Netherlands (2013)

Degree of reliance on imported energy: 

Oil demand in the Netherlands was roughly 1 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2010, with an import dependency of just over 96%. Since domestic oil production is in decline in the Netherlands, and the extension of output made possible by new upstream techniques is limited, the country will gradually move towards becoming fully import dependant in meeting its oil needs. In 2011, total imports (not including transit volumes) of crude oil and NGLs were nearly 60 million tonnes (Mt), or an average of 1.27 mb/d. Roughly a quarter of these imports were from the North Sea, a third from Russia and another third from OPEC member countries.

Since October 2009, the Netherlands is a net exporter of electricity, because in the last quarter of 2009 more electricity was exported than imported to and from the surrounding countries. This was triggered by lower electricity prices in the Netherlands and large-scale maintenance projects in neighbouring countries.

Main sources of Energy: 

In 2010 Dutch energy consumption was based mostly on fossil fuels, notably natural gas (with a share of 45.7% in the energy consumption mix), crude oil and petroleum products (40.8%), and to a lesser extent on solid fuels (8.8%). Renewable energy sources (RES) and nuclear energy were less important in the energy mix (with shares of 3.4% and 1.2%, respectively).

Natural gas consumption was approximately 49.4 bcm in 2010, according to Eurostat data. In 2010, the power generation (118.4 TWh) mix in the Netherlands was also dominated by gas-fired power generation (with a share of 65.5%) and by solid fuels (19.1%); RES represented 9.5% and other sources such as nuclear power (3.4%) were less important.

The Dutch renewable energy market has had a few challenging years. The share of final energy consumption from renewable energy sources (RES) grew from 1% to 4% between 1990 and 2011 due to the successful implementation of the MEP subsidy (Milieukwaliteit Elektriciteitsproductie subsidie) and the mandatory blending of biofuels in the transport sector. However, this growth stagnated in 2010/2011 when the effect of the reduction in the level of incentives materialised. A new renewable incentive scheme, Besluit Stimulering Duurzame Energieproductie, came into force in 2008, with the aim of encouraging investment in renewable energy projects in a more cost-effective way. This scheme was further amended in 2011. The subsidy has been a successful incentive to achieve the 2020- target. The budget has been increased significantly for 2013.

In September 2012 the Netherlands elected a new government. Its work programme aims to increase the share of renewables in energy consumption to 16% by 2020, where the target set for the Netherlands by the EU is 14%, and the previous government was aiming at 14.5%.



Extent of the network: 

The Netherlands has a well-developed electricity grid with respect to security of supply and cross border interconnections. Per year about 110 TWh of electrical energy is supplied in the Netherlands to end users through (non) public grids. Of this amount about 18 TWh is imported from neighbouring countries.

For a long time the Netherlands had only two interconnections with Belgium and three with Germany. However, TenneT has expanded this capacity to now include additional interconnections with the United Kingdom (via the 1,000 MW BritNed cable) and with Norway (via the 700 MW NorNed cable). Interconnection with Norway allows for better capacity utilisation because of the noncoincident peak demand periods of the two countries. Specifically, electricity consumption in Norway is relatively high at night time and so the Netherlands typically exports electricity to Norway during the night as it is cheaper and also allows Norway to save the water in its reservoirs for use during the day. In turn, Norway exports electricity to the Netherlands during the daytime peak hours, when electricity is expensive. Importantly, Dutch market parties are able to import renewable hydropower from Norway via the NorNed cable.

Capacity concerns: 

Due to the 20/20/20 and 2050 EU sustainability targets and the struggle for an internal electricity market per 2014, there is a larger social need for long distance transport within Europe and hence for more investment in interconnection capacity. At the same time, there is much uncertainty about the actual demand for interconnection capacity by grid users in time, particularly with regard to the amount and geographical location of new production capacity. On top of this, grid operators are facing uncertainty about the deployment of new grid technologies and the development of energy policy.

Potential for Renewable Energy: 


Solar energy in the Netherlands represents only a small proportion of sustainable energy consumption (1%). On the other hand, the Netherlands has considerable knowhow, and is sixth in the world for solar energy patent applications and supply components of solar cells for the foreign markets. Important cost savings can be achieved by making solar cells thinner or by using different materials. An international distinguishing feature of Dutch solar thermal products is the drainback technology that is applied, which has benefits of maintenance-free use, and insensitivity to frost and overheating.

