The Netherlands

100% sustainable energy by 2030


Summary and review of Urgenda Report


March 20, 2014

Last Friday, March 14, 2014, I was at an event of Urgenda due to the publication of the report 'The Agenda: Netherlands 100% sustainable energy by 2030' (download report). Marjan Minnesma, director of Urgenda, presented the report enthusiastically and with belief, in an, as always, beautiful dress. This is a summary of her presentation and the report. Urgenda is an organisation which focusses on, and pushes, sustainability and innovation in the Netherlands. 

Marjan Minnesma mentioned several times that this goal of 100% sustainable energy by 2030 is not about whether it is doable (because it is), but whether we want it. More specifically, whether politicians want this. That must be clear at the beginning since most of it depends on that statement. Furthermore, the report delves into 5 times difference: 5 different themes which need to be adjusted in order to reach the 100% sustainable energy goal.

  1. The first theme is 'Living differently' (sustainable housing). The built environment contributes a third to all carbon dioxide emissions in the Netherlands. Therefore, sustainable housing is imperative when aiming for the 100% sustainable energy by 2030. In this scenario, households and offices will use 45% less energy, fossil fuels will no longer be used, and we will generate as much energy as possible from the direct surroundings of buildings. New households will already have to be energy neutral by 2020 due to EU regulations. The report further delves into the how of these goals and describes several sub-goals. Then, at the end, like in all other subsequent chapters, there is a page with practical tips which you can do:

  1. Every new appliance that I buy is low in energy consumption.

  2. All my lamps are LED and I apply stand-by killers in outlets.

  3. I isolate where necessary.

  4. I will generate my own energy with solar panels for electricity and/or heat.

  5. I quit using gas and will heat my house differently and cook electric.

  6. I will generate energy together with the neighbourhood or with other collectives.


  1. Different from A to B (cleaner, quieter and with less energy): the carrying trade and passenger transport contribute for 24% to the total CO2 emissions, excluding international shipping and air. Furthermore, the sector contributes much with regards to particulate matter and NOx, there are problems due to noise and smell, and space is occupied by roads and parking-lots. Of the total energy consumption of the transport sector, over 70% is due to personal cars. Therefore, the report suggests to focus on stimulating the use of electric cars with 75% by 2030 and the rest could drive on biodiesel, bio-ethanol or bio-CNG. Trucks will drive for 45% electric en for 45% on bio-CNG, and a mixture of biodiesel and bio-ethanol. In the future, Urgenda believes the transport sector will be a hybrid one: a combination of public and individual transport. In addition, bicycling should be stimulated even more (whether electric or not), although in the Netherlands most of the people already use their bicycle. Cars functioning as small trains and/or driving on their own does not seem to be so far fetched due to current innovations and technology. Then there is the page of 'What you can do':

  1. Under the 20 km I will bicycle as much as possible.

  2. I will share my car more often and join a car sharing project.

  3. My next car will be electric.

  4. Within Europe, I do not travel under 1500 km with an airplane.

  5. By working at home and by using teleconferences I travel less.


  1. Eating differently: Food production and consumption is a large contributor to GHG emissions (14% of total GHG emissions worldwide directly) and animal breeding and agricultural production drive deforestation, land conversion from cropland to pasture, and biomass reductions which all contribute to even more GHG emissions (17% of total GHG emissions worldwide). The energy use should be reduced by 20% and the rest should come from geothermal and other heating possibilities of the surrounding. The rest would be generated by cogeneration installations and central sustainable energy generation. In addition, we need to shift from animal to natural proteins by using more algae, soya, chickpeas, and the like. For instance, at the event, we enjoyed the 'Weed Burger', a burger made from algae, and a lovely vegetable lentel soup. Furthermore, we need to stop wasting food. In total, we throw 30% of our food away. This is too much, so measures need to be taken. Therefore, we need to reduce this by 20% by 2015 and 80% by 2030. Smart and sustainable use of food products could be the answer. And finallly, the energy used by agriculture can be reduced. Then there are practical tips and tricks for farmers, producers and consumers. And what are they for you?

    1. I eat more vegetables and natural proteins and some days of the week I don't eat meat.

    2. I buy mainly local and seasonal products.

    3. I will buy smarter and waste less.

    4. I buy only fish which is green on the sustainable fish list or I replace fish by (fish) oil or algae.

    5. If I eat fish, then it is not coming from the large scale industry.

    6. I support sustainable products.


It's possible if you want it!


  1. Producing differently: towards the circular, bio-based industry based on sustainable energy. To reach the goal of 100% sustainable energy by 2030, a reduction of 2% energy per year is necessary. The report furthermore delves into the issues of chemical industry, metal industry, paper industry, and construction and cement industries. The industries have to make a decision for the future. More has to be reduced and one can generate its own energy. More products and services should be shared, repaired and organized together. Sustainable products and 3D printing should be 'IT' by 2030, and consumers are aware, rather than unaware. So what can you do on this regard?

    1. Throw less away and investigate first whether it can be repaired or recycled.

    2. My company does not use oil as its main source, but only green (energy) sources.

    3. My company is running for 100% on sustainable energy.

    4. I choose a profession or company which fits into the vision of the circular economy.

    5. I will make more (myself), by using 3D printing.

    6. I become an 'aware' consumer and want to know what I buy and how it is made.


  2. Generating energy differently: So what is necessary to reach the goal of 100% sustainable energy by 2030? What kind of energy sources are necessary to use? Well, for a start, solar and wind. Then biomass as a back-up, as long as necessary. Wind and solar can be generated on large scale basis, but can also be used by households. Those households which cannot obtain a solar panel, could 'share/borrow' one from someone else, for instance a farmer. A similar measure can be implemented with regards to wind: a household can share of a windmill with other households. This is already possible, so let's upscale it! And what can you do?

    1. I participate in a shared windmill project.

    2. I participate in big solar-energy projects by for instance using the roofs of soccer stadiums.

    3. I vote for a political party which is in favour of solar and wind energy.

    4. Offsetting on my own roof stays possible and it will be extended to offsetting somewhere else (offsetting refers in this sense to the sale of green energy to the net with a rate similar as when you bought it).

    5. I'm a member of a local sustainable energy cooperation or buy green Dutch energy.

    6. I generate my own sustainable energy wherever I can (roof, garden or very small scale).


In the report, the aim is to reach 100% sustainable energy by 2030 in The Netherlands. With conservative and realistic numbers and scenario's, Urgenda shows that this is possible. A dream may come true, only if we all, including politicians, work to make it happen.


Download the report here.


So let's do this! And put those tips and tricks into practice!




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