Dutch energy regions on course for at least 35 TWh by 2030 – 55 TWh ambition uncertain

The 30 energy regions in the Netherlands are on track to generate at least 35 TWh of large-scale renewable energy onshore by 2030 and there is perspective for beyond that. Existing implementation bottlenecks, such as grid congestion, mean that the total combined ambition of 55 TWh is unlikely to be achieved in 2030.

This is according to the Nationaal Programma RES, which supports the 30 energy regions in making the plans laid out in the Regional Energy Strategy (RES). The Netherlands have agreed in the 2019 Climate Agreement for 35 TWh of renewable energy production from onshore solar and wind by 2030. The country has been divided in 30 regions which each will draft a so-called Regional Energy Strategy (Regionale Energiestrategie) that details how each region will contribute to this goal in the energy transition.

On 1 July, the RES 1.0 progress documents were delivered. Based on an initial scan of the delivered progress reports and interviews in the regions, National Programme RES presents the state of play. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) discusses the state of play in more detail and quantitatively in its RES Monitor December 2023.

Regions on course for at least 35 TWh in 2030

The 30 regions are collectively on course to generate at least 35 TWh of energy by 2030 thanks to projects already realised and projects in the licensing phase. The democratically set ambition of the regions combined is 55 TWh by 2030. About half of the regions seem to meet their own bid (part of 55 TWh). These are mainly regions that have already been working on renewable energy generation for a long time and intensively and now have expertise and experience. Many regions that started later are building expertise and investing in coordination with stakeholders.

Challenges

Others indicate that they cannot fully realise their own ambition for 2030. The regions cite a lack of perspective beyond 2030 so far, and the toughness of existing bottlenecks such as grid congestion, the Wespendief and the failure of national environmental standards for wind farms. But also the nitrogen issue, lack of clarity on standardisation preferred solar order, defence radars and societal concerns about onshore wind and solar power. Striving for 55 TWh requires a lot of effort and creativity from all involved.

Initiative-rich society and active government can accelerate transition

Increasingly, governments, energy cooperatives and companies themselves are taking the initiative in the transition to sustainable energy. Concrete needs such as expanding or making businesses more sustainable or using wind turbine revenues from energy cooperatives are leading to the creation of ‘smart energy hubs’ and energy communities. This also brings wind energy explicitly back into the picture. The Generation of Energy on Government Property programme also contributes firmly to the development of sustainable energy generation. Furthermore, a State Council ruling this spring showed that provinces and municipalities can set sound environmental standards for wind farms themselves. This allows the expansion of Delfzijl-Zuid wind farm, among others, to go ahead.

New perspective beyond 2030

In the Draft National Energy System Plan, announced last week, the central government states that electricity production must grow and in the future consist mainly of wind (at sea and on land), solar PV and nuclear energy. This is necessary to achieve a CO2-neutral electricity system by 2035. So, even after 2030, onshore renewable energy generation remains badly needed. It is therefore essential that all cooperating partners remain committed to realise the ambitions. A new national agreement on this for after 2030 will be discussed this autumn. This will provide all stakeholders in the regions with the necessary long-term perspective at the end of this year.

Concrete plans necessary, also for the energy system

Spatial developments take place in areas where both space and grid capacity are often scarce. This also affects renewable energy generation: less effective search areas and projects will drop out. It is therefore necessary that parties in the region, in dialogue with their surroundings, make plans for generating sustainable energy concrete. In doing so, it is important to take into account the expected demand for sustainable electricity for housing, business and electric transport. The concrete plans can be coordinated with initiatives from society, other spatial tasks and the energy infrastructure. This helps governments in their decision-making and grid operators in their investment decisions.

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