Why have a Regional Energy Strategy?

Why have a Regional Energy Strategy(RES)?

In the Netherlands we have begun with the large-scale generation of sustainable energy. Our country is becoming cleaner and quieter as we become fossil fuel-free. So we will have a better future for ourselves and our children.

Many public authorities and other parties want to be energy or carbon neutral. Residents are insulating their homes, putting solar-panels on their roofs and considering driving electric. And more companies are saving energy and moving to where sustainable energy is available. 

We are now doing this throughout the country. In the Netherlands, agreed measures are put in the Climate Agreement. Together we are going to significantly reduce CO2 emissions: by 49% in 2030 compared to 1990, and by 95% in 2050. This will help prevent the earth from warming by more than two degrees Celsius and facing widespread major problems.

The challenge we face is huge. Sooner or later everyone in the Netherlands will be affected by measures in the Climate Agreement. Fortunately the Netherlands has often proved to be dynamic and innovative. Our secure and enduring dykes and rivers are admired throughout the world.

The measures in the Climate Agreement require customised solutions. Where does sustainable energy generation, storage and transport of heat and electricity fit in our country? Both above and below ground. Space is scarce. And: how can we keep this affordable?

We can only achieve the goals by working together. Public authorities, residents, businesses, grid operators, energy collectives and social organisations need each other. The energy transition does not end at the council boundary. That’s why all these parties, together in 30 energy regions in the Netherlands, are making Regional Energy Strategies: the RES. 

What is the Regional Energy Strategy (RES)

To achieve the measures set out in the Climate Agreement, public authorities, residents, businesses, grid operators, energy collectives and social organisations need each other. The energy transition does not end at the council boundary. This is why these parties are working together on a Regional Energy Strategy: the RES. This is happening in 30 energy regions in the Netherlands. 

Together they consider the options. Where are suitable locations for generating sustainable energy? And how much? Should they choose wind turbines or go for a solar panel collective? Is there a connection to the electricity grid and can it cope with the energy? What heat sources are there that can be used to make neighbourhoods and buildings fossil gas-free? And: is there enough support among parties involved and is it financially viable? All these considerations together form the RES. The RES is a way of working together on the energy transition.

The RES is also a document in which each energy region makes and describes its own choices:

  • how much large-scale sustainable electricity on land – wind or solar – shall we generate and where?
  • how can we best utilise and distribute heat sources in the region?
  • how much energy can we store and is the energy network capable of transporting the electricity, heat or biogas?
  • how much energy can we save?
  • how can residents coproduce in sustainable energy, for instance by participating in revenues?

The RES 1.0 contains the most promising locations and projects and a schedule for implementation. 

As agreed in the Climate Agreement, energy regions shall together generate at least 35 TWh in large-scale sustainable electricity on land in 2030. This is a huge challenge for all regions combined.

Local, provincial and waterboard councils play an important role in the RES. Ultimately they are the ones who determine the RES.

Who decides what and when about the RES?

The draft RES was ready on 1st October 2020. The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) will carry out independent analyses. They will compare all draft RESs and do the sums. Regions will use these analyses to create a RES 1.0. It has been agreed in the Climate Agreement that the combined energy regions shall generate at least 35 TWh in large-scale sustainable electricity on land in 2030. And if the total is not 35 TWh? Then, in consultation with and especially between regions, ways will be sought on how to achieve this goal and what is needed to achieve it.  

Each region will develop the draft RES into a RES 1.0. This needs to be adopted by local, provincial and waterboard councils by July 2021. Each energy region will revise the RES every two years to accommodate new insights, innovations and experiences. This lets the RES evolve gradually. The RES focuses on 2030 and wherever possible 2050. So those involved will know what to expect in the future.

The projects and plans in the RES will be integrated into official spatial and environmental policy. Including local, provincial and national strategies on spatial planning and the environment. Participation is possible in all plans and projects. These need to have the necessary permits by 1st January 2025, so they can start. This is how we will reduce CO2 emissions by half by 2030 compared to 1990.

The challenge is huge, but so is its importance. We have successfully dealt with major challenges before in the Netherlands. So let’s work together on a better future for us and our children.

Animation explaining why the Netherlands is working on Regional Energy Strategies.

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