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Electricity sector in the Netherlands

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Three-circuit 380 kV double pylon of the Geertruidenberg–Eindhoven power line; west of Vloeiveldweg, Tilburg

The total electricity consumption of the Netherlands in 2021 was 117 terawatt-hours (TWh).[1] The consumption grew from 7 TWh in 1950 by an average of 4.5% per year.[2] In 2021, fossil fuels, such as natural gas and coal, accounted for around 62% of the total electricity produced.[1] Renewable energy sources, such as biomass, wind power, and solar power, produce 38% of the total electricity.[1] One nuclear plant in the Netherlands, in Borssele, is responsible for around 3% of total generation.[3] The majority of the electricity, more than 75%, is produced centrally by thermal and nuclear units.[1]

From 2005 to 2008, the Netherlands imported 13 - 15% of its electricity.[4] After 2008, however, the share of electricity imported decreased drastically meaning that in 2009, the Netherlands became a net exporter of electricity. However, in 2011, the Netherlands electricity import balance increased again sharply.[2] This development continued in 2012 and 2013.[2] From 56.1 PJ in 2010 to almost twice that amount in 2015, 110.7 PJ.[5] The cause of the increase in electricity imports was contributed to the development of energy prices. The price of natural gas rose sharply in 2011 and 2012, while the price of coal rose in 2011 but fell sharply in 2012 and 2013. Additionally, the supply of cheap electricity in neighbouring countries rose relatively strongly, which made imports more attractive.[2]

Before 1998, utility companies were allowed to own an electricity network and sell electricity simultaneously, which gave companies that owned the network unfair advantages over companies that were only active in retail sales of electricity. This prompted a restructuring of the electricity sector in the Netherlands with the introduction of the Electricity Act in 1998.[2] This Act demanded the decoupling of utilities and electricity supply. The generation and retail of electricity in the Netherlands were liberalized. However, transmission and distribution are still centralized and operated by the system operator and utilities. The system operator and utilities have a monopoly position in the energy market. Therefore, these parties have to be regulated to guarantee rights of consumers and businesses in the electricity sector.[2] The Authority for Consumers and Markets was founded in 2013.[6]

The system operator, TenneT, is the only stakeholder responsible for managing the high-voltage grid (between 110 kV and 380 kV) in the Netherlands.[2] Seven utility companies own the regional energy grids: Cogas Infra en Beheer, Enduris, Enexis, Liander, Stedin Netbeheer, and Westland Infra Netbeheer.[7]

Electricity by power source[edit]

Electricity supply and consumption in the Netherlands (GWh)[8]
Year Consumption Net Production Fossil Nuclear Biomass Wind Solar Other Import-Export Losses
1980 59626 62068 - - - - - - -307 2135
1985 63096 60581 - - - - - - 5127 2612
1990 75544 69403 - - - - - - 9206 3065
1995 85661 77746 - - - - - - 11391 3476
2000 100602 85768 - - - - - - 18916 4082
2005 110301 96484 - - - - - - 18295 4478
2010 112681 114369 - - - - - - 2776 4464
2015 109236 105752 87463 3862 4339 7550 1109 1430 8748 5264
2016 110538 111057 91882 3750 4296 8170 1602 1357 4915 5434
2017 111548 113456 91908 3223 3993 10569 2204 1559 3506 5414
2018 113477 110841 88754 3333 3906 10549 3708 592 7970 5334
2019 113662 117865 91620 3700 5067 11508 5399 570 855 5059
2020 112434 119838 83730 3865 7891 15278 8567 507 -2660 4744
2021 113616 118160 74942 3618 9817 17920 11304 559 253 4797
2022 108875 118010 66290 3930 8703 21401 17079 607 -4267 4869
2023 109274 119751 58277 3767 7147 28885 21173 502 -5659 4818
Dutch electricity by source in 2019

In 2008, the Netherlands consumed an average of 7,463 kWh per person, equal to the EU15 average of 7,409 kWh per person.[9] In 2014, this was 6,713 kWh per person, which is a decrease of 10% compared to 2008.[10]

