Cooperation between 12 municipalities can be a precursor to more sustainability initiatives
7,000 families, spread over twelve municipalities within the Eindhoven Metropolitan Region, will be given the opportunity to purchase solar panels over the next two years without any investment of their own. To this end, the Regional Cooperation Project De Groene Zone (The Green Zone) was set up. Today, at the occasion of its presentation, the group was already cautiously looking ahead to other sustainability initiatives that could result from this collaboration.

For each municipality, the local municipal council has decided on how many homes can be provided with solar panels. These are Asten (221 homes), Best (366), Cranendonck (256), Deurne (450), Eindhoven (3061), Geldrop-Mierlo, Gemert-Bakel (267), Laarbeek (308), Someren (218), Son en Breugel (506), Valkenswaard (482) and Waalre (247). The money required for this purpose will be advanced by the municipality. After an invitation to tender, the Groningen company Tautus came out to execute the contract.

Paul van Liempd

For a maximum of 15 years, residents repay the loan on a monthly basis at an interest rate of 1.35%. The lifespan of the solar panels is at least 25 years, “which means that from day one its owner earns money”, aldermanPaul van Liempd from Waalre said at the presentation. “The strength lies in its simplicity. You register, after which someone comes to you to look at your energy needs. If, for example, a resident wants to get rid of their gas supply altogether, the energy requirement will be adjusted immediately. Furthermore, such a person actually only needs to choose whether he wants black or blue panels. Taking away any worries from the participants is an important aspect. Because it is no longer necessary to find out everything for yourself and there is no investment involved, we are probably able to persuade a lot of people who would otherwise drop out.”

The project is mainly intended for people with a small income, but they will not be selected on this basis. It is a matter of ‘first come, first serve‘. Only if an additional need will be very clear, municipalities can consider a new tender.

The form of collaboration with municipalities and provider is a tried and tested concept that has been successfully rolled out in Landgraaf, among other places. The municipalities are responsible for the pre-financing of the panel purchase and peripherals for residents entering the project. The provider is responsible for laying and connecting the panels, maintenance, and service in case of defects. The administrative tasks are carried out on behalf of the municipalities by a joint administrative unit, which is located with the municipality of Eindhoven. The administrative unit takes care of all administration between municipalities and residents.

Residents can find more information and application forms at www.degroenezone.nl.

Alderman Marcel Bax of Valkenswaard said he expects that the initiative will not only generate trade for Tautus. “This could also get a spin-off in the rest of the village. People who do have the money to invest in solar panels will do so sooner and in this way help the local economy.” According to Van Liempd, Landgraaf’s example has already shown this. “The local spin-off is another 100% of what is already being done within the project.”

Alderman Joan Briels from Laarbeek added that solar panels are in themselves beautiful, but that there is more to be done. “Of course, much more needs to be done for a more sustainable society. That’s why we also point out homeowners who want to isolate their house, for example, to the SVn-loans that can be used for this purpose. ‘Zero on the meter‘ requires more than just solar panels.

The province of Brabant also supports De Groene Zone, among other things by helping part of the municipalities to secure pre-financing.