The Netherlands is a founding member of the IEA.
The Netherlands has advanced energy policies and a very modern market and economy. A prominent producer of natural gas in Europe, the country also serves as a hub for energy trade and transit – a role that could expand in the future. Its gas and electricity markets are liberalised, with the gas and electricity grids both owned and operated by independent, state-owned companies unbundled from other parts of the supply chain. The government has recently laid out an ambitious energy and climate agenda under its Clean & Efficient programme and its Energy Report 2008. This agenda calls for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels, 20% renewables in the energy mix, annual energy efficiency improvements of 2% (double the current rate) and completing a big step in the transition towards a more sustainable energy system by 2020. Coal-fired power plants with carbon capture and storage (CCS) are foreseen to play a very prominent role in the country’s energy mix in 2030. The future for nuclear, which provided 3.5% of electricity in 2006, is less clear.
A small, mostly low-lying country in north-west Europe, the Netherlands borders Belgium and Germany and has over 450 km of coastline along the North Sea. With a total land area of about 42 000 square kilometres (km2), the Netherlands is similar in size to Switzerland, Denmark or New Jersey. The climate is largely temperate, with cool summers and mild winters. Arable land covers about 20% of the total area. With over 16 million inhabitants, the Netherlands has the 25th highest population density in the world and the highest density in the OECD. The country’s annual population growth rate is 0.21%. The three largest cities in the Netherlands – Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague – each have fewer than 750 000 inhabitants.
With an estimated GDP of USD 436 billion in 2007,3 the Netherlands is the seventh-largest economy in Europe (about a quarter of the size of Germany). Because of its geographical location, the country functions as a transport hub for the continent. The industrial sector is driven in large part by food processing, chemicals, petroleum refining and electrical machinery. Since hydrocarbons were discovered in the middle of the last century, the country has had significant production of fossil fuels, primarily natural gas.
The Netherlands – Nederland in Dutch – is a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature (the First Chamber and Second Chamber or Eerste Kamer.