The Netherlands: Housing Companies Install Fixed Price Solar Systems
 The Netherlands: Housing Companies Install Fixed Price Solar Systems

The Netherlands: Housing Companies Install Fixed Price Solar Systems

Starting in January 2011, the Energy Performance Coefficient (EPC) building code in the Netherlands has set new and stricter limitations on housing construction. Although solar is not the only option to meet the new standards, it turns out to be the most economical solution in some of the projects. ZEN Renewables has just won a tender to install solar systems in two building projects in the centre of Holland. They will deliver energy to a combined number of 280 housing units.

Since January 2011, the Energy Performance Coefficient for new residential houses in the Netherlands has been changed to 0.6. Roughly speaking, this means that an average single family house must not need more than 600 m3 of natural gas per year for space heating and hot water.

“It is a value that cannot normally be reached just by installing the latest window frames and insulation,” says Hans Brekelmans, Managing Director of ZEN international. ZEN produces and sells solar collectors, storage tanks and other heating components. By manufacturing about 10,000 m2 of collector area per year, ZEN is one of the biggest solar thermal production companies in the Benelux countries. The company also offers heat pumps and PV systems.

The projects’ 280 houses are being built in Dronten and Luttelgeest, in the newly developed rural land at the IJsselmeer. All houses will be equipped with 2.8 to 4.2 m2 collector fields and a 150 to 200 litre storage tank. The first collectors were delivered in mid-December 2011, which will be followed by the first tanks in early 2012. Both projects are said to be completed by the end of 2012.

Generally, the EPC requirements can be achieved through other alternative energy systems as well. However: “It often turns out that solar thermal systems are the most economical solution to meet the EPC requirements,” says Brekelmans.

The common way to sell a solar system in the Netherlands has always been as a complete kit, Brekelmans explains: “The optimised combination of collector, storage vessel, pump and control unit produces the best yield. The pump and control unit are often integrated into the storage tank, allowing an easy installation and aesthetic looks.”

As it is also common in the Netherlands, the solar systems in Dronten and Luttelgeest are installed at a fixed price. “We are in close contact with independent installers and roofers. We help them to calculate a reasonable price for the installation, based on the project details, so that they can offer their work to customers at a fixed rate.” One of the usual estimates would be around EUR 150 for mounting a square metre of collector area on the roof and EUR 700 to install tank and piping. Projects with a large number of systems often require additional workers or companies to do the roof work and the indoor installations.

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Eva Augsten

Eva Augsten is a German freelance journalist specialised in renewable energies.