Solar leasing is a hot phenomenon in the United States and Australia, and several other countries around the world that have welcomed the world of solar with open arms. The Dutch PV market has generally gravitated towards privately owned solar panels, however there are enough benefits of a solar leasing scheme that the market is finally open to shifting towards the concept of solar leasing. Shares Mr. Niels Bartels of Suniverse enthusiastically, “As far as trends to watch in The Netherlands for 2015 are concerned, solar leasing will be the trend of the year.”
Mr. Mark Roesink, Investment Manager of ASN Bank has been working closely with Mr. Bartels, Managing Director of Suniverse, to bring solar leasing to the Dutch market. Together and with the help of several parties they have created a reference document facilitating solar leasing within Housing Associations. Both options of housing associations taking over the lease and renters of the units taking over the solar lease are offered by market parties, though the result mainly depends on the preference of the housing association and any financing requirements.
Explains Mr. Roesink, “Housing Associations either invest in solar themselves or source it out to solar leasing companies. Because these companies all have their specific approach and conditions , it is then difficult for these associations to screen all of the different types of contracts, modules and suppliers that are available. After a suggestion from Maart Corpeleijn, who advises Housing Associations on solar projects, Mr. Bartels and I started a draft document that takes into account the latest view on the legal and technical issues of such a matter. It is a framework for assessing the risk of solar leasing in Housing Associations for the different parties involved, for example what happens when renters decide to move to another home or choose not to pay for their solar panels anymore.”
Housing Associations are the target group of choice for this reference document as they contain over 2.5 million Dutch properties, many with free space on their already existing rooftops. Looking at the California solar market in the United States, for example, in 2007 only 10% of California homeowners were going solar through a solar panel leasing arrangement. The shift to over 75% solar leasing in 2012 is clearly significant, demonstrating that the financial savings from solar leasing is significant for new solar homeowners. Interestingly, around 40% of Dutch people rent their homes on the current market, making the aforementioned solar leasing scheme via Housing Associations a very attractive scheme when looking to bring solar to the masses. Notes Mr. Bartels, “Housing associations expressed more interest this year on making solar panels available to their tenants. This is driven by increased demand from their tenants and increased senior management attention.”
He continues, “At present, we are working with a few database partners that have a large client base for rooftop solar propositions, and this will really help Dutch people to become more familiar with the solar leasing model.” Bartels and Roesink anticipate that the market share for this year will therefore most likely be written with a single digit, but a steep growth curve is expected thereafter.
Mr. Roesink envisions big financial opportunities for solar leasing in the Dutch market. Mr. Bartels estimates that the savings solar can bring per household could amount up to 25%, or sometimes even more depending on the terms and conditions agreed with the housing association.
Roesink and Bartels also suggest that solar leasing is not necessarily more expensive than buying, as it benefits from economies of scale and better performance due to real time system monitoring. “If you would exclude these benefits and invest money from your savings account, you may end up a couple of cents cheaper per kWh. However this would still be comparing apples and oranges as the interest on your savings account doesn’t contain a risk premium to make up for exploitation risks,” states Bartels.
Mr. Roesink adds, “ASN Bank also provides green funding for projects (loans which are based on the green loan tax scheme) that gives customers a reduction on commercial interest rates around 0.75-1% below normal rates. Normal loans are also an option for solar projects that are on a project finance basis of non recourse.” To learn from Mr. Roesink discussing various solar schemes and their impact on the Dutch market in further detail, join The Solar Future NL conference on May 27, 2015 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands (www.thesolarfuture.nl).
TSF NL is a high-level, executive conference attracting key market players from the local and international markets while providing an educational atmosphere for extensive networking and solar growth. Mr. Mark Roesink will be joining Solarplaza as a panelist discussing the future of the Dutch PV market and business innovations, where he will share more in-depth information regarding the Reference Document, and other exciting forms of Dutch solar finance innovations.