The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is placing great pressure on traditional concepts. For example, reliance on international suppliers, or gas extraction in Groningen, is no longer indisputable. Existing systems for energy generation are being viewed from a new perspective. And innovative ideas, often from unexpected sources, are helping the energy transition to advance.
We have witnessed all kinds of initiatives where energy use has been optimised by integrating systems. For instance, residual heat from industrial settings being used to heat large parts of the city. In 2015, approximately five percent of the Dutch population was connected to such a heat network. Such integrated systems result in cost-cutting and efficiency, and help to encourage new technologies and earnings models. However, they are accompanied by issues concerning regulation and infrastructure-related costs.
The energy-intensive industrial sector is responsible for approximately a quarter of all CO2 emissions in the Netherlands. The sector has traditionally relied heavily on fossil fuels. For example, chemical companies, metal processing companies and refineries are often strongly linked within a cluster of suppliers and buyers. The transition to sustainable energy thus represents a massive transformation for individual companies and value chains.
The energy transition has also started in this sector due to more intensive government policy, technological innovations and customer requirements. If the energy transition succeeds in this sector, then it will succeed in general considering the sector's share of total CO2 emissions in the Netherlands.
Today (2017), eight percent of the world's electrical cars are found in the Netherlands. A lot of experimentation is also taking place with, for example, smart charging. Although electric travel and transport now has the wind in its sails, things didn’t quite go so smoothly in the beginning. Besides changing fiscal policy, the new charging network will need to deal with the increasing number of electrical cars. Back in 2010, who would have thought that all major car manufacturers would have launched a mid-range electrical car by 2018? The social breakthrough in electrical vehicles represents a major step in the energy transition.
Land-based wind and solar energy is becoming increasingly competitive compared to fossil energy. At the end of 2015, the Netherlands featured more than 2500 windmills, which met around five percent of all electricity demand.
Major decreases in the cost of solar panels, and government legislation aimed at net metering, are encouraging people to place solar panels on their roofs. Between 2011 and 2017, there was a thirty-fold increase in the number of solar panels on the roofs of private individuals. By 2015, this had reduced total CO2 emissions by half a percent. This was demonstrated in an evaluation carried out by PwC in 2017 under assignment from Minister of Economic Affairs, Henk Kamp.
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