Most of the Netherlands has now been working from home for two weeks. This also applies to a large part of our members. However, the work continues as usual. The first results of our inventory show that this working from home has an impact on our sector. The main bottlenecks mentioned are not meeting the deadlines of the SDE scheme, and not belonging to the vital sectors with associated rights for personnel.
Delay in application for SDE++ in the medium term
A major concern with the six largest project developers in the Netherlands is meeting the application deadline for the upcoming fall round of the SDE++. In order to participate in this, it is important that various permits have been issued. However, local authorities throughout the Netherlands are currently on hold. As a result, no decisions are made about the granting of permits and developers risk not having the necessary permits in time, so that they cannot participate in this subsidy round.
Another important point for all parties in the sector is involving the environment in development processes. Normally this is done by organizing information evenings and by having a personal conversation with local residents. However, this is not possible at the moment because of the crisis. This also threatens to delay projects that have not yet received a grant.
In view of both these concerns, NWEA is consulting with the Ministry of EZK about postponing the fall round of the SDE++. NWEA expects that other projects that had planned to submit in the autumn round will have the same problems (with the exception of very small projects that do not have a permit requirement). Shifting the start of the autumn round is a solution. Another solution is to be allowed to use the design permit for the SDE application. There are also disadvantages to both solutions, which is why consultation is important for a proper decision. This will prevent a large-scale dip in the roll-out of onshore wind, with all the associated risks for achieving our climate targets.
Short-term concerns about meeting SDE+ deadlines
The SDE scheme is important for the realization of onshore wind projects. It covers the unprofitable top and reduces the risks of a project and thus the costs. One of the rules of this scheme is that the project must supply electricity to the grid within four years of the grant being awarded. If this does not work, the subsidy decision will be withdrawn by the government, so that the project is no longer profitable and cannot be built.
Due to the current crisis, many wind energy construction projects have come to a halt. This is often due to the unavailability of personnel or the inability to supply material by foreign parties. As a result, many of the available projects are in danger of not meeting their term and therefore losing their subsidy.
All developers who are currently in the construction phase with their projects have indicated to us that this problem is at play. We took this up together with the NVDE and communicated it to RVO. RVO has now indicated on Twitter that all projects can apply for one (1) year extension. For more information, see the Tweet below (in Dutch).
Recognition as a vital sector
The third and last widely recognised problem in the sector was the lack of recognition as a vital sector. Being part of a vital sector means that companies that are active in this may continue to work in times of crisis to keep the country going. For the wind sector this means, for example, that faults can be remedied on faulty turbines, and that regular maintenance can be carried out.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate has now clarified this point. They have indicated the following by email: “As an electricity producer, you fulfill an indispensable function for the vital process: National transport and distribution of electricity.” “The same applies to third parties, such as suppliers and / or service providers, who fulfill an indispensable function for the continuation of electricity production.” This means that companies active in wind energy can now also count themselves among the vital sectors, with all associated companies. This includes access to childcare, etc.
However, what this means exactly for the deployment of foreign personnel is still unclear. We are still investigating this point.
As NWEA, we will continue to work to help the sector as best as possible during this time. Do you have any questions regarding the above message, would you like to talk to someone about this or do you have additional information? We’d love to hear from you! Please contact Erik van Diest, because only together will we get through this crisis.
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