Solar power, answer for Leiden’s renewable energy source?

Our primary energy generation still relays on fossil fuels. Approximately 80% of the world’s energy supply comes from fossil fuels. However, fossil fuels will soon or later depleted. Therefore, energy generation by non-fossil fuels should be implemented on large scale. Solar energy has a large potential to generate a considerable amount of energy in the world. The potential of solar energy can be seen in figure 1.

Figure 1. Solar energy potential in the world.

Energy generation still also relays primarily on fossil fuels in The Netherlands. In 2014 only 5.5% comes from renewable sources. The government has set a target of 20% renewable energy sources in 2020. In the next coming years we have to increase our renewable sources by 14.5% of our total energy generation. Currently, biomass and wind energy accounts for the majority of renewable energy in the Netherlands. Solar power has relatively a small share in comparison to biomass and wind energy. This can be seen in figure 2.

Figure 2. Shares of renewable energy sources in the Netherlands.

However, in recent years the use of solar power has significantly increased from 88 MW in 2010 to 1405 MW in 2015. Solar power will contribute a significant amount of renewable energy. In order to reach the target of 20% renewable energy sources in 2020, solar energy has to expand in The Netherlands. Solar power has potential to generate energy as can be seen in figure 3.

Figure 3. Solar power potential by annual sun hours.

The potential is not that high as in countries with more sun hours per annum e.g Australia. However, Germany installed an enormous number of solar power systems. In 2015 the installed capacity was 40782 MW.[i] This accounts for approximately 7% of the total energy generation in Germany. The amount of solar energy generation is almost neglectable. Germany has a similar sun energy potential as in the Netherlands; we have a similar climate and sun hours per annum. Therefore, it is likely to implement similar solar systems in the Netherlands as in Germany to increase the share of renewable energy sources.

Solar energy has a small share in renewable energy in the Netherlands. However, let’s zoom further in local municipalities in the Netherlands. The city of Leiden has an ambitious target to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% compared to 1990 in 2030. They also want to increase the use of renewable energy sources. The percentage of renewable energy was 6.1% in 2014 in Leiden according to klimaatmonitor. The share of renewable energy usage is slightly higher than the national average. However, Leiden has less solar polar per inhabitant than the national average. This can be seen in figure 4.

Figure 4. Comparison Leiden-the Netherlands solar power per inhabitant

This suggests the city does not invest enough in solar systems. According to figure 3 Leiden has a higher solar potential than other cities in the Netherlands. Moreover, Lots of roofs are suitable for installing solar panels. In order for Leiden and the Netherlands to reach its targets, solar energy could attribute significantly more to renewable energy sources than our currently capacity of solar energy.



5 thoughts on “Solar power, answer for Leiden’s renewable energy source?”

  1. Well I see the potential of solar power in Leiden, but did you take a look at the historical buildings in the city centre? I can imagine lots of the buildings in our city centre wouldn’t be suitable for solar panels because of their historical status. Or is this problem already taken into account? I would like to hear from you!


    1. New forms of solar panels are currently being developed and places. Solar panels in the shape of roof tiles, panels that are so thin that they can be applied as a sort of coat to existing structures, barely visible. These could be a solution for historical buildings.

      The new panels can also be places on streets and highways. But if we focus on profitable roofs alone, what do you think is the solar power potential of this city?


      1. @efabmaria I think rooftops have the most solar potential in this city. Since, rooftops have less barriers from shadows of trees of other buildings than for example pavements. In the Netherlands in 2014 the SolaRoad was introduced. Solar panels were integrated in a bicycle road. While in exceed their annually electricity yield (70 kWh per m3) A rooftop would generate twice as much electricity per square meter. However, we should analysis the possibilities of solar panels on roads too, to generate the most out of solar energy. Because in some situations (historical buildings) placing solar panels on them can be difficult task,


    2. @lieuwe1994 Adding solar panels on historical buildings is a difficult topic. Municipalities can encourage both promoting renewable energy systems and support the protection of historic resources. Solar panels could be installed on less important areas of the historic buildings or on previous altered/renovated areas. However, this will not apply to every historical building, therefore you have to analysis the architecture of each building if there’s the option to place solar panels.


  2. Yo man sick blog! For me the thing I always think of when solar is suggested is the resources needed to create them. I keep remembering one of the lectures we had on resources scarcity showing that in order to create solar panels on a much larger scale the amount of mining needed to supply especially some rare metals would need to increase dramatically. Although I dont claim to be an expert on this by any means, my personal opinion is that maybe to avoid a resource crisis or unsustainable mining for metals perhaps each area needs to consider what resources they have in abundance locally then try to exploit this. This may mean that in very sunny dessert or tropical regions around the equator solar panels will play an instrumental role in power generation but in places like the Netherlands… Perhaps not. Let me know what you think!


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