Economy - Figures
In 2018, coal consumption declined by 11 percent year-on-year. Coal is mainly used to generate electricity. It is the most used fuel for this purpose after natural gas. Consumption at coal-fired power stations dropped by 15 percent, partly due to the closure of two power stations in the second half of 2017. The remainder of consumption is primarily towards iron and steel production. This share of consumption was down by nearly 3 percent.
The supply of natural gas to the domestic market tends to fluctuate. Gas extraction has more than halved over the past five years, as part of a Dutch Cabinet decision to scale back gas extraction in Groningen province to zero by the year 2030. In 2018, gas extraction was reduced by one-sixth compared to one year previously. The decrease was strongest in 2015: by nearly one-quarter. Consumption remained more or less the same. Natural gas imports already saw a sharp rise as of 2014 while natural gas exports were scaled back. In 2018, gas imports exceeded exports for the first time.
In 2018, electricity consumption was more or less the same as in the previous year at 121 billion kWh. It has hovered around 120 billion kWh since 2005. Electricity is not only produced in the Netherlands itself but also imported from other countries. In 2018, imports rose by 4 bn kWh to nearly 27 billion kWh. Domestic production declined by 4 billion kWh to 113 billion kWh. This decline was fully on account of thermal or nuclear power stations that regularly supply to the national high-voltage grid (TenneT). On the other hand, the volume of locally generated electricity increased. This power is generated for example by installations that provide electricity to company networks, but also by wind, hydropower and solar installations.
Electricity generation from renewable sources rose by 8 percent to 18.0 billion kWh in 2018, up from 16.7 billion kWh in 2017. Wind turbines occupied the highest share at 55 percent, followed by biomass (27 percent), solar panels (nearly 18 percent) and hydropower (0.5 percent, not included in the chart). Production by solar panels was up in particular. In 2017, this share still amounted to 13 percent. The share of hydropower has remained stable in recent years. Within total electricity consumption, the share of renewable electricity increased from 14 percent in 2017 to 15 percent in 2018.
Before 2012, solar power production was of minor importance. The number of solar panels has increased year-on-year since then. In 2017, 2.2 billion kWh of solar energy was produced, rising to 3.2 billion kWh in 2018. This increase – by over 40 percent – is related to strong growth in the installed capacity of solar panels. This capacity grew by around 1,400 to 4,300 megawatts (MW) in 2018. Over half of this increase, approximately 800 MW, was on account of larger rooftop installations and solar fields. The remaining increase was on account of smaller installations, often seen on top of privately owned homes.
Wind farm installations in the Netherlands recorded hardly any growth in 2017 and 2018. On balance, the installed wind power capacity of onshore wind turbines increased slightly, by 90 MW to more than 3,300 MW. No turbines were built at sea and offshore capacity remained at nearly one thousand MW. Last year’s increase in electricity production from wind power was therefore limited: 3 percent, from 9.6 billion kWh to 9.9 billion kWh.
Electricity production from biomass rose by 2 percent to 4.8 billion kWh in 2018. Growth was tempered due to the fact that some large biomass installations at companies were shut down temporarily for maintenance. Biogas – mainly derived through fermentation of residues from agriculture and the food sector – also provided slightly less electricity after combustion in gas engines. Conversely, electricity production from biomass at power stations and from bio-waste at waste incinerators was up.