Subsidy solar panel off, add that of home battery?

Published: 19 April 2023 at 09:38

The Lower House is debating today the phasing out of the net-metering scheme, under which solar panel owners received money for their generated solar power. It was meant to encourage, and it worked: one in five households has them on the roof, making the Netherlands the European leader.

According to politicians, the scheme is becoming increasingly unfair, a solar panel is still profitable without the scheme, and in the process it slows down the development of home batteries. These can be used in relieving the overflowing electricity grid.

'Going insane'

So balancing has had its best days, says not only the coalition, but also solar panel industry club Holland Solar, Netbeheer Nederland and Authority Consumer and Market (ACM).

"Things are going insane with solar panels, thanks to net-metering many private individuals are involved in the energy transition," says Wijnand van Hooff, general director of Holland Solar, "The scheme was meant to be an impetus and it more than succeeded. It is time to phase it out."

What is netting?

The moment a household generates more power than it consumes, such as during a sunny afternoon, it delivers that extra power to the grid. When the washing machine and oven go on in the dark at night, that house actually receives power from the grid.

That generation and consumption are offset against each other, and that's called net metering. A household that generates more in a year than it consumes receives an additional payment.

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Energy suppliers incur additional costs as a result, which they pass on to all their customers. According to the ACM, households pay without solar panels at current electricity prices therefore add several tens of dollars per month.

As the group with solar panels grows, a smaller and smaller group of people are paying for a growing group. That is the unfair aspect of the scheme.

Remains profitable

There's another reason to do away with it: a solar panel will pay for itself in no time with high energy prices. "Before the Ukraine war the payback period was seven years, now it is sometimes in a mere two years," says Hans-Peter Oskam of Netbeheer Nederland. "Even without net-metering, however, it remains very profitable."

The plan is as follows. Beginning in 2025, the amount being stripped away decreases incrementally. In 2031 it will be phased out. Then you will still receive compensation for electricity supplied based on the actual price of electricity.

Political reporter Ewoud Kieviet:

"The cabinet has wanted to get rid of the balancing support for years, but now it is really going to happen. With energy prices soaring, the scheme creates too much inequality, according to parties such as PvdA and GroenLinks in addition to the coalition.

On the other hand, they want guarantees that it will remain profitable to purchase solar panels, the investment should be recoverable in seven years.

The VVD, D66 and ChristenUnie want a subsidy for home batteries and neighborhood batteries instead of solar panel subsidies. Left-wing opposition parties and the CDA think this would encourage even more inequality: "We should not subsidize the Tesla battery."

There is a third reason why things need to change: the grid is overflowing. On average, a household feeds back two-thirds. Because the sun usually shines in the same places, this happens at the same times.

Oskam: "There are already times in the summer when the whole of the Netherlands can be supplied with solar power."

Therefore, according to Netbeheer Nederland, we should use power at times when the sun is shining, but tuning in can be difficult and is not currently encouraged.

Consequently, the home battery market is growing steadily, especially in Germany. The Netherlands remains noticeably behind. Why? Van Hooff: "Because of net-metering, there is no incentive to take one. It is more advantageous to supply power to the grid than to store it in a home battery."

Ron has such a home battery:

Home batteries are not yet popular in the Netherlands, but Ron already has one

Milieu Centraal is less enthusiastic. Puk van Meegeren: "You invest environmentally damaging raw materials and energy in a home battery and only store a little solar power. We find that out of balance. Energy storage is worthwhile, but on a larger scale via a neighborhood battery, for example."

Home batteries are useful for daily consumption, but not for seasonal storage, and we need the latter, says Milieu Centraal.

"But now the grid is used as one big free battery, and the grid is full," says Oskam. But like Milieu Centraal, he too advocates a future where generation and consumption are aligned. "The home battery is not the one, but one of the solutions to that."

Source: NOS News