Going Places with Solar Panels
Bastiaan Henderik – Legal Counsel in the Legal DepartmentThe legal department is working hard on Growing a better world together. My short career at Rabobank proves it: I’ve worked at the Legal Retail department for just over a year and am already quite an expert in solar energy.
‘Farming businesses tend to have big barns and outbuildings on their land. These buildings have big roofs that are interesting to solar companies. They’re on the lookout for large surface areas on which to place solar panels. The solar companies sell the power they generate and the farmers receive a fee for the use of their roofs. In many cases the farmer can buy some of this green energy at a discount without having to make substantial investments in panels. So it’s a win-win-win situation. You just need to be sure that all the legal aspects are in order.’
‘Rabobank has 85% of all Dutch farmers on its books. In other words, the majority of farmers bank with us. So we are well placed to facilitate partnerships between farmers and solar companies. Several legal issues are involved, the most important of which is to ensure right of superficies, i.e. that the ownership rights of the property are separated from the ownership rights of the panels. In other words, the panels are always the property of the solar company. If a farmer goes into liquidation for instance, the solar company’s investment is not jeopardized.’
‘Each case needs a customized approach. To make sure we’ve covered all the risks we scrutinize the detail of every situation. At the same time, we want to boost the drive to more sustainability in the Netherlands. We are talking to a major solar company about the options to scale up this approach. We are working to produce a series of standard documents which can quickly be adapted to individual cases. And we are helping the Dutch Banking Association (NVB) to develop a standard contract template. This helps us to speed things up for farmers, help the solar companies accelerate their growth, make our own working practices more efficient, and help to boost green energy production.’
‘When you first start work at Rabobank, they don’t treat you like a baby. As a new member of the team you soon get down to serious work. They give you your own cases and trust you to get on with them. In other words, you’re taken seriously but you can always turn to your colleagues for help. This is a unique and very fast way to develop. In fact, depending on the type of cases you’re working on, you soon discover which focus areas resonate with you. That’s different for every member of the team. That’s how I ended up getting into solar panels.’
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‘Much as I love solar energy, I love variety too. After working intensively on these files for some time I felt the need to try something different. “No problem at all,” said my manager, so now I’m also working on Lease & Factoring and Customer Due Diligence (CDD). But I still work on solar panels as well, not least because my colleagues seek me out to ask questions. “What’s the latest on floating solar panels or panels in fields?” It’s great to be considered an expert after such a short time. What’s more, solar panels are going places, they’re literally and metaphorically full of energy. It feels good to be part of that.’