Between Belgium and The Netherlands there is an historic rivalry. One want to be better than the other. Apparently it is no different in their 100%-renewables goal.
Here the attempt of the Belgians: last year the Federal Planning Bureau of Belgium published a study on the influence of the complete conversion to renewables on job creation. In it they foresee the conversion towards 100% renewable power in 2050. It would create 21,000 to 65,000 full time jobs in 2030 and it would cost us only 20% more.
The Dutch couldn’t stay behind: a couple weeks ago, Urgenda came with a plan to transform The Netherlands towards 100% renewable energy. This transformation would not take until 2050, but, wait for it, will already be done in 2030! More, it would be cheaper than continue with fossil fuels, would give a reliable and affordable energy system, creates 150,000 jobs in the process, gives energy security and is a motor of innovation. According to the report, there aren’t technical limitations: if the Dutch want it, they can do it.
But now back to reality…
There are some similarities between both plans. They both rely heavily on a radical change in our society. According to the plan they need to change their way of living, transport, eating, manufacturing and producing energy. The predominant choice of renewables are only wind and solar power, with initially some biomass as backup.
What? How on earth can a reliable and affordable energy system be build on intermittent energy sources? Those sources are dependent on the presence of wind and sun, not on consumption patterns. This means the need of a more controllable backup power that kicks in when there is not enough wind and sun. They seem to do that initially with biomass, but they assume that with the future smart grid and with future innovations in storing electricity there will be no need for backup plants anymore…
In the report they claim that it can be done in 20 year. Huh? It is only 16 year until 2030. When looking deeper this is because they start with calculations from 2011 on. That is in fact 19 years, but okay, close enough. So if Urgenda says that The Netherlands need starting to act “immediately” to make this happen, this means they should to be already several years into it. If the data of 2014 is the same as it was in 2011, then they have three (four) years less to reach their goal. If the data of 2014 is worse than the data of 2014, they are even more years behind schedule. Only when the data of 2014 is better than that of 2011, they could be on schedule. Otherwise they will have to catch in.
The numerous jobs are impressive, but I heard that green-job-fairytale before. They claim 150,000 jobs that “weren’t there”. Would that be 150,000 jobs “extra” in the Netherlands? How many other jobs would be lost by the plan? How many other jobs of those for one renewable job?
The “Groene Rekenkamer” (the Green Audit Office) found many other problems that would make it impossible for Urgenda to reach their goal: the plan requires making 1,000 houses energy neutral per work day, more electric cars need to be sold than are produced in the entire world,…
An additional catch: they claim that they can not wait for the Government to act. Sure, they are already suing the Dutch Government because the Government is acting too slow. So for it to happen they only need the immediate action of all citizens, companies as well as the Dutch Government.
Reality is apparently not their strongest side.