The electricity generated by wind energy increased from 1990 to 2013 by an average of 19% per year to 2,713 MW. In 2013, wind energy generated 9% of the total electricity in the Netherlands, compared to 3.9% in 2009.[2][11] The wind capacity installed at the end of 2010 would produce 4.1% of the total electricity in a normal year, while the equivalent value for Germany was 9.4%, Portugal 14%,[12] and Denmark 39% in 2014.[13]

Coal-based power generation[edit]

The Netherlands has five coal-fired plants.[14] Three new coal-fired plants were opened in 2015–2016, two in the Maasvlakte and one in the Eemshaven. At the same time, three old plants were closed down in Nijmegen, Borssele, and Geertruidenberg. Additionally, two other plants (Maasvlakte I and II) are planned to be closed before July 1, 2017. A discussion is taking place on what to do with the five operational coal-fired plants and whether they should be closed down or not. However, according to the government, the remaining five plants should stay open because the Netherlands depends on the energy produced by these coal-fired plants.[15] The tables show an overview of the Netherlands' operational and recently closed/opened coal-fired power plants.[16][17][18]


Power plant Location Company Generation capacity Status
Amercentrale (Unit 9) Geertruidenberg RWE (RWE Generation NL) 600 MW Opened in 1993
Maasvlakte 3 Maasvlakte Uniper & Engie 1,070 MW Opened in 2016
Eemshaven Eemshaven RWE (RWE Generation NL) 1,560 MW
(2 units)
Opened in 2015
Onyx Rotterdam Riverstone 731 MW Opened in 2015
Total 3,961 MW


Power plant Location Company Generation capacity Status
Hemweg 8 Amsterdam Vattenfall 650 MW Closed in December 2019[19]
Amercentrale (Unit 8) Geertruidenberg RWE/Essent 645 MW Closed in January 2016
Gelderland Nijmegen Engie/Electrabel 590 MW Closed in January 2016
Borssele Borssele EPZ (Delta & RWE/Essent) 426 MW Closed in January 2016
Maasvlakte 1&2 Rotterdam E.ON 1,040 MW Closed
Replaced by Maasvlakte 3
Willem-Alexander Buggenum Vattenfall 253 MW Closed in April 2013
Total 3,604 MW

Electricity Use[edit]

External images
image icon TenneT grid map, small
image icon TenneT grid map, large (PDF) Archive

According to the IEA, the total electricity use (gross production + imports + exports + transmission/distribution losses) in the Netherlands in 2008, was 119 TWh.[20] In 2014, electricity use had decreased to 113 TWh.[21] The total electricity consumption in 2021 had risen again to 117 terawatt-hours (TWh).[1]

The Netherlands has three electricity import/export connections with Germany and two with Belgium, both alternating current power lines.[2][22] Additionally, it has direct current (HVDC) submarine power cables to Norway (the 700 MW NorNed cable since 2008), England (the 1,000 MW BritNed cable since 2011),[22][2] and Denmark (the 700 MW COBRAcable cable since 2019). In addition, a fourth connection with Germany is being realized.[2] A 24 MW / 48 MWh grid battery will open in 2022.[23]

Carbon dioxide emissions[edit]

The total emissions of carbon dioxide per capita in the Netherlands in 2007, were 11.1 tons. This is compared to the EU27 average of 7.9 tons CO2.[24] Emissions per capita in the OECD countries exceeded the Netherlands only in the Czech Republic (11.8), Finland (12.2), Canada (17.4), Australia (18.8), the United States (19.1), and Luxembourg (22.4).[24]

Emissions grew by 16.4% between 1990 and 2007, though between 2002 and 2012, the emission per capita decreased by 6.1% to 10.4 tons of CO2.[25] The IEA showed that for a longer time period, from 1990 to 2012, there had been an overall reduction in emissions of 8%, while GDP grew by around 50% in this same period.[25]

Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth[edit]

