Will the subsidy for solar panels remain available?

Agricultural entrepreneurs with plans to invest in sustainable energy can apply for a subsidy as of November the 24th. This is 8 weeks later than originally planned. Moreover, the SDE+ subsidy will turn into the SDE++. What changes will this funding round entail?

The Dutch ‘Sustainable Energy Transition Incentive Scheme (SDE)’ returns in a renewed version this year. Under the name SDE++, €5 billion will be made available to support investments in sustainable energy. The subsidy scheme has been changed in several ways. “Mainly, new techniques have been added,” says Robbert van Otterloo, SDE advisor at RVO.nl. “Also, from now on the subsidy will be calculated on the basis of avoided tons of CO2 emissions instead of a compensation for the energy generated”.

The SDE+ subsidy scheme, which could last be applied for in March 2020, was intended for companies that wanted to generate sustainable energy from solar, wind, water, biomass or geothermal energy. The renewed SDE++ also stimulates other emission reduction technologies. These include aquathermal energy, heat pumps, hydrogen production and the daylight greenhouse.

The requested amount determines the chances of granting

According to Van Otterloo, this broadening does not automatically mean that the chance to be granted a subsidy for a solar project will be reduced. “Despite the fact that more techniques are participating in the scheme, it is not possible to say in advance whether a larger amount of subsidy will be applied for. Moreover, the applicant determines the amount for which the subsidy will be applied. The height of that amount is one of the factors that determines how favorable the application is.

With the subsidy scheme, the government wants to achieve as much emission reduction as possible in the most cost-effective manner. The cheapest receive the grants, so that the most CO2 reduction per euro subsidy is realized. One of the basic principles remains that only the unprofitable top is subsidized. In other words, the difference between the cost price of the technique and its yield.

According to the government, the subsidy scheme has proven to be effective in this area. For example, various techniques for sustainable electricity have shown a substantial reduction in cost price in recent years, including the generation of solar energy. It is therefore expected that some techniques will no longer require subsidies in the short term.

Start of the subsidy scheme is postponed with eight weeks

The maximum subsidy to be received in 2020 is €300 per ton of CO2. The first round of SDE++ was initially scheduled to start on September the 29th. The start was postponed by Minister Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate by 8 weeks to November the 24th. One reason was that the corona outbreak delayed the granting of the necessary permits for an SDE++ subsidy application.

According to Wiebes, the adjusted opening dates gives projects sufficient time to make the necessary preparations. In recent years, subsidy rounds have often been oversubscribed. Whether that will happen again this autumn remains to be seen. “RVO cannot comment on this,” says Van Otterloo.

* These are basic amounts. Basic amount 2021 is preliminary advice from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL).

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This article was originally published on boerenbusiness.nl on September 9th, 2020.