Less coal and more natural gas consumption in 2019

© Hollandse Hoogte / Richard Brocken
In 2019, total energy consumption in the Netherlands stood at 3,080 petajoules (PJ), more or less the same as in the previous year. Consumption of coal dropped by over 22 percent, the largest decline since 2000. Natural gas consumption, on the other hand, rose to 1,360 PJ. Meanwhile, the Netherlands is increasingly making use of natural gas from abroad. The natural gas trade deficit went up to more than 340 PJ last year, while it still amounted to 190 PJ in 2018. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on the most recent energy balance figures.

The energy balance comprises supply, conversion and consumption of energy. Energy is released for example during combustion of natural gas, petroleum, coal and biofuels, or is produced from wind or solar power (energy carriers).

Natural gas consumption on the rise

The share of natural gas in Dutch energy consumption increased in 2019, after it had been more or less stable for a number of years. Last year, natural gas held a share of 44 percent in total energy consumption (versus 41 percent in 2018). Petroleum remained in second place with a slight decline from 38 to 36 percent. The contribution of coal has diminished as of 2016 and saw a further decline to 9 percent of energy consumption in 2019. Just as in 2018, the three fossil energy carriers combined were good for around 90 percent of total energy consumption. The other energy sources are renewable energy, nuclear energy, waste and net electricity imports. Their combined share has been growing slightly since 2010 (when it stood at over 6 percent).

Energy consumption
 Natural gas (PJ)Petroleum and petroleum products (PJ)Coal and coal products (PJ)Other energy sources (PJ)
*Provisional **Revised provisional

Coal consumption declining further

In 2019, the consumption of coal for power generation declined for the fourth consecutive year to 270 PJ (from 340 PJ in 2018). The use of coal still saw a steep rise in 2014 and 2015, following the opening of new coal-fired power plants. Current consumption levels are the lowest since the start of the millennium. From 2016 to 2018, coal consumption declined as old coal-fired power plants were being closed down. In 2019, the price of natural gas was low while CO2 emission allowance prices were high; as a result, the carbon-intensive coal power plants had a lot of competition from the gas-fired plants.

Again less domestic natural gas extraction and more imports

In 2019, natural gas extraction in the Netherlands fell by over 150 to 1,010 PJ, a reduction of 13 percent. This was the sixth consecutive year of decline. The decline is the result of output restrictions which were imposed after the occurrence of earthquakes in the province of Groningen. In 2019, natural gas extraction was only 40 percent of the volume extracted in 2013.

The lower extraction levels were amply compensated by imports of natural gas. As of 2012, these imports have increased each year; in 2018, natural gas imports exceeded exports for the first time. Last year, natural gas net imports increased further to 340 PJ. This increase was almost entirely on account of liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments by vessel, which rose from 100 PJ in 2018 to over 280 PJ in 2019. Net imports of natural gas in gaseous form (pipeline supplies) have been more or less constant over the past three years.

Natural gas supply
 Extraction (PJ)Net imports of natural gas in gaseous form1) (PJ)Net imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG)1) (PJ)
*Provisional **Revised provisional 1)Net imports = imports minus exports

Less petroleum consumption in chemical industry

In 2019, chemical consumption of petroleum products for the production of plastics fell by nearly 11 percent year-on-year. This is mainly due to the temporary closure of several large petrochemical factories.

In 2019, petroleum consumption declined by 4 percent year-on-year to around 1,120 PJ. Kerosene consumption in the international aviation industry was down by 2 percent, after 10 years of growth. The supply of motor fuels for road traffic such as petrol and diesel remained more or less stable.