Do you want to use sustainable energy in your business? You can consider solar panels or a solar boiler. You can reduce your costs for electricity and hot water significantly. This way you can recoup your investment and improve the energy label of your property. In 2023, most office buildings should have energy label C or better.
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Solar panels or solar boilers
If you want to use solar energy, you can choose to install solar panels, solar boilers, or a combination of the two.
Solar panels (in Dutch) for electricity (solar PV) convert solar energy into electricity. You can install the panel on the roof of your building, or you can invest in a solar farm. You can invest by yourself, but you can also choose to invest together with other companies or people, for instance in local energy initiatives (in Dutch).
Solar boilers (in Dutch) convert sunlight into hot water. This works with solar collectors that you can put on the roof of your company building, for instance. The hot water is stored in a storage vessel, from which you can use it as tap water. Some solar boilers can also be used to heat spaces or for use in industrial processes.
PVT systems are a combination of solar panels and solar boilers. They supply electricity, heating, and cooling. The heat they offer is mainly suitable as a source for heat pumps. A PVT system is one of the new applications of solar energy (in Dutch).
Check with your grid operator
You can return the energy you generate through solar panel to the electricity grid. The grid must have enough capacity to receive this electricity, and this is not always the case. Check with your grid operator what your options are. You can find out which network operator is responsible for your grid in the EAN codebook (in Dutch).
Subsidies for solar panels and solar boilers
If you want to buy or use solar panels or solar boilers, you can make use of a number of subsidies. You can also benefit from tax advantages:
You can apply for the Sustainable energy investment subsidy scheme (ISDE) if you invest in solar panels or solar boilers on a smaller scale. You will be refunded for part of the purchase costs.
Some of the key conditions are:
- You have a small consumer connection of maximum 3 x 80A (ampere)
- Install the solar panels on your company premises
- You apply for the subsidy before you buy the solar panel or solar boiler
You can find all conditions for the ISDE scheme (in Dutch) on the Netherlands Enterprise Agency’s website.
Do you want to invest in solar panels or solar boilers on a larger scale? You can apply for the Sustainable energy transition subsidy scheme (SDE++). You will get a monthly subsidy for the energy you generate over a period of 15 years.
You can use this subsidy for:
- Solar panels you connect via a large consumer connection to the electricity grid.
- Solar thermal systems with a capacity of at least 140 kWth. This only applies to systems with covered solar heating collectors.
- Solar PVT panels with a heat pump. These are solar collectors with which you generate both heat and electricity at the same time.
- This subsidy is open for applications several times per year. You can consult the general conditions for the SDE++ and the conditions specific for solar energy (in Dutch).
Do you want to invest in solar panels together with other companies or people? You can apply for the Subsidy scheme for Cooperative Energy Generation (SCE). This scheme is meant for energy cooperatives or homeowners’ associations (VVEs) that want to buy solar panels to install in a sun farm or a roof. The members of the cooperative should be established in the same area (postal code area).
You can find the general conditions for the SCE (in Dutch) on the website of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) or you can look into the specific conditions (in Dutch) for energy cooperatives and for homeowners’ associations (in Dutch).
The Energy Investment Allowance (EIA) offers a tax advantage if you buy solar panels or solar heat collectors for your company. You can offset a percentage (45.5% in 2021) of the investment costs against your taxable profit. The solar panels and collectors must fit the description included in the Energy list 2022.
Check the conditions for the EIA.
With the Small projects investment credit (KIA) you can deduct part of investments in business assets from your taxable profit. Solar panels or solar boilers can be such business assets. The investment costs cannot be higher than the amounts set by the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingdienst).
Several municipalities or provinces also offer subsidies for solar panels or solar boilers. Or they offer advice, for instance on the suitability of your roof. You can check with your province or municipality which schemes they offer.
Interested in several subsidies?
Do you want to apply for more than 1 subsidy scheme? You should check carefully is this is an option. In general, you cannot combine the ISDE, SDE++, SCE, and EIA, for instance. These schemes can be combined with KIA, or with a provincial or municipal subsidy.
Use, return, or store solar electricity?
You can use the energy you generate from your solar panels yourself. But you can also supply the energy back to the grid, store it, or a combination of these.
Supplying electricity back to the grid
You can supply the electricity you generate back to your energy supplier. You need to report this to your grid operator through the website energieleveren.nl (in Dutch). The grid must have enough capacity to absorb the electricity. Your electricity meter must also be suitable. Ask you grid administrator about this. You can find your grid operator in the EAN codebook (in Dutch).
Do you have a small consumer connection of maximum 3 x 80A (ampere)? Your grid administrator will offset the electricity you return to the grid against the electricity you use. This is called netting, or salderen in Dutch. If you return more electricity than you use, you will be reimbursed by your supplier. This netting arrangement (salderingsregeling) will be phased out from 2023.
For further explanation of netting and supplying energy back to the grid you can consult the information (in Dutch) on the website of the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).
Storing solar energy in a battery system
You can also choose to store (part of) the energy in one or more batteries. Especially when the netting arrangement is being phased out, this can be a beneficial solution. It is also a good option for those regions where you cannot supply energy back to the grid, for instance because the grid is overloaded. You can store energy in batteries only for a limited period. You will still need an electricity connection for winter periods. Note that storing the energy can also impact the amount of your SDE or SCE subsidy.
Paying and reclaiming VAT for solar panels
If you purchased solar panels, you must pay VAT (btw) on the electricity you supply to your energy supply company. You can also apply for a refund of the VAT you paid on the costs of the purchase and installation. This is also the case if you (as a self-employed person without employees, zzp’er) put the solar panels on your home.
How you should reclaim VAT, depends on factors such as your company’s business structure (for instance a sole proprietorship or private limited company, bv).
Tips for reclaiming VAT
- Make sure your company name is on your energy bill and on the invoice for the solar panels. You cannot get a VAT refund on your company’s name if it is missing on either of these.
- Are you self-employed (zzp’er) and did you buy solar panels for your home? And do you live together with someone who is not an entrepreneur and does not have the ambition to become an entrepreneur? It might be easier to have that person reclaim the VAT as a private individual (in Dutch).
Notable issues if you buy solar panels or solar boilers
Do you want to purchase solar panels or solar boilers for your company? You should take into account some concerns:
- Do you want to install solar panels on a roof? Make sure the roof is suitable. The supplier of the solar panels can help you. For some subsidy schemes, for instance the SDE++, a feasibility study is required.
- In some cases, you need an all-in-one permit for physical aspects (omgevingsvergunning). For instance, if you want to install them in a field or on a building that is yet to be built. You can find out if this is the case through the Dutch-language 'Service counter all-in-one permit for physical aspects' (Omgevingsloket Online, OLO). Additionally, you should ask your municipality if you need any other permits.
- If you install solar panels or solar (heat) collectors on your company building, this may affect the insurance for this building. Ask your insurance company about the possible consequences.
Facts and figures: Number of solar panel installations at business locations
An installations is the registration of solar panels at a certain location in a certain year. The number of registrations of installations by companies has increased in recent years.