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26th Feb 2024

Dutch goals for renewable energy criticised as unrealistic

  • Even a recently-announced plan for wind turbines in the North Sea will not be enough to reach 14 percent renewable energy in 2020 (Photo: European Community, 2005)

The feasibility of a Dutch agreement on energy that had been heralded as “an important step towards a cleaner future”, has been thrown into question a year after it was signed.

The 'Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth', presented in September last year, was a typically Dutch piece of cooperation between government, unions, employers and environmental organisations.

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However, the aim of achieving a 14 percent share of renewable energy by 2020, and 16 percent in 2023, is criticised as unrealistic in a leaked report by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and several other organisations.

The report will be released on Tuesday (7 October) but was published by RTLZ on Friday (3 October).

The “most plausible estimate” for 2020 is that 10.6 percent of Dutch energy will be from renewable sources.

If planned policy changes are implemented, the best case scenario will be 12.4 percent, one page from the leaked report said.

The 2023 goal will also not be reached easily: “In favourable conditions, the share can end up at 16 percent, but if there are setbacks, at 13 percent.”

In 2012, the share of renewable energy in the Netherlands was 4.5 percent according to Eurostat, well below the EU average of 14.1 percent. Only Malta, Luxembourg and the UK have lower shares.

The 14 percent goal is what the Netherlands should achieve if the European goal of 20 percent renewable energy in 2020 is to be met.

The leader of the social democrats in parliament, Diederik Samsom, said it would be “unacceptable” if the Energy Agreement targets aren't met.

“These goals are the absolute minimum. If they are in danger of not being achieved, we expect additional measures from the government”, Samsom wrote in a blog.

Samsom, an ex-Greenpeace activist, leads his centre-left party in a coalition government with the centre-right liberals of prime minister Mark Rutte. His party was criticised by his former employer on Friday (3 October) for not being ambitious enough.

During a debate in parliament last week, the social democrats did not support proposals from the opposition to try to achieve “ambitious” targets in climate negotiations later this month.

“The Netherlands is going to the climate negotiations in Brussels empty-handed”, Greenpeace Netherlands wrote.

October summit

Government leaders will discuss targets for 2030 in the negotiations, which should be concluded in Brussels on 23 and 24 October.

The European Commission hopes that the market share of renewable energy by that year will be 30 percent, but six Eastern and Central European states last week declared that such goals must be “realistic”.

Economic affairs minister Henk Kamp was criticised in the Lower House of the Dutch parliament last week for climate goals that are “too non-committal”.

If EU-wide targets are not translated into goals for individual member states, “they have a lot less chance of succeeding”, Green MP Liesbeth van Tongeren said in parliament.

Kamp denied being non-committal. He said the European Commission should “try to let all European countries do what is necessary to achieve the desired ambitious European contribution”.

Meanwhile, according to a report from the University of Vienna published Monday (6 October), the Netherlands is not the only country that will have difficulty reaching the 2020 targets.

The researchers write that half of the EU member states "will fail to meet their 20% Renewables target by 2020, as progress stands today".

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