Future of Dutch wind energy at stake in knife-edge election

A knife-edge general election in the Netherlands could see its government swing towards a faster roll-out of renewables, maintain its course or pivot away from climate concern with four parties almost neck and neck in the polls ahead of Wednesday’s vote. 

PvdA-GL leader Frans Timmermans (L), VVD leader Dilan Yesilgoz (C) and NSC leader Pieter Omtzigt (pic credit: Sem van der Wal /ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

On Tuesday (21 November) analysis website Politico’s ‘poll of polls’ had the centre-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) on 18%. The Labour Party and Green Links coalition (PvdA-GL) was narrowly behind on 16%, tied with centrist New Social Contract (NSC) also on 16%. 

In fourth, the far-right Party for Freedom was polling just a single point behind on 15%. With no party expected to win an outright majority in the 150-seat House of Representatives, however, it and other smaller parties could see themselves as members of a future coalition government. 

The Dutch Wind Association (NWEA) told Windpower Monthly the VVD, PvdA-GL and NSC parties were supportive of the country's growing offshore wind development, with the PvdA-GL also backing onshore wind development provided local ownership was ensured. 

Climate crisis denial 

The NWEA meanwhile pointed out the far-right Party for Freedom denies the existance of the climate crisis and is "completely against wind energy". 

The centre-right VVD has ruled in government as the largest party in a centre-right coalition since 2021 and has governed in various coalitions since 2010 under the leadership of Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The veteran leader is stepping down after 13 years and has handed the reins of the VVD to its new leader, Dilan Yesilgöz, who is bidding to become the country’s first female prime minister. 

In power, the VVD has supported the roll-out of renewables in the country. In particular, this includes new offshore wind developments in the Dutch North Sea, targeting 21GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030 alongside a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The 21GW target remains in its current policy proposals according to the NWEA. 

The Netherlands currently has over 9GW of wind energy capacity installed according to Windpower Intelligence, the data and research division of Windpower Monthly, the majority of which is onshore.  

The Labour-Green PvdA-GL ticket also supports decisive action on tackling the climate crisis and is led by Frans Timmermans, the former executive vice president of the European Commission, who led the bloc’s work on the European Green Deal before leaving his role to run in this year’s election. 

Netherlands 'vulnerable' to rising sea levels

Timmermans has previously vowed to accelerate the Netherlands energy transition and pointed out the country’s direct interest in confronting climate change due to its particular geography — much of the Netherlands is below sea level and is vulnerable to the rising sea levels anticipated in a faster-warming world. 

The PvdA-GL platform includes proposals to invest more in solar and wind energy roll-out across the country in a ‘Dutch Green Deal’, and backs the creation of a green hydrogen hub in north-western Europe. 

Despite the Netherlands’ pursuit of renewable energy in recent years, growing concerns over the rising cost of living have thrown doubt on the rapid renewables rollout in the country. 

Dutch farmers

A social movement of Dutch farmers opposing a tax on nitrate — introduced to reduce high  emissions linked to fertilisers — led to the birth of the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB), which is currently polling at 4% according to Politico. 

The third-placed NSC is led by veteran MP Pieter Omtzigt, who has courted BBB supporters by vowing to scrap the nitrate tax in favour of policies “based on reducing actual emissions”. 

The NSC backs North Sea offshore wind development but opposes commercial scale onshore wind. 

Far-right Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders meanwhile denies the existance of the climate crisis, and his party’s manifesto includes a proposal to “stop the reduction in CO2” while vowing to keep coal power stations open.