Solar panels beyond the virtue signaling

We moved into a house with solar panels in May, and we generated far more electricity than we used until November. That’s living in Amsterdam, not one of the sunnier places in the world.

If you look at a satellite view of any middle class Dutch neighborhood, you’ll see tons of solar panels. There have been great tax incentives, and they really are nice for virtue signaling in a way that simply reducing consumption isn’t

But now the power companies have no idea what to do with all the electricity on summer days. My neighborhood also has district heating and hot water, so the power company heats water with the extra electricity since hot water is much easier to store than electricity is.

But the tide is changing, and it looks like most Dutch people are going to have to pay to send their electricity back to the grid (article in English):

Customers will pay between €3 and €90 a month to deliver excess electricity into the grid, depending on how much they produce, but the company expects the average payment to be around €20.

During the sunny spring last year, some Dutch solar households actually earned money by using as much energy as they could because of the shortage of grid capacity to take back excess electricity.

And this reinforces what I’ve already come to believe: gimmicky things like solar power and wind turbines aren’t serious ways to decarbonize electricity. They have niche uses, especially for rural, off-grid houses. To get serious about decarbonization, Western Europe needs to build a lot of nuclear power plants.