Saturday, May 27, 2017

What the U.S. Could Learn from the Dutch on Climate Change

The Netherlands environmental minister highlights the nation’s offshore wind plans, and their perennial battle with high seas.

The Gemini wind farm includes 150 turbines in the North Sea. (Image Credit: Netherlands Embassy) Click to Enlarge.
Earlier this month, the Netherlands completed one of the largest offshore wind farms in the world, as an accelerating wind boom finally helps the country make real progress on its renewable energy goals.

The 600-megawatt Gemini wind park, operating 150 turbines in the North Sea, will serve some 1.5 million citizens.  Several other major offshore wind farms are under development as well, which will collectively push total wind capacity to nearly 4.5 gigawatts by 2023 (see The Wind Fuels the North Sea’s Next Energy Boom).

“As a country we were heavily dependent on fossil fuels, and our way to renewables has been bumpy,” Sharon Dijksma, the nation’s minister for the environment, told MIT Technology Review this week.  “So this government decided that we needed to step up the pace.”

Indeed, the Netherlands had to take bigger swings to meet a binding requirement to reach 14 percent renewable energy sources by 2020 under a European agreement, as well as emission reduction targets under the Paris climate accords.  Clean energy sources currently account for around 6 percent of generation there, lagging well behind most of its European peers.

“When you have enough gas in the ground, you’re not so much looking for anything else,” Dijksma said.  “We were spoiled by natural resources.”

Offshore wind was the logical technology bet for a nation that doesn’t have a lot of sun or much undeveloped land, but does sit adjacent to the breezy North Sea.

Dijksma highlighted the nation’s recent renewable strides at the Climate is Big Business summit this week in San Francisco, one stop in a longer "California mission" to boost collaboration with the state on climate and energy issues.

Read more at What the U.S. Could Learn from the Dutch on Climate Change

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