Electricity sector in the Netherlands

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The total electricity consumption of the Netherlands in 2013 was 2,119 terawatt-hour (TWh). The consumption grew from 7 TWh in 1950, with an average of 4.5% per year.[1] As of 2012, the main resources for electricity in the Netherlands are fossil fuels, such as natural gas and coal. In 2012, fossil fuels accounted for 81% of the produced electricity.[1] Renewable energy sources, such as biomass, wind power and solar power, produce 12% of the total electricity.[1] There is one nuclear plant in the Netherlands, in Borssele, which is responsible for about 3.5% of total generation.[2] The majority of the electricity, more than 60%, is produced centrally by thermal and nuclear units.[1]

During 2005–2008 the Netherlands imported 13–15% of its electricity.[3] After 2008, however, the share of imported electricity went down drastically. In 2009, the Netherlands became a net exporter of electricity. Then, in 2011, the import balance increased again sharply.[1] This development continued in 2012 and 2013.[1] From 56,1 PJ in 2010, to almost twice the amount in 2015: 110,7 PJ.[4] The cause of the increase in electricity imports has to do with the development of energy prices. The natural gas price rose sharply in 2011 and 2012, the price of coal rose again in 2011, but fell sharply in 2012 and 2013. Additionally, the supply of cheap electricity in neighboring countries rose relatively strongly, which made imports more attractive.[1]

Before 1998 utilities were allowed to own an electricity network and sell the electricity at the same time. This gave companies that owned the network unfair advantages over companies that were only active in the retail of electricity. Therefore, in 1998, the electricity sector in the Netherlands was restructured with the introduction of the Electricity Act.[1] This Act demanded the decoupling between utilities and electricity supply. Generation and retail of electricity in the Netherlands were liberalized. However, the transmission and distribution were and are still centralized and operated by the system operator and the utilities. The system operator and utilities have a monopoly position in the energy market. Therefore, to guarantee the rights of consumers and businesses in the electricity sector, these parties have to be regulated.[1] To accomplish this, in 2013 the Authority for Consumers and Markets was founded.[5]

The system operator, TenneT, is the only stakeholder responsible for managing the high-voltage grid (between a voltage of 110 kV to 380 kV) in the Netherlands.[1] There are seven utility companies that own the regional energy grids: Cogas Infra en Beheer B.V., Enduris B.V., Enexis B.V.,Liander N.V., Stedin B.V. and Westland Infra Netbeheer B.V.[6]

Electricity per person and by power source[edit]

Electricity per person in the Netherlands (kWh/person) [7]
Use Production Import Imp. % Fossil Foss. % Nuclear Nuc. % Other RE Bio+waste Wind Non RE use* RE %
2004 7,189 6,194 995 13.8% 5,536 77% 235 3.3% 135 288 6,766 5.9%
2005 7,262 6,141 1,121 15.4% 5,333 73.4% 245 3.4% 150 412 6,700 7.7%
2006 7,345 6,282 1,063 14.5% 5,477 74.6% 255 3.5% 226 324 6,795 7.5%
2008 7,463 6,513 950 12.7% 5,590 74.9% 252 3.4% 275 396 6,792 9.0%
2009 7,073 6,777 296 4.2% 5,767 81.5% 254 3.6% 12* 465 278* 6,318 10.7%
* RE = Renewable energy. Other RE is waterpower, solar and geothermal electricity, and wind power until 2008
* Non RE use = use minus production of RE
* RE % = (production of RE / use) * 100% Note: European Union calculates the share of renewable energies in gross electrical consumption.

In 2008 the Netherlands consumed electricity in average 7,463 kWh/person that was equal to EU15 average (EU15: 7,409 kWh/person).[7] In 2014, this 6,713 kWh/person, which is a decrease of 10% compared to 2008.[8]

Coal-based power generation[edit]

The Netherlands has seven coal-fired plants.[9] Three new coal-fired plants were opened from 2015-2016, two in the Maasvlakte and one in the Eemshaven last year. 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 the first of July, 2017.[10] A discussion is taking place on what to do with the operational five coal-fired plants, 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.[11] The table shows an overview of the operational and recently closed/opened coal-fired power plants in the Netherlands, in 2017.[12][13][14][15]

Power plant Location Company Generation capacity Status
Amercentrale Geertruidenberg RWE/Essent 1,245 MW Closed since January 2016
Gelderland Nijmegen GDF Suez/Electrabel 590 MW Closed since January 2016
Borssele Borssele EPZ (Delta & RWE/Essent) 426 MW Closed since January 2016
Maasvlakte 1&2 Rotterdam E.ON 1,040 MW In use, will both closed July 2017
Hemweg 8 Amsterdam Vattenfall/Nuon 630 MW In use
Willem-Alexander Buggenum Vattenfall/Nuon 253 MW Closed in April 2013, demolished
Maasvlakte 3 Maasvlakte Uniper & Engie 1,080 MW Twin Units in use, opened in 2016
Eemshavencentrale Eemshaven RWE/Essent 1,560 MW In use, opened in 2015
Total 4,563 MW


