Considerably more sustainable electricity

The production of sustainable electricity was 40 percent higher last year than twelve months previously. This means that more than a quarter of the electricity consumption in the Netherlands came from renewable sources in the Netherlands, compared to 18 percent in 2019. This is shown by (preliminary) figures from Statistics Netherlands.

The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) calculated that 31 billion kWh of electricity was generated from renewable sources last year, compared to 22 billion kWh in 2019. Windmills accounted for 45 percent of that 31 billion, solar panels for 29 percent and 26 percent were generated with biomass.

This is a boost, especially for the automotive industry. On the one hand, because critics like to say that the vast majority of the electricity that EVs run on comes from fossil power plants, on the other because electric driving has been on the rise since last year and the need for (preferably clean) electricity is therefore increasing rapidly.

The growth comes mainly from solar energy, of which production increased by more than half. But electricity production with wind turbines also rose sharply, 29 percent in a year. Partly thanks to two large wind farms near Borssele, the installed capacity at sea increased from about 1,000 mW at the end of 2019 to 2,500 mW around the turn of the year. On land, the combined power grew from nearly 600 mW to 4,100 mW.

Finally, electricity from biomass grew from 6 billion kWh in 2019 to 9 billion kWh in 2020 (+49 percent). The fact that this form of energy generation is included in the figures is not entirely uncontroversial. Opponents, including Urgenda, object that biomass is a huge CO2 emitter.

These may be promising figures, but the rapid growth of electric mobility means that we are far from being there yet. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Jaap de Hoop Scheffer broke into talks with Techzle last year in favor of nuclear energy. “I don’t see how you can live up to the Paris climate agreement with only wind and sun, without nuclear energy,” he said. In the same session, Coby van der Linde, energy expert and director of Clingendael Energy, expressed the expectation that around 2050 we will still be consuming around 65 million barrels of oil per day worldwide. That’s roughly the level of the 1970s, but then the world economy was much smaller. In 2019 it was around 100 million barrels.

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