Energy consumption hardly changed in 2017

26/04/2018 16:00
© Hollandse Hoogte / Herman Engbers
In 2017, total energy consumption in the Netherlands stood at 3,150 petajoules (PJ), more or less equal to consumption in 2016. Consumption of coal and other coal products declined by 46 PJ to 382 PJ; natural gas consumption, on the other hand, rose by 55 PJ to 1,299 PJ. For the first time, more natural gas was imported than was extracted from Dutch soil last year. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures.

Fossil fuels prevail

From 1990 to 2017, energy consumption increased by nearly 10 percent. Consumption per capita dropped however, by almost 5 percent. In 2017, fossil fuels accounted for 92 percent (2,900 PJ) of total energy consumption, more or less the same as in the previous year. The remaining 8 percent was generated from renewable energy sources, nuclear energy, waste and imported electric current.
Between 1990 and 2017, the Dutch economy grew at a faster pace than energy consumption; the GDP volume grew by 80 percent. One contributing factor is the increasingly efficient use of energy sources over the years. For example, electricity is being generated more and more efficiently, central heating boilers have become increasingly economical and new buildings have better insulation. Since 1990, the share of (energy-efficient) production of services in Dutch GDP has also become larger.

More natural gas, less coal used in electricity production

Similar to 2016, natural gas saw increased consumption levels in 2017, mainly because of a higher use for electricity production: by 33 PJ. This is mainly related to a decline in coal consumption (49 PJ) in this respect. In 2016, the use of coal was also down: by nearly one-tenth. These reductions partly result from the closure of old coal-fired plants as part of the 2013 Energy Agreement. Nevertheless, power plants are still burning more coal than during the years prior to 2014. This is mainly because new, large coal plants were put into service in 2014 and 2015.

Natural gas imports exceed extraction

In 2017, natural gas extraction declined for the fourth consecutive year, namely by more than 200 PJ (approximately 13 percent). The decline is related to the issue of earthquakes in the province of Groningen. Reduced extraction levels are primarily offset by imports of natural gas. As of 2012, these imports have increased on a yearly basis; in 2017, more natural gas was imported than was extracted domestically for the first time.
In 2017, most of the extra imports were from Norway, rising to 743 PJ from 185 PJ. Imports from Great Britain increased as well, from 78 PJ to 253 PJ. Imports from German cross-border gas trading (including natural gas from Russia), on the other hand, fell by 116 PJ to 338 PJ.

Traditionally, Dutch exports of natural gas exceed imports. Between 2000 and 2013, the volume of exports was more than twice as large as imports. However, this ratio changed quickly after 2013: natural gas exports were only 3 percent higher than imports in 2017.

More petrol and diesel used in road transport

In 2017, consumption of petroleum and petroleum products remained virtually unchanged at more than 1,200 PJ. The greatest developments were seen in road transport. Petrol as well as diesel went up by 3 percent in volume compared to 2016, totalling 417 PJ. LPG consumption dropped however: from 8 PJ to 7 PJ, the lowest point since 1975. The year 1989 saw the highest use of LPG in road transport, but consumption levels have been declining almost constantly since then.