The Netherlands’ Uncertain Solar Position

Earlier reports about a parliamentary majority to preserve the present Dutch subsidy scheme for solar energy (EPR) have not yet been backed up by adequate budget commitments to further boost the solar energy market, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). If the “drastic” cutbacks are carried through, the Netherlands will lose its top position in the area of solar energy, the European branch organisation fears.

Brussels, Belgium – November 13, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] EPIA stressed that Europe needs the expertise and the innovative qualities that have been developed by Dutch companies and research centers in the field of Photovoltaics (PV). No money to preserve the EPR, the only effective incentives tool for solar energy in Netherlands, will have devastating effects on the solar energy sector. Hundreds of high-quality jobs and dozens of businesses are directly dependent on this support scheme. The risk to lose high-quality know-how and invested capital is very high. The Netherlands are a major player in the global PV market. The country’s EPR has helped place the Netherlands as the second largest market in Europe, after Germany, and the fifth one in the world, said EPIA. To preserve this position, investors need long-term security on government support schemes. Capacity to innovate is one of the main strengths of the Dutch PV actors. A good example of the Netherlands’ top position in the area of research and the implementation of this technology is the recently won motor race in Australia (with the Netherlands beating both the US and Japan)! The EPIA added however that innovation and research cannot do without a home market for solar energy. The past five years the global rate of growth in the solar electricity sector has been 30 to 40 percent a year, said EPIA who added that in 2002 the PV sector registered a 33 percent growth in Europe, and The Netherlands largely contributed to this growth. In 2002, 10,000 people were working in the sector in Europe, compared to 7000 employees in 2001; the growth was over 40 percent, according to EPIA. Due to scale and cost savings, the number of commercial applications is rising rapidly,” said EPIA. “We need not to wait until 2020 for profitable solar energy projects. Continuous innovation guarantees continuous reductions in costs, as the PV industry has shown in the past (50 percent price drop in the past 7 years). When the market doubles, the price drops by 20 percent. In order to continue promoting reductions in costs, appealing market prospects must continue to exist. Before reaching a self-sustainable market, support from the governments is necessary in order to develop the market and to develop high-level expertise. This support requires budget commitments.”
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