In September 2013, representatives from the Dutch government, environmentalists, and the energy sector, representing 47 different parties, signed the Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth.[26] This agreement contained plans for investing in energy conservation and renewable energy generation, and was projected to deliver tens of thousands of new jobs, improve industry competitiveness, and increase exports.[26] The stakeholders had agreed that 16% of the energy would be generated by renewable energy sources in 2023[26] and five coal-fired plants built in the 1980s would be closed in 2016 and 2017. The other remaining five coal-fired plants would remain open and be used for co-firing biomass, a 4 billion euro measure that would contribute 1.2% of the total planned production of renewable energy.[27][28] This agreement was seen as a major breakthrough in the debate about climate change in the Netherlands because it not only provided a clear set of policies for sustainable growth but also gathered support from all main stakeholders.[29]

Resistance to the Energy Agreement[edit]

The Energy Agreement did not find unanimous support. The foundation, Urgenda, an environmental organisation, did not sign the agreement. Urgenda, alleged, the agreement was a weak compromise without any sense of urgency and sued the Dutch government on these grounds on November 20, 2013, thereby originating the case State of the Netherlands v. Urgenda Foundation. They alleged the Dutch state acted unlawfully by not contributing its proportional share to prevent global warming and won the case. This forced the Dutch government to take further action to reduce the Netherlands’ share of global emissions. This was the first time that a judge had legally required a State to take precautions against climate change.[30]

Although many politicians supported the decision, the government appealed the verdict on the grounds that they questioned the way the court assessed their policy. They still promised, however, that new measures to comply with the verdict would be carried out. Urgenda described the appeal as a delaying tactic and 28,000 citizens signed a petition urging the government to accept the verdict rather than appeal.[31]

Debate about closure of coal-firing plants[edit]

In October 2015, many politicians lost confidence in the agreement and demanded an additional set of measures when evidence emerged that the Energy Agreement's measures could not achieve their intended goals.[28] In December 2015, a majority of the House of Representatives supported closing all Dutch coal-firing plants in the near future, and this implied a policy contradiction: closing the additional coal-firing plants would interfere with the execution of the Energy Agreement because it would end the co-firing of biomass. Additionally, three new coal plants were just finished and cost 1.5 billion euros each.[27] Some politicians suggested to redirect the initial subsidies for co-firing biomass into compensation to close the new coal-firing plants, while others opposed the plan because they were afraid that it would cost too many jobs.[28]

Nuon, the Dutch subsidiary of the Swedish company Vattenfall, which owns the Hemwegcentrale, stated that it was open to discussion about the closure of the plant. Essent, the owner of Eemshavencentrale, on the other hand, believed that the closure of the plants would only work counterproductively in reaching the energy goals. Henk Kamp, the Minister of Economic Affairs, promised that the Dutch government would make a decision by the autumn of 2016.[32]

In January 2016, as planned, the three oldest coal-firing plants were closed in Nijmegen, Borssele and Geertruidenberg. Two more closures were scheduled for July 1 July 2017: Maasvlakte I and II.[26]

2017 Energy Agreement debate[edit]

At the end of January 2017, Minister Kamp sent a letter to the House of Representatives saying that no decision would be made by the incumbent government on the closure of the remaining five coal plants. Instead of a concrete plan, the minister sent a study by the German research agency Frontier Economics to the House as well as the final advice of the individual members of the advisory group with whom the minister had consulted on this matter. These advisory group members included the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers, the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions, environmental organisations, and the Dutch industrial energy consumer lobby VEMW. They did not agree on a common position, and hence the difficult issue of the coal-fired power stations would be passed over during the elections of March 15 March 2017.[33]

2018 ban on coal-fired power plants[edit]

