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Renewable Energy in a Crowded Country

  • Netherlands
  • Real estate

03-11-2020

By 2030, the Dutch government plans to draw 27% of the Netherlands’ energy from renewable sources. By 2050, it plans to achieve zero carbon emissions.

These are highly ambitious targets. However, the Netherlands has the public will and the policies to deliver them. Investors and developers can benefit from a generous nationwide subsidy scheme, good infrastructure and a positive business climate. And we are seeing the fruits of this environment with work on a variety of sustainable sources of energy:

  • Hydrogen - Dutch industry is working on a range of projects aimed at realizing the potential role this gas (the most abundant chemical in the universe) can play in the energy transition;
  • Wind Energy – both off shore and on shore, will also play a key role in this energy revolution. The North Sea is a good home for wind turbines because of its relatively shallow waters, favourable wind climate, good ports and concentration of industrial energy consumers;
  • Solar - Solar is increasingly important and is a fast growing market, with the scale and number of projects growing;
  • Biomass - The nationwide subsidy scheme is still open to biomass developers, though the cancellation of the national nitrogen policy and ongoing debate about biomass has added some uncertainty. The nationwide subsidy scheme has been extended to more energy categories, including carbon capture storage.

The Netherlands is a tightly packed and densely populated country and finding usable land presents a number of issues:

  1.  in rural areas, there is resistance to agricultural land being used for large developments (such as solar parks), meaning negotiating the legal road to doing so can take a number of years;
  2. energy subsidies may be lost if the required construction start date is missed;
  3. we are seeing increasing demands from residents and other stakeholder to share in a solar park’s revenue;
  4. authorities trying to enforce financial participation on third parties in solar projects, through spatial planning or specific policies; and
  5. lack of sufficient suitable grid capacity in several parts of the Netherlands.

Making solar park or energy projects mixed use schemes and integrating them into the landscape are useful options to help overcome many of these obstacles. Indeed, for datacentres, integrating their design into the landscape has become a key stone for their successful and timely development.

It’s all in the preparation:

Consulting and working with all of the relevant authorities right from the start is key to a successful development. If you want your development to succeed, it is vital to discuss all aspects of it at the earliest possible stage including grid capacity, energy requirements (such as the recycling of waste heat) and specific local policies.

If a change of zoning plan is required, multiple authorities will be involved and will be invited to have a say. Increasingly, authorities use the ongoing energy transition revolution to ask for additional requirements and investments, even where those requirements have no specific legal basis as yet.

Given the Netherlands’ ambition for zero carbon by 2050, there are huge opportunities for anyone considering the investment and delivery of energy projects in the Netherlands. Just make sure you are well prepared - and well advised

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