Dutch Move To Limit Solar On Agri Lands Triggers Protests From Trade Body

Dutch Move To Limit Solar On Agri Lands Triggers Protests From Trade Body Iowa State University is Awarded $1.8 Mn Grant for Agrivoltaics Project

Europe, even as it seemingly embraces solar with a massive jump in installations through 2022-23 that have been seen so far, still has some serious solar sceptics. Be it those who would rather prefer gas, the top energy fuel for the continent till recently, or even nuclear or Hydro, which powers countries like France and Norway respectively, the approach in many countries remains ‘anything but solar’.  Nowhere is this more true than the Netherlands, where the government has triggered multiple protests from solar bodies including Holland Solar, the local solar body. With less than 0.2% of current agricultural area under solar currently, the protests seem justified certainly.

The catalyst for the protests from Holland Solar is a proposal from the Dutch government, announced on 6th July, by the Minister of Climate and Energy that seems to propose a nationwide ban on solar deployments on agricultural land. This ban on ‘agrivoltaics‘ is problematic as it doesn’t seem to define specific situations well enough for solar installers and customers to move on most projects in agricultural areas.

Sensitivity to using solar on agricultural land is understandable to an extent in the Netherlands, as no other country in the world has achieved so much with so little land, when it comes to agriculture. As the world’s second largest exporter of agricultural goods, the Dutch have every reason to treat their available land very carefully.

However, Holland Solar’s contention seems to be to allow the decision on solar to local  authorities who should know best, and not a national mandate.

The Netherlands has recently released its updated National Energy and Climate Plan for approval by the EU, where it has also increased its targets for solar. Thus the government plan seems to indicate that this extra solar would be mainly on rooftops and on waste land where possible, ignoring agricultural opportunities, including many new European innovations like solar fences and more.

In fact, in the last two years we have seen farmers achieving success even with land under solar, by growing relevant greens there, effectively turning it into dual use land.


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