Wind Energy

Wind energy accounts for more than 30% of all sustainable energy in the Netherlands. Wind energy is Dutch government’s most effective means of achieving sustainable energy production. The Netherlands are ranked fourth highest in Europe in terms of wind power production and has considerable wind energy expertise. Initially, wind farms were placed onshore, but since 2006, they can be found offshore as well. Offshore wind parks are clearly not economically feasible without governmental support. Nevertheless, wind parks on land can be economically feasible. All the initiators of the Q7 Amalia offshore wind park stated that building at sea is twice as expensive as on land. The Princess Amalia offshore wind farm is the largest of its kind in the world outside the 12-mile limit, and is also built in the deepest water.

Onshore wind energy will continue to be one of the cheapest ways of generating renewable energy in the years ahead. This energy option has a potential of approximately 48 PJ by 2020 (2.3 percentage points), equivalent to the output of wind farms with a total capacity of around 6,000 MW.


As biomass is envisaged to play a major role in fulfilling national targets concerning the reduction of CO2-emissions and the introduction of renewable energy sources, ambitious targets have been set. In the EOS-LT program, with respect to co-firing, 25% biomass co-firing (on energy basis) is foreseen for 2020, whereas in 2040 40% biomass co-firing should be realised. In the overall long-term vision of covering 30% of the total energy consumption of the Netherlands by biomass energy in 2040, and covering 20-45% of the feed-stock requirements of the chemical industry with biomass, large-scale import of biomass (either wood or grass-like) will be required. The Netherlands have a considerable domestic biomass potential. The domestic biomass potential, i.e. various waste streams adding up to approximately 100-120 PJ and theoretically another 50 PJ made by “energy farming”, might be converted through (de-central) small scale biomass plants. The domestic biomass potential, i.e. various waste streams adding up to approximately 100-120 PJ and theoretically another 50 PJ made by “energy farming”, might be converted through (de-central) small scale biomass plants.


Biofuel niche development in the Netherlands seems to be characterized by a dual track approach. A small PVO/biodiesel niche emerged, but this is not very visible. In order to comply with the EU directive on biofuels, setting a target for a 2% biofuel mix in 2005 and a 5.75% mix in 2010, the Dutch government chose for obliging oil companies to distribute an amount of biofuel equal to 2% of the total amount of transport fuel distributed, starting in 2007. The plan is to increase the amount of biofuel distribution successively. Moreover, there are hardly any filling stations providing pure, or high blend, biofuels in the Netherlands. The second research driven track focuses on advanced fuels, but this has not led to any large-scale experimentation. Advanced fuels remain a promise.


Despite its long interaction with water, the Netherlands has little potential for hydropower due to its flat topography. The Netherlands has a large resource of moving water in its major rivers but its limited hydraulic head because of little elevation change means that hydropower is a minor component of the country's renewable energy portfolio. A few small hydro plants exist but in total produce less than a tenth of a percent of the Netherlands' electricity.

Potential for Energy Efficiency: 

The industrial and transport sectors were both significant contributors to the Netherlands’ total final energy consumption, as of 2011 (21.6% and 19.5% respectively). Overall, efficiency gains in the transport sector have been slow to date, mainly due to the trend in freight transport of moving from large trucks to light vehicles. Passenger car efficiency has improved and is accelerating, however. Household and industry improvements since the first National Energy Efficiency Action Plan in 2009 have been above the European average, although transport improvements have been lower. Total final energy consumption has not changed significantly since 200, although the economic crisis of 2008 has had a notable impact on this, mostly in the industry and transport sectors. Overall, the greatest potential for savings in the Dutch economy can be found in the built environment, with approximately 140 PJ of total energy savings available by 2020. The manufacturing and transport sectors also have significant potential savings (75 PJ and 50 PJ, respectively).


The electricity market in the Netherlands began to de-regulate in 1998 with the establishment of both a regulatory body (DTe) and a transmission system operator (TenneT). The retail market underwent a staged opening, with large customers being able to choose a supplier in 1998, with the smallest customers following in 2004. All end-users are free to choose their electricity supplier.

