This article was published in abridged form on January 27 on the opinion page of the AD.
Our Dutch economy earns worldwide from the energy transition. Also the solar and wind sector. For example, Dutch companies are working on solar meadows in Spain or in Africa and foreign companies are investing in Dutch offshore wind projects. This provides thousands of jobs and many investments that are also used in the Netherlands for new projects.
Many companies in the Dutch energy sector operate internationally. This is partly due to the liberalization of this sector. In almost all cases, parks are developed by Dutch people from a company established in the Netherlands and these companies remain manager and point of contact for local residents for the full duration of the project. Even if the park is owned by investors, for example a pension fund.
The billions of investments made by Dutch and international companies in our country must be profitable. Fossil energy is currently even cheaper, so a subsidy is needed: otherwise these projects will not get off the ground and the Netherlands will not become more sustainable. With the subsidy, the government calculates a return of eight percent on equity, from which the costs of land, failed projects or environmental funds must also be covered.
Spatial impact limited and rightly positive
The number of wind and solar parks in particular is growing. This understandably leads to questions and unrest. AD argues that 3,500 windmills and tens of thousands of hectares of solar park will be added, with 45,000 football fields of sun. Unfortunately, calculations have been made with data that are outdated or with incorrect assumptions. Much less is needed to meet the 2030 target. The total surface area is much smaller: for solar panels, seven of the eight panels end up on roofs; in large-scale parks, this is still 75% on roofs. But even if we assume that half of the production takes place on agricultural land, this will still be about 9,000 hectares, 0.7% of the agricultural land area, as calculated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Moreover, solar parks are constructed in such a way that nature increases, as the sector has agreed in a strict agreement with nature and environmental organizations.
At most 800 new wind turbines will be added, which will largely replace existing wind turbines and, moreover, the majority of which are already being built and planned. Some Regional Energy Strategies (RES) still incorrectly calculate with a capacity of 3 MW per wind turbine. However, modern wind turbines that will be installed in the coming years will yield much more, and therefore fewer will be needed.
Not everywhere 50 percent local propety posssible
Every project in the Netherlands is developed with local residents; with the members of Holland Solar and NWEA in accordance with the codes of conduct for wind and solar on land. Local residents contribute ideas and determine what the parks will look like. The environment can participate financially through, for example, 50 percent local shareholding. This is unique. No highway, factory or urban sprawl is being developed with 50 percent locally owned. Where citizens develop a solar or wind park locally, this receives all the support and opportunity.
That does not mean that every project will and can come into local ownership. Local residents can of course decide for themselves whether they feel like it and whether they want to invest time and money in it. Moreover, solar and wind farms are often located in sparsely populated areas. We support the pursuit of financial participation: everyone is welcome. But the climate clock is ticking fast: we have at most thirty years left for a clean energy system. So let’s put down as many trampolines as possible and as few obstacles as possible for people and companies that want to contribute to this.
- Olof van der Gaag, director of the Dutch Renewable Energy Association (NVDE)
- Wijnand van Hooff, director of Holland Solar
- Sascha van Rooijen, director of the Netherlands Wind Energy Association (NWEA)