More and more solar panels, but the electricity grid is reaching its limits | NOW

The share of sustainably generated electricity in the Netherlands has been growing for years. Last year, the amount of wind and solar energy amounted to roughly the electricity consumption of the provinces of Utrecht and North Holland added together. That in itself is good news, but the challenge of getting the solar and wind currents in the right place is increasing accordingly.

Last year, more solar panels were added, which increased the amount of solar energy by nearly 50 percent. In relative terms, the yield from wind energy grew the fastest, because it was not that great yet. This is what grid operator TenneT says in its review of the electricity market presented on Wednesday.

The total capacity in our country from all energy sources together, so in addition to solar and wind also from coal and gas, was 41 Gigawatts (GW) last year. Due to the construction of wind farms, both on land and at sea, and the installation of solar panels, on roofs and also on land, sustainable energy will supply an increasing proportion of the required electricity.

“The electricity grid is reaching its limits in various places to transport all this sustainable electricity,” says TenneT. The grid operator will invest billions in the coming years in maintenance, replacement and expansion of the electricity grid. “The demand for electricity is also increasing.” This is partly because the electric fleet is growing.

Solar and wind farms are often constructed in sparsely populated areas, places where little infrastructure for the transport of electricity is available. Substantial investments are now being made in this. “It is not said that this makes electricity more expensive for the consumer. They are political choices as to who pays the bill,” says a spokesman for TenneT.

In order to ‘manage’ peaks in the supply of solar energy on particularly sunny days, TenneT makes agreements with its suppliers. “For example, not to connect the maximum available capacity. That peak is only occasionally anyway.”

On balance, the Netherlands was an electricity exporter

Total electricity production last year was slightly higher than the year before, at 102 terawatt hours. 1 terawatt hour (TWh) equals 1 billion kilowatt hours, a household uses about 3,500 kilowatt hours per year. The share of sun came out at 8 TWh, that of onshore wind at 9 TWh and that of offshore wind at 6 TWh.

According to TenneT, the share of renewable energy will increase sharply in the coming years, especially wind energy at sea.

Last year, for the first time since 1981, more electricity was exported than imported in the Netherlands. Dutch electricity went mainly to Belgium and the United Kingdom.


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