photo: © GroenLeven, 27.4 MW Bomhofsplas floating solar

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