According to first quarter statistics for 2015, the Dutch PV market is booming again. Installations are on the rise around the country in the form of both rooftop and ground mounted PV installations, and the amount of approximately 370 MW installed capacity is likely to double heading into 2016.
CEO of Solarclarity, Peter Desmet, has extensive experience with the dynamic solar PV industry. “I started for ideological reasons as an installer selling kits to homeowners,” begins Mr. Desmet . “However, I ended up leaving that business to become a distributor. The point where I chose solar was because it was relatively easy and quick to deploy compared to other forms of renewable energy that are more complex. It is because of this very ease of deployment that I believe solar PV will be the biggest and most game changing source of energy in the next five to ten years.”
Desmet envisions a bright future for the Dutch solar market, but strongly emphasizes the work that needs to be done for the Dutch market to continue on this upward trend. “The PV market in other countries in Europe is sleeping, but the Dutch market is really growing as it is driven still by small scale, decentralized solar systems, which is incredibly unique. Rapid growth usually means large scale projects. It is very special for the Dutch to grow at this rate because of the amount of small scale systems in place. This kind of skill and knowledge is what will place Dutch companies in a great position moving forward.”
The key, according to Mr. Desmet, is exporting knowledge. “Dutch politicians appear to be stuck in the industrial era. They believe that the only thing they can export is product, but that is wrong. The Dutch market must be made aware: we need to export knowledge.”
The Dutch PV market admittedly has seen some difficult years from 2013-2014. Desmet explains that there was too much offer and not enough demand for PV, so prices and margins dropped. However 2015 is a different story, and supply and demand are much more in balance. Desmet continues, “If net-metering stays in place beyond 2020, the residential sector will only continue to flourish, particularly since the social housing sector as of January 1, 2015 was just granted permission to obtain the net metering scheme. By 2020, we all have to go to energy neutral houses and there is so much to be done to prepare for that since the PV industry doesn’t quite speak the same language as the construction industry yet . Again, the key is to learn about our industries, integrate them, and export this knowledge! This will be specifically Dutch if we can achieve in doing this. Not many markets exist around the world with such a large residential market, and this knowledge can be brought to countries of all sizes around the world.”
Mr. Desmet attributes Solarclarity’s successes thus far to the forward looking nature of his team. He believes the Dutch PV market will stay on top if industry players continue to look ahead and don’t get temporarily caught up in the present success of the market as there is still a sizeable amount of work to be done to get further ahead. “My job is to look five years ahead, and while I don’t have a crystal ball, I do know that we cannot keep retrofitting modules. We as a PV industry need to be proactive, exploring where we can play a role. At Solarclarity, we seek to find the combination of developing markets and markets with a potential need for us, and trust me, they exist. I am currently conducting business in Jamaica, where they don't go over 100 KWs, which is very much like my home market in The Netherlands. Just another great example of expertise I can export!”, confidently concludes Desmet.