IEA (2020), The Netherlands 2020, IEA, Paris

IEA (2020), The Netherlands 2020, IEA, Paris

The Netherlands 2020

  • Executive summary

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In this report

The IEA regularly conducts in-depth peer reviews of the energy policies of its member countries. This process supports energy policy development and encourages the exchange of best practices and experiences to help drive secure and affordable energy transitions.

The Netherlands is aiming for a rapid transition to a carbon-neutral economy that supports strong economic growth and energy security. To drive this transition, the government’s energy and climate policy focuses on bringing down greenhouse gas emissions, with targets to reduce them by 49% by 2030 and by 95% by 2050, compared with 1990 levels. The country’s 2019 Climate Agreement defines policies and measures to support the achievement of these emissions reductions and was developed through a collaborative process involving parties from across Dutch society.

The Netherlands has made notable progress on its transition to a carbon-neutral economy. Thanks to increasing energy efficiency, energy demand shows signs of decoupling from economic growth. In addition, the share of energy from renewable sources doubled between 2008 and 2019. However, the Netherlands remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels and has a concentration of energy- and emission-intensive industries that will be hard to decarbonise. In this report, the IEA provides a range of energy policy recommendations to help the Netherlands smoothly manage the transition to an efficient and flexible carbon-neutral energy system.

Executive summary

The Netherlands is aiming for a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy and has placed ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets at the centre of energy and climate policy. The 2019 Climate Act sets targets to reduce GHG emissions by 49% by 2030 and by 95% by 2050 (versus 1990 levels). The Netherlands has developed a detailed policy framework to drive the achievement of these targets. The core of this framework is the 2019 Climate Agreement, which was developed using the collaborative Dutch Polder system. Over 100 stakeholders from across society contributed to developing the 2019 Climate Agreement, which contains emissions reductions targets and measures in five sectors: electricity, industry, the built environment, mobility, and agriculture and the natural environment.

From 2008 to 2018, the population of the Netherlands increased by 5% and gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 9%. Over the same period, energy demand declined by 5% thanks in part to a 15% improvement in the energy efficiency of the economy. The Netherlands has also achieved notable reductions in GHG emissions. In 2018, GHG emissions were down 15% from 1990 levels. The Netherlands is home to a large concentration of energy and emission-intensive industries and remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels. From 2008 to 2018, the share of fossil fuels in total primary energy supply (TPES) declined only slightly, from 92% to 90%. As a result, a recent increase in economic activity has caused emissions reductions to stall. In 2018, energy-related GHG emissions were slightly higher than in 2014.

The Netherlands is also facing new energy security challenges. Natural gas is the largest source of domestic energy production and a key fuel for industry and for building heating. The Groningen gas field, located in the northeast of the Netherlands, is one of the largest gas fields in the world and was historically the main source of domestic gas production. In , natural gas production activities in the Groningen field cuased eathquakes that damaged over 10 000 buildings and resulted in strong public and political pressure to end gas production from Groningen as soon as possible. In response, the Dutch Cabinet issued that aim to end gas production from Groningen by mid?2022, while ensuring security of gas supply by reducing gas demand and increasing the availablitiy of gas from sources other than Groningen. From 2013 to 2018, domestic gas production fell by 55% and energy import dependency increased from 29% to 72%. Because of steady demand for natural gas and falling domestic gas supply, the Netherlands became a net gas importer for the first time in 2018.