The Netherlands parliament building in the Hague is to be fitted with solar panels as part of a ten year scheme to convert the whole building to solar energy.

By the end of 2000 the panels will have been installed on the tiled roof of the building at a cost of in the region of $200 000. The home of the Netherlands parliament was built in stages between the 13th century and the 17th century.

Care has been taken to ensure that the additions do not affect the appearance of the picturesque building with its enclosed courtyard and outer moat. According to a spokeswoman for the parliament the solar panels will not be visible from the street.

The Netherlands does not initially appear an obvious site for solar generation. It experiences an average of 131 days of rainfall each year and skies are frequently overcast. Nevertheless the parliament is confident the project will succeed. Light sensors have already been installed in some rooms to cut electricity use.