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M. Jungingera, , S. Agterboschb, A. Faaija, W. Turkenburga

Department of Science, Technology and Society, Utrecht University, Padualaan

14, 3584 CH, Utrecht, The Netherlands b Department of Environmental Sciences
and Policy, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80.115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands

Renewable electricity in the Netherlands Energy Policy 32 (2004) 10531073


In 1996, in its third white paper on energy, the government of the Netherlands
formulated a policy goal of 10% renewable energy (RE) of the total energy supply
in the Netherlands in 2020 ( Minister of Economic Affairs, 1995). Key drivers for
this target were the global warming issue and the expected increased
vulnerability of the present energy supply system, which depends increasingly on
energy imports. The main emphasis was put on electricity from RE sources, for
which a target was set of a 17% contribu-tion to the domestic electricity
consumption, which would correspond to about 6% of the total energy demand.
More recently, the Dutch government for-mulated an intermediate target of 9%
contribution to electricity consumption from renewables in 2010, in line with the
target formulated in the recent EU directive on renewable electricity ( EU, 2001).
Whether this goal can be achieved depends on amongst other factors on the
domestic technical potential of renewable electricity, on the chosen definition or
renewable electricity, the specific policy support measures and other factors
influencing the actual realizable renewable electricity potential. Previous studies
have indicated that these goals may not be reached by the use of domestic
renewable electricity alone. Also, the latest governmental policies point out the
possible necessity for import of renewable electricity to reach the targets
( Ministry of Economic Affairs, 2002).


The aim of this paper is to explore the maximum ranges of the potential of
renewable electricity production in the Netherlands until 2020 in several different
images, representing different societal and policy preferences. In doing so it aims
to identify the most promising options to achieve the goal of 17% renewable
electricity. Following aspects are addressed to meet this objective: first an
overview is given of the development of the Dutch governmental support for
renewable electricity during the last decade. Second, a closer look is taken at the
possible interpretation and definition of 17% renewable electricity in the
Netherlands and implications on the RE potential. Third, assumptions and results
of four studies are compared, that aimed to forecast the development of
renewable electricity production in the Netherlands, and which that were
partially the basis for governmental policy formulation. In this comparison the
focus is on assumptions made with respect to economics and technology, the
importance of environmental sustainability, the role of governmental policy, and
the social and institutional setting.1 Finally, using the results from this
comparative analysis and other studies, three new images for the domestic
renewable electricity supply in 2020 for the Netherlands are developed. Each
image emphasizes the role of different key factors that influence the
implementation of RE technologies. Those factors are characterized by concrete
economic, environmental and technological criteria, which are applied in a
quantitative techno-economic evaluation of different key RE technologies in the
Netherlands. By comparing the different outcomes the ranges for the maximum
realizable potential of renewable electricity production are explored. The most
promising and robust technologies are identi-fied, and the influence of different
criteria and factors on the likely implementation of RE options is quantified.

Literature review

Agterberg, A.E., Faaij, A.P.C., 1998. Bio-energy trade. Possibilities and constraints
on short and longer term. Novem, EU-Altener programme, NUTEK, Utrecht, The

Alsema, E.A., Brummelen, M.v., 1992. Minder CO2 door PV. Department of
Science, Technology and Society, Utrecht Uni-versity, The Netherlands.

Bakker, C., 1997. Windenergy offshore: Watt anders. Adviesbureau E-Connection

BV, Delft, The Netherlands

Enzensberger, N., Wietschel, M., Rentz, O., 2002. Policy instruments fostering
wind energy projectsa multi perspective approach. Energy Policy 30 (9), 793

Lafleur, M.C.C., Fraanje, P.J., 1997. Towards sustainable use of the renewable
resource wood in the Netherlandsa systematic approach. Resources,
conservation and recycling 20 (1), 1929.

Kwant, K.W., Ruijgrok, W., 2000. Deployment of Renewable Energy in a

Liberalised Energy Market by Fiscal Instruments in the Netherlands. Novem,
Utrecht, The Netherlands.