Structure / extent of competition: 


The largest producers of electricity in the Netherlands are Essent, Nuon, Eneco, E.ON, Electrabel (part of GDF Suez) and Delta.  In respect of the supply of electricity to end-users, Eneco, Essent and Nuon are the largest players. Following the liberalisation of the Dutch energy market, these suppliers have lost market share to new entrants such as Electrabel, E.ON, DONG Energy, Oxxio, RWE and various smaller distribution companies. In 2009 Essent was acquired by RWE and Nuon was acquired by Vattenfall. In March 2011, Centrica sold Oxxio to Eneco.

Market concentration at retail level was high, as the three largest companies covered 80.3% of the retail market at the end of 2010.


The term Gasgebouw (Gas Building) is used for the partnership between the Gasgebouw parties: Maatschap Groningen, which is responsible for the production from the Groningen field and GasTerra, which sells the gas on behalf of Maatschap Groningen. NAM, a 50/50 joint venture between Shell and Exxon Mobil, holds the generation license for the Groningen field.  NAM supplies the gas to GasTerra.  The Gasgebouw parties dominate the Dutch gas market.  Gasterra is the major supplier of natural gas in the Netherlands (approx. 50%) and NAM is the largest gas producer. The small onshore and offshore fields are produced by NAM and by various other parties such as BP and Total.

Even though the market is fully liberalised in the Netherlands, market concentration at the retail level remained high, as the three largest companies covered 78.6% of the retail market at the end of 2010.

TenneT is the national TSO for the transmission of electricity and Gas Transport Services (GTS) is the TSO for gas. To date, both are fully owned by the Dutch state. The certification of these TSOs has not yet taken place, but they are both expected to apply for certification under the ownership unbundling model. The interconnectors, Britned and BBL, will also be certified as TSOs. At the end of 2010, all (except two) DSOs were fully unbundled from the integrated company and are mostly owned by Dutch municipalities and provinces. There are eight DSOs that supply gas and electricity and two which supply only gas. Due to a court decision, part of the law on unbundling of DSOs expired, leading the two integrated companies that were not yet unbundled to postpone their commitment to Unbundling. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation appealed to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands and a decision is pending. A request for a preliminary ruling has been addressed to the European Court of Justice.

Existence of an energy framework and programmes to promote sustainable energy: 

National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP)

The NREAP for the Netherlands was submitted in July 2010. The target according to Annex I of Directive 2009/28/EC is 14% for the year 2020 and the projected NREAP share in that year is 14.5%. In October 2012 a new coalition agreement was presented, in which the ambition for the Netherlands was increased to 16% (overall) renewable energy by the year 2020. According to the projection, the most important contribution in the year 2020 is expected from wind power (32.4 TWh or 2787 ktoe, 38% of all renewable energy). The second important contribution is expected from biomass (renewable heating and cooling) (1520 ktoe, 21% of all renewable energy). The third largest contribution is from biomass (renewable electricity) (16.6 TWh or 1431 ktoe, 19% of all renewable energy). Wind power contributes with 11.2 GW (32.4 TWh) in the year 2020 (onshore wind 6.0 GW and 13.4 TWh, offshore wind 5.2 GW and 19.0 TWh). For photovoltaic power the 2020 contribution is projected to be 0.7 GW (0.6 TWh). For solar thermal the 2020 contribution is projected to be 23 ktoe. The two most important biofuels are projected to contribute 552 ktoe (biodiesel) and 282 ktoe (bioethanol / bio-ETBE) by 2020. The renewable electricity production from solid biomass amounts to 12.0 TWh (1030 ktoe) and for biogas it is expected to be 4.7 TWh (401 ktoe). The consumption of renewable heat is expected to amount to 650 ktoe for solid biomass and 288 ktoe for biogas. A contribution of 582 ktoe is expected from bio-methane for grid feed-in by the year 2020.

