Industrial sector expects investment to rise by 30 percent

Manufacturers in the industrial sector expect to invest around 30 percent more in tangible fixed assets (such as buildings, machinery, transportation equipment or computers) in 2024 than they did in 2023. This large rise is partly due to investment that was originally planned for 2023 but has been postponed to 2024. Nearly one fifth of the investment in the industrial sector relates to improving sustainability and saving energy, according to business owners. Among firms in the energy supply sector, that proportion is more than half. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this following its spring survey of investment expectations.
The data for this study were collected between mid-January and mid-May 2024, by means of a survey of firms with 10 or more employees. Firms across five different sectors answered questions about their expectations for investment in tangible assets, such as buildings, machinery, transportation equipment or computers.

Largest increase expected in energy supply sector

Businesses in the energy supply sector are the most positive, expecting investment to rise by over a third in 2024. These are companies that trade in electricity, natural gas, steam and cooled air, or that are involved in the production or distribution of these products. Businesses in the water and waste management sector expect similar growth in investment. Of the firms surveyed, those in the construction sector are the gloomiest, expecting a decline in investment of one third relative to 2023.

The industrial sector expects to invest around 30 percent more in 2024, relative to 2023. Specifically, the electrotechnical and machinery sector (+60 percent), refineries and chemicals sector (+48 percent) and textile sector (+29 percent) all expect to invest more next year. However, businesses in the timber and building materials sector and the paper and printing sector expect to invest a quarter less next year.

Change in expected investment in 2024
 Expected investment (% change relative to previous year)
Energy supply34.4
Water and waste management32.0
Mining and quarrying-3.4
of which;
Electrotechnical and machinery60.2
Refineries and chemicals48.0
Textiles, clothing and leather29.4
Motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers25.6
Food and beverages19.4
Basic metals and metal products11.9
Other industry and repairs10.8
Paper and printing-23.0
Wood products and building materials-23.4

Biggest investment in sustainability expected in energy supply sector

On average, companies in the industrial sector expect one fifth of their investment in 2024 to be in sustainability and energy conservation. Nearly 6 percent of expected investment relates to reducing emissions, and over 5 percent to energy conservation (such as insulation or solar panels). Almost 5 percent of investment relates to circular production (reuse of raw materials and waste materials), and over 3 percent to digital investment. Within the industrial sector as a whole, the textile, clothing and leather sector expects the most investment in sustainability and energy saving, in relative terms; this area is expected to account for around one third of total investment and to be aimed mainly at saving energy and circular production methods.

Of the five industrial sectors surveyed, the percentage of investment in sustainability is the highest in energy supply, at around 54 percent. The main goal is to save energy. Water and waste management firms expect around 27 percent of their investments to be in sustainability in 2024. Energy conservation also plays a big role here, as does circular production. In the construction sector, one fifth of expected investment in 2024 relates to sustainability. Investment in sustainability in the construction sector focuses mainly on reducing emissions.

Expected investment by category, 2024
 Reducing emissions (%)Saving energy (%)Circular production practices (%)Digital (%)Other (%)
Energy supply6.946.
Water and waste
Mining and

Industry was the biggest investor in 2022

In 2022, large industrial firms made the largest investment in tangible fixed assets, at over 10.4 billion euros. Within the wider industrial sector, refineries and the chemical sector were the largest investors, at 3.1 billion euros. The food and beverage sector was the second largest investor in 2022, at 2.2 billion euros.

Large businesses in the energy supply sector invested around 5.6 billion euros in tangible fixed assets in 2022. Of the five industrial sectors surveyed, the mining and quarrying sector invested the least in buildings, machinery or other fixed assets, at half a billion euros.

Investment in intangible fixed assets, 2022*
 Investment (bn euro)
Energy supply5.6
Water and waste management1.6
Mining and quarrying0.5
of which;
Refineries and chemicals3.1
Food and beverages2.2
Electrotechnical and machinery1.9
Basic metals and metal products1.3
Other industry and repairs0.5
Wood products and building materials0.4
Paper and printing0.4
Motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers0.4
Textiles, clothing and leather0.1
*provisional figures