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Dutch solar energy: What’s on the horizon?

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The Netherlands currently has a total of 9 million or so buildings, of which only 4.4% have solar panels – in 2017, there was a total installed base of 3 million solar panels. Despite the fact that there’s 892km2 of roof surface in the country, the current installed base of solar panels supplies less than 2% of the total Dutch electricity demand.


By fully solar roofing The Netherlands, the current 2% of demand could be increased to 50% - for example, installing solar panels on the roofs of all houses would supply nearly 80 petajoule of energy, which is about equal to 98% of total Dutch household electricity demand. So what else is on the horizon for Dutch solar energy?


Engineers are building the world’s biggest sun-seeking solar farm

Dutch engineers are building up what will ultimately be the world’s largest archipelago of islands made up of sun-tracking solar panels. The development is set to become the largest of its type in the world, and will be made up of 15 solar islands on the Andijk reservoir in north Holland. The islands will contain 73,500 panels and have the sunflower-like ability to move to face the light.


The first phase of the project will involve three islands which will all be 140m in diameter, and is due to be finished by November.


Dutch solar set to grow to 23GW by 2023

Installed solar capacity in the Netherlands is set to rise to 20-23GW by 2023, as the country tries to make up for its missed 2020 climate targets. Annual growth is expected to be 2-3GW, as the country has a real pipeline of accepted projects, in both subsidies and building licences.


Last year, the Netherlands installed 1.4GW of solar power – 0.6GW in households and 0.8GW at commercial or utility scale; by the end of 2018, the country had installed a total of 4GW. This growth in Dutch installed solar capacity has lowered demands for power through interconnectors such as Norway and Denmark – the Netherlands is connected to Norway via the 780km NorNed cable, the world’s longest high-voltage subsea link.


The country plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 49% compared to 1990 levels, by 2030.


Solar panels could provide half of Dutch energy demand

As we mentioned earlier, installing more solar panels could provide around of 50% of Dutch energy demand, up from just 2%, as demonstrated through data analysis from Deloitte’s State of the State programme. Even with the country’s cloudy and rainy climate, solar power has great potential.


Installing solar panels on every suitable roof in the Netherlands could ultimately reduce carbon emissions, as these installations could reduce the electricity production-related CO2 emission by 63%, which with reduce the total carbon emission with 20% based on the current situation. In the optimal scenario, where all available surface in The Netherlands is used, a huge 270 million panels could be installed – with a maximum yield of 217 petajoule.

The future of solar energy in the Netherlands is looking promising, with huge gains to be made in terms of the potential energy capacity. It’s certainly a country to keep close watch of, as they continue their investment into renewable energy.

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