The Energy Report Minister Verhagen sent to parliament in June has had a mixed reception from the public. Some have called his approach to energy policy ‘pragmatic and realistic’, while others accuse Verhagen of ‘postponing difficult choices’. However you interpret his plans, one thing is certain: clear communication regarding the future of energy is essential for the success of any energy policy.
The future of energy in the Netherlands
As a country blessed with large gas reserves, the Netherlands has not worried about its energy supply for many years. Gas, our primary energy source, could amply meet our energy requirements. Due to the growing demand for energy, international climate objectives and prognoses regarding the exhaustion of energy sources, however, the Netherlands is now faced with the challenge of finding an appropriate energy mix for the future.
To keep pace with our energy demand in the coming years and to achieve environmental objectives, there will be drastic changes to our energy management. New technology and methods for energy generation will have to be discovered and deployed to ensure our future energy supply.
As the CO2 storage in Barendrecht and the Urk windmill park have demonstrated, social support is crucial for the successful deployment of new technologies. As long as civilians continue to object to the generation of ‘new’ energy it will be difficult to implement any energy policy choice.
Creating social support for new energy solutions
What is necessary for public acceptance? Quite simply: clarity and vision. It has to be clear what we are all working towards in the Netherlands where energy concerned and, in particularly, why. Citizens will then be far more willing to accept a windmill or gas storage in their neighbourhood. It is essential to clearly communicate to the public at large the objectives, the steps to be taken to achieve those objectives and any risks we may encounter in the future.
Major changes are simply inevitable where energy is concerned. So let us ensure a soft landing through clear communication.