The Netherlands wants to stimulate the use of wind power, biomass and other forms of renewable energy. That is good for the environment and reduces Dutch dependence on fossil fuels.
The target is 14% sustainable energy by 2020. In order to become a low-carbon economy in the longer term (2050), the Government is promoting innovation in the field of sustainable energy technology.
From 4% to 14% sustainable energy
In 2010 renewable energy accounted for just 4% of total Dutch energy consumption. In 2020 this percentage must have risen to 14. This increase must however take place in a economically responsible manner, according to the Dutch Government, and must not result in excessive costs. Innovation is necessary to enable renewables to compete with grey energy in the long term (2050 onwards). The Government wishes to help, not by offering expensive and ineffective operating grants, but by promoting innovation, among other things through the renewable energy incentive scheme (SDE+).
Sustainable energy in the Netherlands
The main types of renewable energy in the Netherlands are wind, solar, biofuel and geothermal. Three sustainable energy sources seem to have the best credentials for future prospects for a sustainable Dutch energy supply: bio-fuels, and onshore and offshore wind power.
Bio-energy is energy generated from organic material (biomass). Biomass can be used as a raw material for the production of renewable electricity, green gas, renewable heat and biofuel for vehicles. It is important that the biomass really is sustainable, which is to say that it does not compete with the production of food crops.
By using or reusing more biomass the Netherlands can reduce its dependence on oil and gas and reduce CO2 emissions.
Biomass currently accounts for around 62% of sustainable energy production in the Netherlands. The Government believes the Netherlands can become a world centre for sustainable biomass applications, in the chemical and energy sectors, for example.
Biofuels for road transport
The petrol currently available at the pump already contains a few percent of biofuel. This must increase to 10% by 2020, following the European Directive on Renewable Energy. This 10% may also be supplemented with other forms of renewable energy, such as sustainably generated electricity or biogas. The Netherlands has opted to gradually increase the percentage of biofuel at the pump over the coming years: a quarter percent in 2011 and 2012, and a half percent in 2013 and 2014. This provides more time to develop even more sustainable (second generation) biofuels (based on waste materials). At the same time the Government is promoting electric vehicles: by 2025 it hopes there will be a million electric cars on Dutch roads.
In the coming years onshore wind will remain one of the most inexpensive ways of producing renewable energy. The Dutch target is 6000 megawatts installed power capacity from onshore wind turbines by 2020. Currently we have 2000 onshore wind turbines, providing only 4% of the total Dutch electricity requirement.
The Netherlands' flat and windswept countryside make it highly suitable for wind energy. The Government wants to greatly increase wind energy capacity in the coming years. Government policy increasingly aims for groups of wind turbines on carefully selected sites. Open landscapes where there is plenty of strong wind therefore take precedence (industrial and port areas, agricultural complexes, open water).
Two large windfarms are currently being developed in Flevoland (Zuidlob, link) and in the Noordoostpolder (NOP, link). The wind farm in the Noordoostpolder can supply 400,000 households (almost a million people) with electricity. This makes it by far the largest and most productive wind farm in the Netherlands.
Offshore wind energy is still too expensive to play a significant role in our energy supply. This may change in the future, as innovation can greatly drive down costs.
There are currently two Dutch offshore wind farms, producing a total of 228 megawatts:
- The Near Shore Windpark lies off the coast of Egmond aan Zee. It has 36 turbines and a total output of 108 megawatt.
- The Prinses Amalia windfarm lies off IJmuiden, with 60 turbines and a total output of 120 megawatts.
The Netherlands has applied to the European Commission for a subsidy to develop an innovative offshore windfarm to serve as a test site. The FLOW-programme is another testing ground for innovative foundation techniques for wind turbines and other innovations in the North Sea.
European agreements on energy incentives
The Netherlands considers that EU Member States should not use subsidies to compete with each other in the production of renewable energy. Each country should play to its own strengths. Wind energy should be used on sites with constant strong winds, solar in places with many hours of sunshine. Over time this will be the most economically beneficial solution for Europe. The Government is therefore campaigning for European agreements on renewable energy incentives.
More renewable energy
The Rutte-Asscher government wants businesses and the public to use more renewable energy. In 2010 the share of sustainable or renewable energy in national energy consumption was 4%; our target is a 16% share for renewables by 2020. These measures will be taken with due regard for the competitiveness of energy-intensive sectors and the impact on jobs.