Currently, only 14% of the total electricity use comes from renewable energy sources. According to the Climate Act, this must become 100% by 2050. The Netherlands lies far behind other European countries in terms of transitioning to renewable energy sources. Achieving these ambitions requires a clear acceleration in the transition to renewable energy; capital and policies are essential in this. There is sufficient interest and available capital amongst investors to invest in alternative energy sources, including solar parks. However, to actually make the transition, this issue has to be a priority on the governments’ agenda. Savills therefore calls for a comprehensive delta plan with a Minister of Climate and Sustainability at the helm. This is illustrated in the research report 'Spotlight - Solar to the next level'.
Janine de Ruiter Senior Consultant Renewable Energy at Savills: “Whether the renewable energy sector will continue to grow or not, is not a question for us. The drive for this sector to strive is not only present in the market but also amongst government officials, furthermore the solar investment market is gaining maturity further increasing investors’ interest. However, the market will have to face certain challenges. For instance, timely investments will have to be made in large-scale energy transition developments, such as adding more capacity to the grid to facilitate the increase in alternative energy sources. Just as important is local authorities accelerating their policy development in order to process permit applications faster. To achieve this, a far-reaching focus is needed. This focus can only be achieved with a delta plan; a clear long-term policy and cooperation between all parties: farmers, national and regional authorities, network operators and investors. We also advocate for a Minister of Climate and Sustainability taking the lead in such a delta plan.”
Solar market far from saturated
Savills’ research report also illustrated that the Dutch investment market for solar parks is clearly showing signs of maturity. Worldwide, the solar investment market has experienced explosive growth: an impressive increase of 18% in 2017 compared to the previous year. This market maturation is also reflected in the scale of the expansion of solar park developments. As a result, the first developments are already being sold to investors in the Dutch market. Initially, investments went into the development of solar parks, which were then held in their own portfolio. This growth has continued in 2018 and is predicted to continue in the coming years, due to decreasing risks. For one thing, investors can rely on the SDE+ subsidies, which will remain available at least until 2025. In addition, the Dutch government has committed itself to energy-neutrality by 2050 with the Climate Act. Finally, investors can count on the ever growing and higher returns per square metre of solar panels due to continuous technological improvements within the sector.
Increase in scale
The record for the largest solar park, both in terms of capacity and number of solar panels, has been successively broken almost every year. A great example of the increase in scale the sector is experiencing, is the construction of the soon-to-be largest Dutch solar park in Vlagtwedde. This development is the result of a collaboration between the UK’s British Solarcentury and the Dutch Powerfield. The viability of solar parks as investments has also not gone unnoticed amongst other investors. The Danish renewable energy investor Obton, for example, has indicated that it will invest €100 million per annum in Dutch solar power projects over the next few years.
In view of current pipeline projects, there is no doubt that the sector of large-scale solar power projects will continue to grow over the next few years. As a result of combining consistent policies with the interest in solar investments, a win-win situation may arise. Goals will be achieved faster due to the increased available capital. Simultaneously, more powerful policies increases investor interest even further”, according to the Ruiter.