The Netherlands Set to Miss Renewable Energy Targets

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The Netherlands Set to Miss Renewable Energy Targets

Under the current policy the share of renewable energy in the Netherlands is set to rise from 4% in 2010 to 7-10% in 2020. Although this is a strong increase, it is not enough to achieve the European target of 14% by 2020.

Even with the measures proposed by the Rutte government and the agreements arrived at in the spring (Lenteakkoord), this 14% target is not going to be achieved. On the other hand, the Netherlands will probably be able to meet the targets for greenhouse emissions until 2020. Emissions of the main air pollutants will also be below the European emissions ceiling by 2020. If Europe wants to achieve a 40% reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases by 2030, additional climate policy will probably be required in the Netherlands.

These are some of the conclusions of a report published today by PBL and ECN, titled Referentieraming energie en emissies: actualisatie 2012 (Reference estimate on energy and emissions: 2012 update).

The ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment commissioned the research, which looks at the progress made with regard to climate, air and energy. Based on recent insights into economic developments and energy prices, PBL and ECN have produced a new estimate for 2020, also providing a glimpse of what we can expect in 2030. The calculations are based on the current policy of the Rutte government, but also take into account proposed policy measures and the agreements made by five political parties in the spring (Lenteakkoord), aimed at reducing the budget deficit. This report is an updated version of the PBL and ECN report Referentieraming energie en emissies 2010-2020, published in 2010.

 Share of renewable energy in 2020 falls short of European target

The expectations are that, if the policy that has been agreed on is carried out, the share of renewable energy will increase from 4% currently to 8% in 2020 (with a margin between 7% and 10%). This growth is mainly due to increased production of wind energy, more use of biofuels in the transport sector and increasing application of sustainable heating. If the Lenteakkoord is implemented, the use of renewable energy will rise to 9%, due to a slightly larger use of biogas, within a comparable margin. If the measures that are currently proposed are carried out, which means, among other things, that coal-fired power stations will include a 20% share of biomass in their fuel and the capacity for wind-energy on land will be further extended, the share will rise to 11% (within a uncertainty margin of 9% to 12%).

 Lenteakkoord will chiefly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the energy sector

If the Lenteakkoord, in which five political parties agreed on the national budget for 2013, is implemented, this will result in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This reduction will take place above all in the energy sector, as a result of the scrapping of the coal-tax exemption for electricity generation. Traffic emissions will fall as a result of a restriction of the tax-reduction mobility schemes.

 Emissions of greenhouse gases and most air pollutants under European emission ceiling

The European system for emissions trading (ETS) limits emissions of greenhouse gases by large companies in the energy sector and in industry. The level of emissions that do not fall within the scope of the ETS, such as household and traffic emissions, will probably be under the emissions ceiling for this category by 2020, although this emissions ceiling has not yet been definitely determined (this will happen at the end of 2012). Rutte and his cabinet have proposed a European and conditional reduction of 40% in 2030 compared to the levels in 1990. The prospect for 2030 projects a continued drop in emissions, but whether that objective will actually be achieved remains uncertain.

Emissions of the main air pollutants will also be below the European emissions ceiling by 2020. This will be the case both in the event that only the policy that is currently determined is implemented as well as in the event that proposed measures are carried out. Only in the case of ammonia there is doubt as to whether emissions will be lower than the level of the emission ceiling.

 Kyoto targets achieved

The Netherlands will probably be able to meet its commitments as laid down in the Kyoto Protocol. Although the estimated level of greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands during the Kyoto period 2008-2012 is higher than the room available for emissions, expectations are that the Netherlands will be able to purchase sufficient emissions rights from other countries to absorb these excess emissions.

Press Release, August 24, 2012

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