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Eighty-three percent of Dutch people want more solar energy use

Thursday, 10 June 2021

According to the Perceptions 2020 survey conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) three-quarters of the Dutch population are concerned about the impact of climate change on future generations. Additionally, a large majority of survey respondents want less fossil fuel usage and more green energy. 

More than 3.6 thousand inhabitants of the Netherlands aged 18 and over were questioned for the Perceptions survey between February and June 2020 where they were asked what they thought about climate change and the energy transition. 

Of the surveyed respondents, over half of them wanted to see less use of petroleum and natural gas with around 1 in 10 want the Netherlands to stop the use of fossil fuels altogether. A large majority of Dutch people questioned were in favour of green energy with 83% wanting greater use of solar energy and 73% wanting more use wind energy in the country. According to CBS "Many Dutch people also consider hydropower and geothermal heat to be a sustainable alternative. Opinions on the use of nuclear energy and biomass are divided."

Hesitancy on wind turbines 

According to CBS, a large proportion of the population, 71% , support the construction of new wind turbines in the Netherlands, however, they are less enthusiastic about having wind turbines in their own area. "Twenty-one percent are in favour and 31 percent are against. Forty-three percent say it depends. The location of the wind turbines is the most frequently cited factor: they must not be too close to their home. Most Dutch people therefore prefer to have no wind turbines near their home."

Over fifty-percent of Dutch people positive about energy transition

Fifty-three percent of the Dutch population believe it is positive or very positive that the government wants to make the Netherlands natural gas free by switching to sustainable energy sources. The most cited reasons given were that natural gas contributed to CO2 emissions (and hence climate change) and also that the extraction of natural gas leads to subsoil shifts and subsidence, as in the earthquakes in Groningen. An additional reason given was the finite nature of natural gas.

Renewable energy accounted for 11.1% of total Dutch energy consumption

According to figures from the CBS, in 2020, renewable energy accounted for 11.1 percent of total Dutch energy consumption a 2.3% increase compared to 2019. The increase was largely due to rising solar and wind power capacity in the Netherlands. Consumption of biomass was up as well, particularly co-firing at coal-fired power plants. 

Total renewable energy consumption amounted to 219 petajoules (PJ) last year, i.e. 19 percent up in 2019. Gross final energy consumption stood at nearly 2,000 PJ in 2020, around 100 PJ less than in the previous year. This decline in gross final consumption also contributed to the increased share of renewable energy. There was also a decline in energy consumption in transportation observed and this was attributed to "less traffic in 2020 partly as a result of far-reaching measures to combat the coronavirus crisis."

In terms of EU commitments, the Netherlands had a 14% renewable share target by 2020. As such in addition to domestic sources, the country had to import approximately 16 TWh in order to achieve this target. In June 2020, the Netherlands entered into an agreement with Denmark for the transfer of 8-16 TWh of renewable energy.

Substantial increase in wind, solar and biomass energy consumption

Wind energy consumption rose by 29% to 50 PJ mainly due to increased installed capacity of onshore and offshore wind turbines like the new wind farm near Borssele. Total wind capacity increased from 4,500 MWh in 2019 to 6,600 MWh in 2020.

Solar energy consumption (for electricity and heat) rose by 47% to 30 PJ due to an increase in installed solar capacities as well with a record-breaking total of 10,000 MWh in 2020 an 39% increased compared to 2019.