IEA commends the Netherlands for its sound and sustainable energy policy, but calls for more focus on implementation to reach ambitious policy objectives

(The Hague) — 2 February 2009

“The Netherlands has established a sound energy policy framework addressing the key challenges: energy security, economic efficiency and environmental sustainability”, said Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), today in the Hague at the launch of Energy Policies of IEA Countries – the Netherlands 2008 Review. He highlighted the country’s demanding energy and climate agenda, noting that it calls for a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels, a 20% share of renewables in the energy mix by 2020 and annual energy efficiency improvements of 2% by 2020. “The Netherlands now faces the challenge of making its ambitious aspirations a reality.”

The IEA publication acknowledges the government’s efforts towards a sustainable energy future that include developing medium- and long-term policy projections, setting up concrete targets and intensifying its support for energy research and development. The report also emphasises the progress in developing competitive electricity and gas markets, and the Netherlands’ role in European energy security. “Although domestic gas reserves and production are now in decline, the Netherlands maintains its key position in the gas market through enhanced trading and increased storage capacity”, said Mr. Tanaka in the presence of the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Maria van der Hoeven. “Security of electricity supply also benefits from the Netherlands’ interconnections with neighbouring countries.”

Mr. Tanaka praised the government for promoting regional market integration in Europe – understanding that such integration will improve the competitive environment and, ultimately, energy security. He pointed out that meeting the Netherlands’ ambitious targets might be very challenging and urged the government to focus even more on the implementation of the adopted policies and measures.

Meeting the ambitious energy and environment targets
”The Netherlands has very sound policies in place or under development in all three priority areas – climate change, renewables and energy efficiency. More could be done, however, to strengthen monitoring, enforcement and compliance,” Mr. Tanaka stated. He added that improving energy efficiency in transport was especially challenging and urged the government to implement its existing policy proposals as quickly as possible.

Mr. Tanaka also encouraged the Netherlands to work towards a broad political consensus on the future role of nuclear power in the country, keeping in mind that its expansion could make a significant contribution to meeting greenhouse gas emissions targets in a cost-effective manner.

Expanding renewable energy
The IEA report warned that the 20% target for renewables was particularly challenging given that renewables currently account for less than 3% of total primary energy supply (TPES) in the Netherlands. Among the 28 IEA member countries, the Netherlands has the sixth-lowest share of renewables in its TPES, partly explained by the lack of large-scale hydro. Mr. Tanaka praised the government for its efforts to improve support mechanisms for renewable energy. However, he underscored the need for an even more stable and long-term policy and regulatory framework to underpin private-sector investment. “The government should consider measures to address non-economic barriers to renewables’ deployment, for example by streamlining and clarifying the planning process. To achieve a 20% share of renewables so quickly, an extra push may be required,” concluded Mr. Tanaka.

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