Dutch coalition government pledges support for wind power

THE NETHERLANDS: After three years of minimal movement in the Dutch wind industry, a new coalition government sworn in last month wants to revive the sector and boost deployment, particularly in the case of offshore wind.

Although the government is still formulating its plans, the industry is very hopeful, said Ton Hirdes, director of Dutch wind energy association NWEA.

The government has committed to sourcing 16% of the country's final energy consumption from renewables by 2020, an increase on its previous target of 14%. So the new government has pledged EUR2.4 billion of extra funding to 2020 for the renewables incentive scheme known as SDE+.

Growth required

While it is not yet clear what role the different renewable technologies will play, nor how the money will be allocated, the Dutch bank ING estimates that meeting the target will require an additional 12GW of wind energy, up from the current 2.48GW.

In regard to offshore wind, all that the coalition has said so far is that it will streamline the permitting process and work with the industry to bring costs down. But this is still good news for a sector that has been on hold since 2011, when the previous government announced that offshore wind was too expensive and scrapped the target of 6GW by 2020.

Cost is still likely to be a crucial factor, however, especially given government plans to cut spending by EUR28 billion by 2017. The coalition has said it will continue to support the Green Deal, a joint initiative launched with the wind industry in 2011, which promises to cut the cost of offshore wind by 40% by 2020.