In the following sections an attempt is made to develop three new images based
on different assumptions regarding the key factors of which the effects on
production and costs of renewable electricity can be quantified. In each image
one key factor is dealt with in a rather extreme way. Subsequently, the ranges of
the maximum realizable domestic renewable electricity in 2020 may be
indicated. This approach of sketching extreme images has several advantages

The three images are set up in a number of consecutive steps: As a first step,
three factors, being economic viability, maximum implementation speed and
ecological sustainability, are used as basic settings for making three different
images of Dutch the renewable electricity supply in 2020. The other two factors
(governmental financial support and technological pro-gress) influence the
economic viability and the maximum technical implementation rate in all
images. Social and institutional setting are explicitly not taken into account,
because of the afore mentioned difficulties to quantify them. Second,
corresponding story lines are written, sketching possible policies and conceivable
underlying driving forces for the three images. As a third step, in each image the
technical potential is limited per technology by the criteria of the central key


The quantitative results for the three images are shown in Figs. 5 and 6. A more detailed overview
of wind capacity (by location) and biomass capacity (by technologies) is given in Figs. 7 and 8.
For image 1 the high required IRR makes low-investment strategies for biomass most attractive. This
means that existing coal and natural gas plants are fully used to co-fire biomass waste streams.
Profitable onshore wind parks in coastal regions are fully exploited. Nearshore wind parks are
permitted, as this may also be the case in other European countries (Belgium, Germany) and the aim
is for a level playing field for RE is assumed. Hydropower is extended up to its economic potential. PV
is not stimulated with subsidies and diffusion is negligible. In general, this image favors large-scale
centralized production because of the lower costs. In total, 25.0 TWh per year may be produced
before the 9 hct/kWh boundary is reached In image 2, wind onshore, nearshore and offshore are fully
exploiteddiffusion is ensured by favorable legislation for RE projects. Waste separation and
conversion of biomass waste streams with highly efficient BIG-CCs or co-firing in existing NG-plants is
used on large scale, also fuelled with indigen-ous cultivated biomass. Photovoltaics are strongly
stimulated, and the maximum penetration rate is the limiting factor. In general, this image also favors
large-scale centralized production, due to higher conversion efficiencies. The maximum production
per year lies at 43.6 TWh.

Finally, in image 3, deployment of wind onshore is more limited, as the public perception is that wind
should be realized far from shore, where environmental and societal impact is limited. Biomass use is
limited to clean streams such as cultivated crops in the Nether-lands and clean biomass residues
(verge grass, etc.). Streams such as chicken manure are no longer available, as this sector is
assumed to phase out in this image. Due to the required high overall efficiency next to large BIG-CCs,
small and medium-sized biomass fuelled CHP systems may be feasible. Next to the efficiency gain,
gasification plants also prevail over combustion options due to their lower emissions. In addition,
photovoltaics are strongly stimulated for both large-scale and small-scale projects, and the maximum
penetration rate is the limiting factor. Thus, decentralized generation of electricity plays a larger role in
this image in contrast to the previous two images.

A number of comments have to be made with regard to the images given. All images show larger
potentials than in the studies discussed in Section 3.1. This is mainly caused by the approach of
emphasizing only one key aspect and looking at maximum ranges, while in the previously discussed
studies, several key factors are integrated for composing scenarios. In quantitative terms, the higher
penetration of wind offshore and the increased utilization of biomass waste streams are mainly
responsible for these higher potentials.

Wind offshore clearly is a robust option, as it has a significant share in all three images. The largest
uncertainties of this yet unproven technology are the successful technological development, and the
assump-tions on the maximum installation rate until 2020. Regarding the onshore wind potential,
environmental criteria and available space are, as expected, the main limiting parameters, but with
21002200 MWe less severe than assumed in the RACE study, making it an important and relatively
robust option in all three images (see also Fig. 7). Concerning biomass, two different technologies
are evident: different forms of co-firing as most economical options, or large-scale (stand-alone)
gasification plants as most efficient tech-nologies. In all images, either large-scale co-firing in coal
plants, NGCC plants or BIG/CC plants contribute substantially to the total renewable electricity
produc-tion (see also Fig. 8). The successful development of these technologies, especially
gasification of contami-nated waste streams, is crucial in these images. In addition, both the quantity
of available biomass and the varying sustainable character of various biomass streams may be a
bottleneck for exploiting the full potential. For photovoltaics, both costs and the max-imum
implementation rate are bottlenecks keeping it from contributing a large share in images 1 and 2. In
image 3, PV might contribute up to 7% of the total supply. Finally, hydropower is simply limited by the
technical potential and may at most contribute 0.3% in image 3.

