The Netherlands (also known as Holland in some languages, English inclusive) is known for its windmills and tulips. Its capital, Amsterdam, is a place to reckon. However, other things that make the Netherlands popular are heavily reliant on energy. As the second-largest exporter of food and beer, there are many energy-consuming set-ups. Also, there is the need to keep factories and homes up and running.
The energy sector in the Netherlands bases majorly on natural gas and oil. As of 2018, the contributions to energy generation were: 42% from natural gas, 37% from petrol, 11% from coal, 5% from biomass, and the remaining 5% shared among solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal and nuclear sources. The reliability of these sources over time seems to make them seem supposedly sustainable. However, global warming, earthquakes while producing natural gas, and climate change are still of great concern.
How far the Netherlands have come in Renewable Energy
One limiting factor to the progress in adopting renewable energy in the Netherlands is the topography. The Netherlands in its entirety is not below sea level, but a significant part of it is. This geographical situation is not welcoming to the use of hydropower.
Also, many government subsidies to invest in renewable energy existing in other countries like Denmark and Germany are not in the Netherlands. The start-up cost for renewable energy projects is high, so not many Dutch people are encouraged to go into it.
However, the status of renewable energy generation and usage in the Netherlands has recorded some progress. The amount of energy produced from renewable energy sources in the Netherlands increased from 6.6% in 2017 to 7.38% in 2018 and 8.6% in 2019. Nevertheless, the targets are still far off.
Policies Affecting the Growth of RE in the Netherlands
The law in the Netherlands has expressed concern over the light level of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. The Climate Act aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands by 49% by 2030 and 95% by 2050. For this to be met, some projects are ongoing, majorly for offshore wind turbine applications. Also, the Dutch government policy on renewable energy includes a plan to close the only nuclear power plant in the Netherlands by 2024.
Lately, countries in Europe have started to work towards meeting the goals for renewable energy development. The Renewable Energy Directive in the European Union was formerly to the end that by 2020, the final energy consumption of countries in the EU would be up to 20% renewable. However, can we confidently say the same motivation pushes the Netherlands?
The target by the European Union in 2018 was to have up to 32% of total energy from renewable sources in all its member state countries by 2030. Unfortunately, the Netherlands has not attained its share. In 2017, the Netherlands produced 6.6% of its total energy from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind turbines. The target at that time was 14%, so the Netherlands failed to meet it.
Ongoing Renewable Energy Projects in the Netherlands
Even though the Netherlands is not on track for its renewable energy goals, it has started making plans to eliminate natural gas production and consumption. These plans favour the development of renewable energy. The most popular projects in the Netherlands are the offshore wind turbine projects, before solar projects. We will discuss some examples below.
- The first large-scale wind farm in the Netherlands is being revamped. Egmond aan Zee offshore wind farm is the wind farm in question. Commissioned 15 years ago (2006), it started with only a capacity of 108 MW as a demonstration project and was the first large-scale wind farm project in the Netherlands. BlackRock Real Assets closed a 4.8 billion dollars investment fund for renewable power early this year, and some of it has sponsored other projects. A part of the fund, as well, would be used to refurbish this wind farm of NoordzeeWind (owned by Shell). Once completed, it has the potential to boost the use of renewable power in the Netherlands.
- Borssele 1 and 2 is Ørsted’s first offshore wind farm in the Netherlands and is located on the Dutch North Sea. It has a capacity of 752 MW and is, therefore, the largest wind farm in the Netherlands. A highlight of this project is that its completion was in 2020, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the CEO of Ørsted, it is an achievement. This project has enough power for 1 million Dutch homes.
- The collaboration between Kronos Solar Projects and Greencells in the Netherlands is currently beginning to expand. The partnership has started a new 14 MW solar project at Voorst in the second quarter of this year (2021). Greencells has been actively working in the Netherlands since 2018. The company has completed up to 332 MW projects individually and with other collaborators. Kronos Solar Projects are also renowned for its investments in solar projects up to 290 MW in more than one country.
Experts’ Projections on RE in the Netherlands
The experts have it that the total share of renewable energy that was 8.7% in 2019 would eventually increase to 25% in 2030. In the same way, experts expect that the 18% share of renewable electricity in 2019 would have increased to 75% by 2030. However, the expectation for the renewable share of energy used for heating should move only from 7% in 2019 to 13% in 2030.
Also, the growth in the renewable energy market has to take a good turn. This is because the prices of renewable energy are steadily decreasing. This decrease is likely to keep the renewable energy market sustained even without the government’s input. For example, biomass used to take up to 60.7% of the renewable energy usage in the Netherlands. However, recent investments and projects by Vattenfall, Siemens, and the likes in wind energy projects should turn things around.
As the Netherlands has shown an increasing dependence on natural gas, it shows that the country needs more and more energy sources. The Netherlands used to be a reliable exporter of natural gas decades ago but has become an importer. As developments begin to increase, the pollution of the atmosphere with emissions is also increasing. Therefore, the Climate Agreement Policies need to be looked into further.