The Dutch electricity grid and renewable energy

The electricity grid is the cable network that distributes electricity throughout the Netherlands. Electricity is generated in power plants, such as a coal-fired power plant, a solar park or a wind farm. The electricity is then transported across the country via high-voltage cables. Distribution stations and transformer houses convert the high voltage electricity into electricity we can use at home. But the power grid cannot always handle the large amount of renewable electricity.

Grid operators are struggling to keep up with the Netherlands’ increase in sustainable energy. More and more households have solar panels, a heat pump and/or a charging station. There is also an increase in large-scale solar and wind projects on land and at sea. As a result, the availability of grid capacity does not sufficiently match the number of developments. Scarce grid capacity is therefore jeopardizing the Dutch economy and energy transition. To relieve the pressure on the electricity grid, grid operators are working hard to strengthen cables and build and expand high- and medium-voltage substations.

Don’t we already have enough renewable energy?

No. By 2050, the Netherlands’ energy supply must be sustainable and CO2 neutral. The transition to a sustainable energy supply is important to combat climate change and to be energy independent. In the Climate Agreement, it was agreed to strive for a 70% share of renewable electricity in total electricity production by 2030. Almost half of the 2023 electricity production in the Netherlands came from renewable sources. This means we made some big steps already, but we are not there yet.

Renewable power (i.e. electricity) is only part of the total amount of renewable energy. Final energy use in the Netherlands consists of three components; heat (55 percent, mainly buildings and industry), transportation (25 percent, mainly road traffic and air travel) and electricity use (20 percent). As stated before, with renewable electricity, we are halfway there in 2023. However, total renewable energy is only at 13 percent. More wind turbines and solar parks, among other things, must be developed to reach 100% by 2050.

In addition, the demand for electricity will increase in the coming years because of the electrification of industry, and due to electric driving, cooking and heating. PBL calculates that in 2030 this will amount to about 24 percent of final electricity use. So more renewable energy projects are necessary.