In each of the chosen images, offshore wind supplies at least 10.3 TWh, onshore wind 4.8 TWh, and
large-scale biomass installations 6.5 TWh, adding up to a robust potential of 21.6 TWh. However, the
spatial locations of wind turbines onshore, nearshore and offshore differ between the three images, as
do the technologies used for large-scale biomass plants. When looking at the options, which are
exactly the same in all three images, only 3.6 TWh onshore wind, 1.1 TWh offshore and 4.3 TWh
large-scale biomass remain, adding to a total minimum production of 9 TWh.

Image 3
Marginal cost of electricity ( ct / kWh)


Image 2

Cost including GTC-price
Image 1
Current cost of electricity
0 10 20 30 40 50
Annual renewable electricity production (TWh)

Fig. 5. Supply curves of the renewable electricity production in the three images.

/ year)

45 Biomass
electricity (TWh

30 PV

10 Wind

5 onshore

Image 1 Image 2 Image 3

Fig. 6. Contribution of renewable electricity technologies in each


electricity (TWh/year)

20 offshore
15 nearshore

10 Wind

Image 1 Image 2 Image 3

Fig. 7. Composition of the wind energy contribution in the images.

6. Conclusions and recommendations

As was shown in Section 4, leaving out one or more key parameters may lead to an
incomplete analysis, while integrating all key factors into one quantitative forecast is difficult
and may lead to a false indication of accuracy. In the chosen approach, a number of direct key
factors determine a maximum realizable sustainable energy potential for 2020 and
incorporated in different images. In all three images produced in this analysis, the upper limit
of the government target of 24 TWh is reached. In other words, strict environmental criteria
or high economic demands alone are not necessarily insurmountable barriers for reaching the
17% target. It is emphasized that it was not the intention to develop a best-guess scenario, and
that no integration of the three images into a single scenario was performed. The chosen
approach of highlighting different extreme developments makes such a full integration into
one scenario rather unsuitable. Nevertheless, as an integral result onshore wind, offshore
wind and large-scale biomass plant are determined as robust options in terms of ecological
sustainability, economical performances and high possible technological progress. When
adding up these robust potentials, the range of 922 TWh suggests that at least a large part of
the 17% target can be achieved using these robust options, and policy support should
primarily focus on these options. The recent change in policy from a tax exemption (for
which foreign renewable electricity production is also eligible) to feed-in tariffs (only
applicable for domestic produc-tion) may provide the required economical setting for further
renewable capacity expansion of domestic wind onshore and biomass. However, as other
support schemes (such as the accelerated depreciation of invest-ments) no longer apply, the
development of offshore wind farms may require additional incentives, especially given the
high risks involved in investing in this yet unproven technology.

Next to the key factors chosen here, there are other (minor) factors which may influence the
penetration of renewables. As was pointed out before, the availability of cheap and/or
sustainable biomass from abroad may play an important role for the overall electricity-from-
biomass potential, but also for the viability of biomass cultivation in the Netherlands. Overall
electricity gen-erating capacity and the overall electricity demand may also influence the
possibilities for additional renewable electricity generating electricity. Another limitation,
which has not yet been included here, is the maximum amount of capacity that can be
integrated into the grid, in particular for intermittent sources.24


Main uncertainties in the images lie in the different rates of assumed technological progress
for the technologies. Further detailed research is required whether the assumed increase in
efficiency and cost reductions can actually be reached, and which factors may be crucial to
achieve this. Especially for offshore wind, with a huge potential in all images, the possible
cost reductions need to be further investigated.

Another focus point for further research is the social and institutional setting for onshore
wind, offshore wind and large-scale biomass options. As these options clearly show the
largest quantitative potential for the Nether-lands, it is recommended that the possible barriers
caused by social and institutional settings should be scrutinized further. With the given
maximum ranges we hope to provide a base for governmental steering, acknowledging the
inherent uncertainty of the context. It finally is a political choice to decide whether or not and
how to steer on the dynamic social and institutional setting.