The Netherlands lags far behind European renewable energy goals

The Netherlands lags far behind European renewable energy goals

The Netherlands has a very long way to go to meet the 2020 EU goals for renewable energy. According to Eurostat, it’s second to last out of all EU nations when it comes to the progress being made with moving away from fossil fuels.

The Netherlands has to get 14 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, and in 2014 this was only 5,5 percent, which is still 8,5 percent short of the EU guidelines.

EU Directive Renewable Energy

In 2009, the European countries agreed on the EU Directive Renewable Energy, a commitment to increase the amount of renewable energy sources by 2020. These sources include the wind, the sun, biomass and hydroelectric energy production.

The targets vary by country and are based on the share of renewable energy in 2005 plus an increase in the share of renewable energy, largely equal for each country. Part of the agreement is that the targets are lower for poorer countries and for countries that made considerable efforts in the past.

Only France worse than the Netherlands

In the entire EU, only France is further away from its national target. One-third of European countries have already reached their agreed targets. Countries such as Denmark and Austria are only one percentage point away from the 2020 goal. On average, the European nations are collectively 4 percentage points behind.

Renewable energy lagging behind

Nearly 5,5 percent of energy used in the Netherlands came from renewable sources in 2014, far less than in Europe’s leading countries Sweden (53 percent), Latvia (39 percent) and Finland (39 percent).

Source: CBS/ Eurostat

Source: CBS/ Eurostat


The European average (16 percent) is also higher than in the Netherlands. Only in Malta (4,7 percent) and Luxembourg (4,5 percent) is the share of renewable energy lower than in the Netherlands.

Netherlands uses small amount of biomass

Relatively few Dutch households burn wood (included in biomass) to heat their houses, because nearly every house in the Netherlands is connected to the natural gas grid, and gas is fairly cheap.

Due to its geographical location, the Netherlands has little potential for hydropower. Unlike in Sweden and Finland, the Netherlands also does not have a large paper industry relying on biomass.

Government subsidies to encourage investment in renewable energy sources are also lower in the Netherlands compared to countries such as Germany and Denmark.

Thomas Lundberg


Thomas Lundberg

Born as a Swede in the Netherlands, this life-long expat has spent his time in Belgium, the United States and Amsterdam. He began his professional career as a regional news...

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