Energy in the Netherlands: Optimized pathways to CO2 reduction in the Dutch context

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The report has not only taken into account the energy use by the power sector, but also other energy-intensive sectors such as buildings, industry, agriculture and transport. The Dutch starting position for CO2 reduction is excellent. However, the costs will rise considerably, the later the Netherlands start implementing mitigation measures.

This document reports the findings of research undertaken by the Energy Forum NL (EFNL) which consists of companies active in different parts of the energy sector. The group strives for a more long-term, stable energy policy and investment climate in the Netherlands, one that will help realize overall climate ambitions. This report is part of the group’s contribution to the energy debate in the Netherlands; it lays out a fact-based, objective analysis of the potential energy mix if one assumes a continued focus on carbon abatement.

In this report, the Energy Forum NL provides pathways that show how the Netherlands can best contribute to the EU target of 80% CO2e emission reduction by 2050 compared to 1990. They particularly focus on the goal for the next 20 years: reducing CO2e emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990.

The report assumes a pan-European approach for the power sector, which is the key sector in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS); in this case, Dutch abatement options “compete” with those in other EU countries. For the other sectors it uses a national approach. Non-cost factors, such as ease of implementation (technological and societal), have been taken into account but not to the same degree as costs.

The Netherlands can achieve the derived EU CO2e emission reduction objective of 40% in 2030 versus 1990 levels, as well as the 2050 target of 80% emission reduction. How it will do so, while minimizing costs, greatly depends on the way the EU will implement its targets.

Key messages emerging from the study are:

  • „„Actual emissions in the Netherlands declined 3% between 1990 and 2010. If no further abatement action is taken (the so-called “Business as Usual”, or BAU pathway), total emissions in 2030 would increase 11% compared to 1990.
  • Reaching the EU ambition of 40% reduction by 2030 compared to 1990 levels is technically possible but will require implementation of almost all currently available and developing technologies as well as increases in energy efficiency. Several routes are possible to achieve this, but each demands additional investments beyond the BAU and a substantial acceleration of current efforts.
  • The Netherlands is well positioned to lead the implementation and/or further commercialization of several abatement technologies. These include: biomass; wind off-shore; decentralized heat and cold storage; gas-based decentralized power generation; Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS); hydrogen; and adoption of electric vehicles. In all the explored pathways, gas will continue to play a pivotal role in the residential sector ( through current and innovative technologies), the industrial sector, and the power sector (e.g., as base load and a balance for intermittent renewable sources). It could also grow in the road and marine transport sector.
  • The costs to Dutch society and routes to implementation vary substantially between the different options. Compared to BAU, the total additional cumulative cost to society in terms of investments and running costs is €10-30 bn for the period 2010-2030 (€20-50 bn when excluding CO2 costs in both BAU and the abatement pathway2). These numbers would translate to an increase of €50-185/yr per household including CO2 costs.
  • Given the long-term, capital-intensive nature of many energy investments, a stable, long-term policy framework for investments and planning will be indispensible to achieve the targeted abatement across all sectors.