Climate love

Wil Sillen

6 w

Rob Jetten

Climate love

What will the Dutch energy system look like in 2050? Experts and citizens advise Minister Jetten

By: Hannah van der Korput
A new, sustainable energy system is needed to limit climate change. But what will that look like? Minister for Climate and Energy Rob Jetten has asked a group of experts from various fields to sketch the future energy system. A climate-neutral Netherlands in 2050 is the main goal. The expert team handed over its final report to the minister today.
Bernard ter Haar, chairman of the Energy System 2050 expert team, compares the energy transition to a major renovation. “It's a big job. Renovating is always less fun than the end result. But we know why the renovation is necessary,” he says. Ter Haar is convinced that a climate-neutral Netherlands is achievable by 2050. But then the pace must be increased considerably.

Where most energy advice starts with a technical state of affairs, the Expert Team will start precisely in 2050. Through backcasting, based on the desired final picture, it reasons what needs to be done in the coming decades. This will prevent the Netherlands from getting stuck in bottlenecks that mean little in the long term.

Minister Jetten is pleased with this dot on the horizon. “Of course, we are already fully engaged in the energy transition. In the coming years, we will take gigantic steps with offshore wind. The Netherlands is already a leader in solar energy. We are working on the energy law, the heat law and so on. But there is also a feeling of discomfort at the ministry. We are running hard to shape the sustainable energy system, but what is the dot on the horizon? What will that energy system look like in 2050? And what does that mean for the choices you make now? It's all interrelated,” says Jetten.

Vision of the future
According to the experts, the Netherlands will look different and better in 2050 than it does now. Energy no longer comes from fossil fuels. As a result, the Netherlands is also cleaner, quieter and greener. The transition to 2050 is much more than a technical exercise. It also concerns matters such as health, education, the environment and living environment, social cohesion, personal development and (in)safety. The Netherlands is becoming a pleasant society in which we travel more by public transport and less by car. In which we live in compact green cities and villages with facilities within walking distance. The rural area is more varied: with less livestock farming and with the cultivation of other crops, including for natural resources. In short, an economy focused on prosperity and well-being.
How do you bring people along?
Those are nice plans, but how do you get people on board? Linda Steg is a member of the expert team based on her expertise in environmental psychology. “End perspective is very important,” explains Steg. “We must not only say that we are doing something, but also why. If people know and understand that, their willingness will increase many times over.” According to Steg, the feeling of togetherness and collectivity also plays a major role. “The energy transition is not a solo action. We must work together. That sense of coherence can also make a difference. When you feel like you're on your own, it can feel lonely and demotivating. You can share the burden together,” she says

Local energy systems
The report also points to the potential of local energy systems. The idea is that consumers – whether or not in partnership – produce, trade, store and use energy. A lot of energy remains in the neighborhood and residents can benefit from this. Maarten Hajer is convinced that neighborhoods will play an important role in the energy issue. With his background in political science and urban planning, he is also a member of the expert team. “Cooperatives of local residents can work very well. It has a functional and social role. For example, a neighborhood battery can supply several households with energy and literally connect the neighborhood. That increases social cohesion,” he says. Hajer also points to the legislation. “There is still a lot to gain. What you see in Germany and Switzerland, for example, is that cooperatives have more options. A cooperative is a legal entity, which makes it possible to borrow money. That is very nice if you want to invest in a local energy supply. This is not yet possible in the Netherlands. Hopefully in the future.”
Advice from citizens
The expert team also involved citizens in the research. Inhabitants from different parts of the Netherlands came together in a residents' council. They spent four Saturdays together discussing and advising on the energy system of the future. According to Jetten, this is a nice addition to the experts' research. “I was there myself for a day. On the way there I was curious: Which people would be so crazy as to voluntarily participate in such a residents' council and talk about the energy transition? Once there I was very impressed. Some people were already very active in the energy system, others found it interesting to think along and share ideas without too much experience. This initiative shows that every resident of the Netherlands who wants to can be involved in the major transitions we are currently facing.”

What now?
It will become clear later this year what exactly the minister will do with the advice of the experts and the residents' council. Then the cabinet will come up with the National Energy System Plan 2050 (NPE). Earlier, the minister said that this advice provides important building blocks for that plan.
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  • Sameen Shahid

    6 w

    2050 ? Are we sure we have got that long to change our ways 🤔

    • Munene Mugambi

      6 w

      The future is green, be part of it

      • Daniel Waweru

        6 w

        The future is promised, it looks so bright

        • Waigwa Monica

          6 w

          Great article. The future looks bright and I hope other countries can also project their energy future truthfully, and work towards that.

          • Jane Wangui

            6 w

            @waigwa_monica future does look brighter.

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