Dutch government in offshore wind push

New coalition to improve permitting and support cost-cutting efforts

The new Dutch coalition government has said it wants to revive the country's offshore wind industry, which has been on hold since 2011. No details have emerged as yet, but the government indicated it will streamline the permitting process and work with the industry to bring costs down.

The change in policy is partly attributed to the centre-left Labour party, which supports offshore wind energy, joining the coalition. "The industry is very hopeful," said Ton Hirdes, director of the Dutch Wind Energy Association. While the government is still formulating its plans, it is "really serious" about offshore wind, Hirdes said.

The Netherlands originally committed to generating 20% of final energy from renewable sources by 2020, requiring 6GW of offshore wind. However, in 2011 the government reduced the target to 14% as part of a cost-cutting exercise and scrapped the goal for offshore wind, declaring it to be too expensive.

The new government has now increased the renewables target to 16% but has not yet specified how this is to be met. Renewable energy currently accounts for just over 4% of the energy mix in the Netherlands.

The cost of offshore wind is still likely to be a crucial factor, with the government tabling spending cuts of €28bn over the next four years. The coalition has said it will continue to support the Green Deal, an initiative launched in 2011 by the wind industry and the government which aims to cut the cost of offshore wind by 40% by 2020 through innovation coupled with more favourable regulation and policy.

The Netherlands has 228MW turning offshore, split between Egmond aan Zee (108MW) and Princess Amalia (128MW). Three other projects with a combined capacity of 730MW have been permitted and awarded a subsidy under the Subsidieregeling Duurzame Energie (SDE) incentive programme.