Author: Lorena Nieuwenhoven (Solarplaza)
During the webinar this Wednesday (12 April) on the topic of Overcoming Grid Congestion: Clearing the Road to Connect New Dutch Solar Capacity with Wannes Devillé, Senior Grid Specialist at Solarfields and Gertjan Mulder, Portfolio Director at Enexis, answered various key question on the current state of the Dutch energy grid and how this impacts the increase of renewable energy in the system.
Gertjan provided the grid operator’s perspective on what factors play a role in running an efficient system and the increasing need for more capacity in our network - such as location and demand factors. He also began by assuring the audience that Enexis is not against solar generation in general, or solar parks in particular. The Dutch grid operators are doing everything they can to further grow solar generation. Of course, building faster remains an important pillar in this.
Wannes complemented this with his experience as a developer, asking the hard questions on how to ensure renewable generation growth in an overloaded system. How to minimize the barriers and bottlenecks that are currently casting a shadow over new developments. He also showcased examples of Solarfields’ experience in the market by providing key stats on projects like Vloeivelden and H2 Hollandia, Solarcarport Biddinghuizen (Lowlands), Zonnewarmtepark Dorkwerd, and the Bontepolder project. Some of which feature innovative technologies such as green hydrogen and battery storage.
This is one of the hottest topics in the Netherlands, and the webinar conversation was kicked off by reflecting on the state of the market, which is emphasised by articles such as NOS’ headline “Grid operators: stop solar parks where there is hardly any demand for electricity”. Following is a summary of points made by both speakers and answers to some questions from the audience.
What legislative/regulatory changes do you think are needed to solve/mitigate some of the existing barriers?
How do you view making PV systems mandatory on large roofs or large parking lots, as widely reported in the news just last week? Is this desirable, conducive and feasible?
How big a role do you think storage will play in minimizing grid congestion?
What are some tools that you are looking into to solve the current bottlenecks in the grid?
Enexis speaks out about the development of solar initiatives. If you look at the scarcity map you might say: that's richly late.
Gertjan: That is true, but that does not alter the fact that we must look at how we are going to do it in the next five to ten years. Generation has grown tremendously fast but the naturalness of recent years is no longer there. This forces us to take a much more critical look at how we are going to do it. Namely, by fitting in smarter.
Grid operators started too late with grid extensions, and it now feels as though the solar sector has to solve these problems. How to move forward?
Gertjan: We can see that there has been too little investment, because there is scarcity. Of course, we can also turn the question around: How would our environment have reacted if we had wanted to expand by 2GW per year four years ago without knowing the concrete applications for this. That would not have been accepted either. We are now expanding to the maximum in order to increase grid capacity, but we have also learned something else over the past few years: don't just focus on more grid capacity, but also look at how to use those grids efficiently. We are working hard on the former. For the second, we need the help of market parties and policymakers.
How does Enexis view the development of Zon op Dak?
Gertjan: We see a great social need to use more rooftops for generation. Encouraging is becoming more and more of an obligation. But rooftop solar is also facing scarcity. And so it is important to pave the way for Sun on Roof. To some extent, it also has some advantages with existing users and existing grid nearby. But there again, we need to look for ways to minimize the impact of more and more solar on rooftop on the lower grid areas.
Regarding the scarcity map: will it remain so red, even if everyone does their best to use the grid ever more intelligently?
Gertjan: I fear that we will not be rid of it for the time being. All the more reason to adapt to it and make clear choices in those forms of generation that we as a society find add the most value.