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

According to IEA the electricity use (gross production + imports – exports – transmission/distribution losses) in 2008 in the Netherlands was 119 TWh.[16] In 2014, the electricity use decreased to 113 TWh.[17] 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 generates 9% of the total electricity power in the Netherlands – compared to the 3.9% in 2009.[1][18] The wind capacity installed at end 2010 will, in a normal wind year, produces 4,1% of the total electricity, while the equivalent value for Germany is 9,4%, Portugal 14%,[19] and Denmark 39% in 2014.[20]

The Netherlands has three connections with Germany and two with Belgium, both alternating current power lines.[1][21] Additionally, it has direct current (HVDC) submarine power cables to Norway (since 2008), the 700 MW NorNed cable, and one with England (since 2011), a 1,000 MW BritNed cable.[21][1] In the near future, a further internationalization of the electricity market is expected. TenneT aims to connect with Denmark, which would be a 700 MW cable.[1] Possibilities to connect wind farms to this cable are being looked into. In addition, a fourth connection with Germany is being realized.[1]

Global warming[edit]

The total emissions of carbon dioxide per capita in 2007 were 11,1 tons CO2. This compares to EU 27 average 7,9 tons CO2.[22] Emissions grew between 1990 and 2007 with 16,4%. However, compared between 2002 and 2012, the emission per capita had decreased with 6,1%, to 10,4 ton CO2.[23] Additionally, the IEA showed that for a longer time period, from 1990 to 2012, there is a decrease in emissions with 8%, while GDP grew by around 50% in this same period.[23] Emissions per capita in the OECD countries exceeded the Netherlands only in Czech Republic 11,8, Finland 12,2, Canada 17,4, Australia 18,8, USA 19,1 and Luxembourg 22,4.[22]

Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth[edit]

On the sixth of September 2013 representatives from the Dutch government, environmentalists and the energy sector – in total 47 different parties – signed the Energy Agreement.[24] This agreement contains plans for investing in energy conservation and renewable energy generation. It will deliver tens of thousands of new jobs, improve industry competitiveness and increase exports.[24] Additionally, the stakeholders agreed that 16% of the energy in 2023 should be generated by renewable energy.[24] Five coal-fired plants, which were built in the eighties, should be closed in 2016 and 2017. The other remaining five coal-fired plants would remain open and are used for co-firing of biomass, a 4 billion euro measure, which would contribute 1,2% of the total production of renewable energy.[25][26] This agreement was 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 was also supported by the main stakeholders.[27]

Resistance Energy Agreement[edit]

However, not everybody supported the Energy Agreement. Urgenda – an environmental organization – did not sign the agreement. According to Urgenda the agreement is a weak compromise without any sense of urgency, therefore they summoned the Dutch government on the 20th of November 2013.They accused the Dutch state of acting unlawfully by not contributing its proportional share to preventing global warming. The hearing of the case of Urgenda versus the Dutch government took place on 14 April 2015. Then, on 24 June 2015, the verdict came; Urgenda won the case. The Dutch government was required to take more effective climate action in reducing the Netherlands’ considerable share in global emissions. This was the first time that a judge had legally required a State to take precautions against climate change.[28] Even though, many politicians asked for action instead of delaying the transition to a more sustainable society, the government still goes in appeal against the verdict. The reason, according to the government, is that they question the way the court assessed their policy. They promised, however, that new measures to comply with the verdict would still be carried out. Also Urgenda described it a delaying tactic. Additionally, 28,000 citizens signed a petition that the government should accept the verdict and not go in appeal against it.[29]

Debate about closure of coal-firing plants[edit]

Then, in October 2015 the National Energy Exploration showed that the measures set by the agreement would fail in reaching the goals set by the Energy agreement. Many politicians lost their confidence in the agreement and demanded an additional set of measures.[26] In December 2015, the majority of the Dutch House of Representatives voted that all Dutch coal-firing plants should be closed in the nearby future. A policy contradiction was created; closing the additional coal-firing plants would simultaneously go against the Energy Agreement, because it would make the co-firing of biomass impossible. Additionally, three new coal plants were just finished and costed 1,5 billion euros each.[25] However, the politicians suggested to use the subsidies for co-firing biomass as compensation to close the new coal-firing plants. However, some politicians were against the plan, because they would be afraid that it would cost too many jobs.[26]