National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP)

The Netherlands has adopted a National Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2008-2016 (NEEAP), which sets an energy  savings target of 51.2 TWh (or 4.4 Mtoe) by 2016 to be achieved in buildings, transport and small industries  (excluding sectors under ETS). The second NEEAP, submitted in mid-2011, stated that the country can expect to exceed this target by 45%.

Clean and Efficient Program

The Clean and Efficient Program, launched in 2007, aims to improve energy efficiency by 2%/year over the period 2011-2020 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020 compared with 1990. The program uses different measures to achieve its objectives, including energy efficiency standards.

SDE+ premium feed-in scheme

In the Netherlands, the main support instrument for renewable energy is the SDE+ premium feed-in scheme. This support scheme promotes renewable energy sources used for electricity, renewable gas and heating purposes. It encompasses a system of phased admission with escalating base tariffs, which favours low cost RES options. Besides the premium scheme, investments in renewable energy technologies are supported via loans and various tax benefits. Moreover, net-metering applies to small installations. Access of electricity from renewable energy sources to the grid shall be granted according to the principle of non-discrimination. Grid operators are generally obliged to develop the grid to provide sufficient capacity for the access and transmission of electricity.

Heat from renewable sources is promoted through a premium tariff (bonuses on top of the wholesale price) as well as tax benefits.

The Netherlands has adopted an obligation scheme which should result in a 10% RES share of energy consumption in the transport sector. Tax credits exist for biofuel and hydrogen related RES-T investments.

Regarding policies, the Dutch Energy Agency facilitates market parties and specific organisations to establish training and certification facilities for RES installers and installations. Innovation in energy is supported through innovation contracts between private companies, universities, R&D institutes. In the framework of the Energieinvesteringsaftrek, tax credits are available for RES-H infrastructure.

A biofuel obligation has been in place over the past few years, but the last year for which a mandatory biofuel quota is mentioned is 2010. Quotas for 2011-2014 are not mentioned in the NREAP, but are envisaged to increase slightly; this is yet to be decided by parliament.

For companies investing in renewable energy source (RES) projects, a tax relief (EIA) exists, which contributes substantially to the project’s economic viability. Annual budgets are limited and regularly exhausted for some technologies and underexploited for others.

The Green Deal

The Green Deal was presented on 3 October 2011. It constitutes an arrangement between the Dutch Government and society, namely citizens, enterprises, authorities and other organisations, and is designed to help them implement plans for achieving sustainability.

The Green Deal aims to eliminate obstacles, for example statutory and regulatory problems, ensure effective and objective information provision and bring about effective cooperation. In practice, simple solutions such as better cooperation between government and local enterprises often turn out to promote the implementation of new sustainable projects. The Green Deal covers specific projects in such areas as energy saving, sustainable energy, sustainable mobility and sustainable use of raw materials and water. The Dutch Government is set to conclude further Green Deals with society in the coming years. Citizens, enterprises, organisations and other authorities are asked to come up with new proposals by February 2012, with the themes covered being energy, raw materials, mobility and water.

Current energy debates or legislation: 

As the new Dutch government is considering deploying more offshore wind capacity, the lingering discussion on the offshore grid is flaring up. Major issues that need to be tackled are the responsibility over the grid (TSO or wind farm developers developers) and the way connections are to be paid for (through project development costs, and thus, through the support mechanism, via direct government intervention, therefore through taxes - or by the TSO, thus recovering costs via energy bills).

Major energy studies: 

European Energy Network

The Netherlands is member of the EnR, which is a voluntary network of European energy agencies which aims at promoting sustainable energy good and best practice. EnR also strengthens cooperation between members and other key European actors on all sustainable energy issues (energy efficiency, sustainable transport and renewable energy).

Role of government: 

Minister of Economic Affairs (EZ)

The Minister of Economic Affairs is responsible for the Dutch government’s energy policy. It promotes the Netherlands as a country of enterprise with a strong international competitive position and an eye for sustainability.

Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK)

One of the issues for this Ministry concerns energy saving in the built environment. The objectives of the related plan of action are to:

  • Contribute to the European objective of 20 % CO2 reduction by 2020 through energy savings in the built environment;
  • Use energy savings to give people more control over rises in living costs; and
  • Use energy savings as a boost to the construction industry.

Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (I&M)

The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment is committed to improving quality of life, access and mobility in a clean, safe and sustainable environment. Some relevant departments are the Directorate-General Environment and the Directorate-General Mobility. Also connected to this ministry is the Dutch Emission Authority (Nederlandse Emissieautoriteit).

Government agencies in sustainable energy: 

NL Agency, Energy and Climate Change section Agentschap NL

Stimulates international business and cooperation and a positive image of the Netherlands internationally and supports research programmes in energy. The NL Agency website provides a good overview of programmes, funding opportunities and incentives. Programmes focus on the bio-based economy, onshore wind energy, energy conservation, sustainable energy, heat and cold storage, and energy innovation.

Energy planning procedures: 

Offshore wind market

The next project to be completed will be Luchterduinen. Situated 12 miles off the coast near Noordwijk and Zandvoort, it is composed of 43 turbines, totalling 128 MW. It is expected that it will generate power as of 2015. Moreover, two projects north of the Netherlands with a total capacity of 600 MW have secured government support and the project developers expect to build these projects within two to three years. Further developments are also on the cards. The wind industry is compiling a plan for a test and demonstration site, known as Leeghwater, to be presented to the government. The 300 MW site would allow several test or demonstrate their innovations at the same time.

TenneT B.V, the Dutch transmission system operator, owns and operates the 480 kV and 220 kV grids, as well as the 150 kV grid in South Holland. The Dutch electricity act of 1998 stipulates that TenneT must provide the “most accurate possible estimates of the total capacity required for the transmission of electricity” once every two years. The national regulator, the Dutch Competition Authority, then receives this report. TenneT is also obliged to produce a quality and capacity plan with a time horizon of seven years to develop the network. In addition to these, the overall Vision 2030 for the Dutch transmission grid between 380 kV and 110 kV, as produced by TenneT, is taken into account when producing an overall network development plan. This responsibility lies with the Dutch government, which decides which projects are to be incorporated into the national Electricity Supply Structure Plan, which is produced by the government and implemented by the parastatal TenneT.

Energy regulator Date of creation: 

The Dutch Office of Energy Regulation, Energiekamer, is part of the Netherlands Competition Authority, Nederlandse Mededingingsautoriteit (NMa). The NMa is currently undergoing significant reform, incorporating also the Dutch telecoms and consumer authorities. Energiekamer which has been in operation since 1998 employed 80 staff in 2010 with an annual budget of approximately EUR 11.8 million.

Degree of independence: 

This body comes under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation and is part of the Dutch Competition Authority (NMa).

Regulatory framework for sustainable energy: 

The Dutch renewable energy support scheme, SDE, is operational since April 2008. For each category of renewable energy, the SDE sets a base rate making use of a private-sector financial analysis, given the duration of the subsidy. The feed-in premium varies as a result of annually determined correction values corresponding to the revenues from electricity (or heat) sales on the market. In other words, the annual SDE feed-in premium is equal to the base rate minus the electricity (or heat) price. This is the major difference between the SDE and the previous feed-in support scheme, MEP, as the latter was based on a fixed premium. Other important differences are that the SDE also includes green gas and (starting in 2012) renewable heat, and that the budget for renewable categories is capped. New categories in in the SDE+ 2013 are: deep geothermal below 2700 m, renovation of hydropower, bio-SNG production in sewage sludge purification plants and manure-only digesters for bio-SNG and biomass-CHP.

Regulatory roles: 

The Office of Energy Regulation safeguards general access to electricity and gas networks and ensures that the tariffs and conditions concerning access and transport set out by electricity and gas network operators are non-discriminatory. The Office of Energy Regulation also fixes annually the access and transport tariffs for regional electricity and gas network operators (DSOs).

Role of government department in energy regulation: 

The Ministry of Economic Affairs is responsible for a few key tasks regarding the regulation of energy, as advised by the Office of Energy Regulation, including the appointment of grid operators, and permits for suppliers of consumers who are not yet free to choose a supplier.

Regulatory barriers: 

Aside from the continuing Eurozone crisis and financing challenges and despite the CRA, the permitting procedures for renewable energy projects are still lengthy (including possible appeals, on average, an onshore wind farm can take up to 15 months to secure its required permits).


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