Lower renewable energy share despite more solar and wind energy

Motorcyclist leaves unusually shaped petrol station
© ANP / Berlinda van Dam
In 2021, renewable energy accounted for 12 percent of total energy consumption in the Netherlands. This share was 14 percent in 2020. Compared to 2020, less biomass was counted towards the share of renewable energy and there were no renewable energy imports. In 2021, wind energy consumption increased by 36 percent and solar energy consumption by 28 percent year on year. This is evident from provisional figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

Renewable energy share in gross final energy consumption
JaartalWind (%)Solar (%)Aerothermal, geothermal, ground-source heat and hydropower (%)Biomass, compliant with EU Directive (%)Biomass, not fully compliant with EU Directive (%)Statistical transfer (renewable energy from abroad) (%)
* Provisional figures ** Revised provisional figures

In 2021, a revised EU Renewable Energy Directive came into force. This directive has stricter sustainability criteria for biomass. It is still unclear how exactly these criteria should be applied. The total amount of biomass consumption that fully complies with the EU Directive was 107 petajoules (PJ), down from 120 PJ in 2020. This brought renewable energy consumption to 240 PJ last year, i.e. 12 percent of gross final energy consumption. When the part of biomass that is not fully compliant with the EU directive is included, the consumption of renewable energy comes out at 269 PJ. This is 13.4 percent of total energy consumption.

In 2020, 49 PJ of renewable energy was purchased from Denmark via a so-called statistical transfer. As a result, the Netherlands achieved the binding EU target of 14% renewable energy agreed for that year. No agreements have been made so far to realise such a transfer for 2021. This partly explains last year’s decline in the share of renewable energy.

Higher energy consumption from offshore wind turbines

In 2021, wind energy consumption grew by 36 percent to 68 PJ relative to the previous year. This is equivalent to 3.4 percent of gross final energy consumption in the Netherlands. Consumption of energy generated by offshore wind turbines in particular rose sharply because offshore wind farms were fully operational throughout the year. Offshore wind energy consumption increased by 71 percent year on year, amounting to 31 PJ. In the same period, onshore wind energy consumption rose by 17 percent to 38 PJ.

Total wind turbine capacity amounted to 7,700 megawatts (MW) at the end of 2021, 16 percent more than one year previously. This increase is entirely attributable to new onshore wind farms; the offshore wind turbine capacity did not rise.

Higher solar energy consumption due to more solar panels

In 2021, solar energy consumption (for electricity and heat) rose by 28 percent to 42 PJ year on year. This covers 2.1 percent of total energy consumption in the Netherlands. The main reason for this increase is the use of new solar panels.

The installed capacity of solar panels for solar power rose from 11 thousand MW in 2020 to slightly more than 14,400 MW one year later, representing an increase of around 31 percent. This growth is less substantial than in 2020. Twenty percent of the installed solar panels are in solar parks and 80 percent are on roofs or as solar car parking shades.

Wind and solar energy consumption
JaarOnshore wind energy ( Petajoules (PJ))Offshore wind energy ( Petajoules (PJ))Solar energy ( Petajoules (PJ))
* Provisional figures ** Revised provisional figures