On 18 May 2018, Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Eric Wiebes announced that the Netherlands would ban the use of coal in electricity generation by the end of 2029. Two of the five remaining coal-fired plants (Amercentrale Unit 9 & Hemweg 8) would have to shut down at the end of 2024 unless they switched primary fuels.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The Netherlands - Countries & Regions". IEA. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k CBS. "Elektriciteit in Nederland". www.cbs.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  3. ^ Zaken, Ministerie van Algemene. "Opwekking kernenergie – Duurzame energie – Rijksoverheid.nl". www.rijksoverheid.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  4. ^ IEA Key stats 2010 pages 13
  5. ^ "CBS StatLine – Energiebalans; aanbod, omzetting en verbruik". statline.cbs.nl. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  6. ^ "The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets". www.acm.nl. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  7. ^ "Overzicht regionale netbeheerders". www.acm.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Electricity balance sheet; supply and consumption". opendata.cbs.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  9. ^ Energy in Sweden, Facts and figures, The Swedish Energy Agency, (in Swedish: Energiläget i siffror), Table: Specific electricity production per inhabitant with breakdown by power source (kWh/person), Source: IEA/OECD 2006 T23 Archived 4 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, 2007 T25 Archived 4 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, 2008 T26 Archived 4 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, 2009 T25 Archived 20 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine and 2010 T49 Archived 16 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "Electric power consumption (kWh per capita) | Data". data.worldbank.org. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  11. ^ Energy in Sweden 2010, table: Specific electricity production per inhabitant with breakdown by power source Table 49 Archived 16 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ Wind in power 2010 European statistics Archived 2011-04-07 at the Wayback Machine EWEA February 2011 page 11
  13. ^ Rasmussen, Jesper Nørskov. "Vindmøller slog rekord i 2014 Archived 2015-01-06 at the Wayback Machine " In English: New record for wind turbines in 2014. Energinet.dk, 6 January 2015. Accessed: 6 January 2015. Archived on 6 January 2015
  14. ^ Zaken, Ministerie van Economische (27 January 2017). "Rijksoverheid stimuleert ontwikkeling bio-energie – Duurzame energie – Rijksoverheid.nl". www.rijksoverheid.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  15. ^ "Ondanks klimaatakkoord nieuwe kolencentrale, nog zonder CO2-afvang" (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  16. ^ Govt. of Natherlands (1 July 2015). "Energy Consumption in Natherlands". Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  17. ^ "Mega machine for Maasvlakte – Modern Power Systems". www.modernpowersystems.com. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  18. ^ "RWE AG – EEMSHAVENCENTRALE". www.rwe.com (in Dutch). Archived from the original on 7 September 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  19. ^ Lefteris Karagiannopoulos (8 March 2019). "Dutch government tells Vattenfall to shut 650 MW coal plant by end-2019". reuters.com. Reuters. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
  20. ^ IEA Key stats 2010 pages 50 and 56
  21. ^ "IEA – Report". www.iea.org. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  22. ^ a b "Doetinchem-Wesel". TenneT. Archived from the original on 11 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  23. ^ Murray, Cameron (10 October 2022). "Biggest battery storage system inaugurated in the Netherlands". Energy Storage News.
  24. ^ a b Energy in Sweden 2010, Table 1: Emissions of carbon dioxide in total, per capita and per GDP in EU and OECD countries, 2007 2010 Table 1 Archived 16 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ a b "Energy Policies of IEA Countries: The Netherlands" (PDF). IEA. 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 July 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  26. ^ a b c d Zaken, Ministerie van Economische. "Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth – Energy policy – Government.nl". www.government.nl. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  27. ^ a b Welssink (2015). "Tweede kamer stemt voor sluiting kolencentrales | Het Financieele Dagblad". fd.nl. Archived from the original on 13 April 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  28. ^ a b c "Ed Nijpels: 'Onbestaanbaar dat VVD geen leiding neemt in milieudebat!'". Vrij Nederland (in Dutch). 9 April 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  29. ^ "De herontdekking van de polder". De Groene Amsterdammer (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  30. ^ Mommers, Jelmer (17 September 2015). "De rechter verplichtte de staat tot meer klimaatactie. Wat is er met het vonnis gebeurd?". De Correspondent (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  31. ^ "Kabinet toetst klimaatvonnis Urgenda" (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  32. ^ "Vervuilend of duurzaam, dat is de vraag". nrc.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  33. ^ "Kabinet neemt geen besluit meer over sluiting kolencentrales". nrc.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  34. ^ Bart H. Meijer (18 May 2018). "Netherlands to ban coal-fired power plants in blow to RWE". reuters.com. Reuters. Retrieved 14 October 2019.[dead link]

External links[edit]