Since the motion of Urgenda, the Cabinet and other involved parties have been negotiating possible solutions. Nuon, the Dutch subsidiary of the Swedish company Vattenfall, which owns the Hemwegcentrale, stated to be open for discussion about the closure of the plant. Essent, the owner of Eemshavencentrale, on the other hand, sought the confrontation; they believed that the closure of the plants would only work counterproductive in reaching the energy goals. Minister Kamp, the minister of Economic Affairs, promised that in the autumn of 2016 a decision will be made by the Dutch government. This decision could lead to another large breakthrough in policies for the energy sector in the Netherlands.[30]

In January 2016, as planned, the three oldest coal-firing plants were closed, in Nijmegen, Borssele and Geertruidenberg. Two more closures are scheduled for the first of July in 2017: Maasvlakte I en II.[24]

Current status Energy Agreement debate[edit]

In the end of January, 2017, minister Kamp sent a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives, that no decision will be made by this cabinet on the closure of the remaining five coal plants. Instead of a concrete plan, the minister sent a study to the Lower House, which he had carried out by the German research agency Frontier Economics, as well as the final advice of the individual members of the advisory group with whom the minister had been constantly consulted on this matter. These include VNO-NCW, FNV, environmental organizations and the VEMW. They did not agree on a common position and hence the difficult issue of the coal-fired power stations will be passed over the elections, which took place the 15th of March, 2017.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o CBS. "Elektriciteit in Nederland". www.cbs.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-04-17.
  2. ^ Zaken, Ministerie van Algemene. "Opwekking kernenergie - Duurzame energie - Rijksoverheid.nl". www.rijksoverheid.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-04-17.
  3. ^ IEA Key stats 2010 pages 13
  4. ^ "CBS StatLine - Energiebalans; aanbod, omzetting en verbruik". statline.cbs.nl. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  5. ^ "The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets". www.acm.nl. Retrieved 2017-04-17.
  6. ^ "Overzicht regionale netbeheerders". www.acm.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-04-17.
  7. ^ a b 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 July 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 2007 T25 Archived July 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 2008 T26 Archived July 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 2009 T25 Archived January 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine and 2010 T49 Archived October 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "Electric power consumption (kWh per capita) | Data". data.worldbank.org. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  9. ^ Zaken, Ministerie van Economische. "Rijksoverheid stimuleert ontwikkeling bio-energie - Duurzame energie - Rijksoverheid.nl". www.rijksoverheid.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  10. ^ "Energieakkoord duurzame groei".
  11. ^ "Ondanks klimaatakkoord nieuwe kolencentrale, nog zonder CO2-afvang" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  12. ^ Govt. of Natherlands (1 July 2015). "Energy Consumption in Natherlands". Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  13. ^ Illa, doi (7 April 2007). "Energie Vergelijken - Uitgeroepen tot Beste Website 2015". www.pricewise.nl. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  14. ^ "Mega machine for Maasvlakte - Modern Power Systems". www.modernpowersystems.com. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  15. ^ "RWE AG - EEMSHAVENCENTRALE". www.rwe.com (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  16. ^ IEA Key stats 2010 pages 50 and 56
  17. ^ "IEA - Report". www.iea.org. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  18. ^ Energy in Sweden 2010, table: Specific electricity production per inhabitant with breakdown by power source Table 49 Archived October 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ Wind in power 2010 European statistics EWEA February 2011 page 11
  20. ^ Rasmussen, Jesper Nørskov. "Vindmøller slog rekord i 2014 " In English: New record for wind turbines in 2014. Energinet.dk, 6 January 2015. Accessed: 6 January 2015. Archived on 6 January 2015
  21. ^ a b "Doetinchem-Wesel". TenneT. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  22. ^ 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 October 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ a b "Energy Policies of IEA Countries: The Netherlands" (PDF). IEA. 2014.
  24. ^ a b c d Zaken, Ministerie van Economische. "Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth - Energy policy - Government.nl". www.government.nl. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  25. ^ a b Welssink (2015). "Tweede kamer stemt voor sluiting kolencentrales | Het Financieele Dagblad". fd.nl. Archived from the original on 2017-04-13. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  26. ^ a b c "Ed Nijpels: 'Onbestaanbaar dat VVD geen leiding neemt in milieudebat!'". Vrij Nederland (in Dutch). 2016-04-09. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  27. ^ "De herontdekking van de polder". De Groene Amsterdammer (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  28. ^ Mommers, Jelmer (2015-09-17). "De rechter verplichtte de staat tot meer klimaatactie. Wat is er met het vonnis gebeurd?". De Correspondent (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  29. ^ "Kabinet toetst klimaatvonnis Urgenda" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  30. ^ "Vervuilend of duurzaam, dat is de vraag". nrc.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  31. ^ "Kabinet neemt geen besluit meer over sluiting kolencentrales". nrc.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 2017-05-01.

External links[edit]