Netherlands net exporter electricity since October 2009

Since October last year, the Netherlands is a net exporter of electricity, because in the last quarter of 2009 more electricity was exported than imported to and from the surrounding countries. This was triggered by lower electricity prices in the Netherlands and large-scale maintenance projects in neighbouring countries. 

More electricity exported than imported

The Netherlands exported nearly 1.15 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity to Belgium, Germany and Norway in December. At the same time, the Netherlands imported nearly 1 billion kWh of electricity. Earlier in the year, in July, electricity exports started to grow, while imports fell marginally. Since October export volumes have risen continually.

Electricity imports and exports

Electricity imports and exports

Since the early 1980s, the Netherlands has always been a net importer of electricity.

Dutch electricity price lower than in adjacent countries

In 2009, Dutch electricity prices were lower than in the neighbouring countries. Oil prices were low and as there is a direct link between oil and gas prices, the lower gas price in turn affects the price of electricity. In the Netherlands, most electricity is generated with natural gas, as opposed to Germany where more than half of electricity is generated in coal-fired power stations. In the Netherlands, the price of natural gas has therefore more effect on the price of electricity than in Germany. As a result, exports of electricity to Germany have grown. 

Since October, Belgium has imported more electricity from the Netherlands than from France, where output capacity was reduced as large-scale maintenance programmes were carried out. Together with the increasing demand for electricity in autumn and winter, this forced up the price of electricity in France and France became an electricity importing country.

Imports and exports of electricity by country

Imports and exports of electricity by country

Extra production in natural gas power stations

The extra amount of electricity exported by the Netherlands is predominantly generated in natural gas power stations. In October 2009, an unprecedented over 1 billion m3 of natural gas was used for electricity generation. Several highly efficient gas power stations increased their output. The high degree of efficiency and the relatively low gas price make generation of electricity in gas power stations very profitable.

Otto Swertz (CBS) and Petra Wessels (TenneT)