Holland will never be known as the sun capital of Europe. Amsterdam’s daily average solar radiation is only about 3 kWh/m2, about the same as Berlin. For comparison, sunny Boston’s daily average is 4.6 (50% more) and Miami’s is 5.3.
While Holland does not yet have the prevalence of solar that Germany has, its people tread the same development path the Germans trod: cooperatives. In Germany, individuals or groups of individuals that formed their own energy cooperatives installed most of the solar. Energy cooperatives power the Dutch solar growth for likely the same reasons:
- “On the one hand people want to contribute to a sustainable green energy.
- “On the other hand, they want to be independent of large organizations such as banks and energy companies.
- “All this has the hallmark of a booming grassroots movement.”
I would love to have answers to some of the questions that come to mind:
- Why do the Dutch and Germans get together and cooperate to create their new energy future?
- Why do rural electric cooperatives in Colorado on municipal utilities in Nebraska shun wind and solar?
- Why did the federal government choose tax credits and accelerated depreciation to promote renewables, when it rewards inputs, not outcomes, and requires some level of wealth to take advantage of it?
- Most importantly, what would it take to make it easy to create energy cooperatives in the U.S.?
I would love to hear your answers!
SolarPlaza: Dutch solar energy growth explodes through local initiatives
Last year in the Netherlands 145 megawatts (MW) of new solar panels were installed, and 3.5 times more solar power was generated than in 2011. Most PV panels are purchased through the joint initiatives of the general public.
“In the Netherlands there are currently more than 300 local energy cooperatives. This is an indication of its popularity. Netherlands is truly a country where growth takes place at grassroots level. I call that the power of the people,” says René Moerman. He is the director of business development at Solar Insurance & Finance, and Chairman of CALorie in Northern Holland. This local public initiative recently opened its first solar power plant with 112 panels, and plan to put another two to four solar powered plants into operation before the end of the year.
“We have been in existence since 2010 and are actually an established club. We have already realized several projects, while new cooperatives will come come to fruition next year. Therefore I expect that solar energy in the Netherlands will more than double in the coming years, purely through the power of growing from grassroots level, “said Moerman.
Cooperatives show people that PV is cost effective and cheaper than electricity from the power company
This opinion on future development is shared by Dr. Frans Stokman, professor of sociology at the University of Groningen and president of Grunneger Power, the local energy cooperative.
“Despite the limitations of net metering and the difficulties of investing in solar energy at other locations besides your own roof, we envisage tremendous potential for growth. This is evidenced by cooperatives such as Grunneger Power that show people that it is cost effective and cheaper than electricity from the power company,” says the professor.
Grunneger Power constructs a roof fitted with solar panels in Groningen every two days.
“Worldwide, you see the number of solar panels growing at an amazing rate. Every year it exceeds the previous year. In the Netherlands, people on the same street collaborate and help each other to purchase solar panels. That is the social impact that we have always envisaged and that is now becoming a reality,” says Stokman.
In the Netherlands, a kilowatt-hour of solar power now costs about 16 cents. Power from an outlet costs on average of 21 cents.