Sustainable climate transition of the Dutch industry

Published on 15 April 2021

The Dutch Parliament passed a new Climate Act in May 2019, which mandates the Netherlands to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 49% in 2030 compared to 1990 levels, and by 95% in 2050. The National Climate Agreement, adopted in June 2019, translates this national target into sectoral objectives for 2030. In order to accelerate and support the decarbonisation of the industry, the Dutch government is planning to introduce new policy instruments by the end of 2020, including a carbon levy and enhanced subsidy programmes such as the Sustainable Energy Transition Incentive Scheme (SDE++).

In this context, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy will benefit from the support of the OECD who performed between 2020 and 2021 an evaluation of the consistency, cost-efficiency and comprehensiveness of the toolbox of instruments in place in the Netherlands to reach the long-term decarbonisation objectives. The overall evaluation process of the OECD can be broken down into four key components (see below). Berenschot (and its partners) contributed to the study of the OECD by producing background research reports for task 1 and task 4 (in bold).

  1. Formulating a zero emissions scenario and roadmap for selected industry sectors towards 2050.
  2. Assess economic mechanisms through which the cost of the transition (e.g. investment + cost of energy and feedstock) feeds back into the competitiveness of the Dutch and foreign industries and affects sector’ market shares;
  3. Assessment of the impact of several policy instruments in the Netherlands and the rest of the World (including environmental subsidies, carbon levy, ETS and targeted innovation subsidies)
  4. Assessment of consistency and comparison of ‘the reference 2050 scenario’ results with existing scenarios for 2030 and 2050, with a specific focus on four industry sectors.

The first part of the project (task 1) resulted in a decarbonisation scenario with a 2050 horizon (thereafter “the OECD-reference scenario”) focusing on the 4 main emitting industries of the manufacturing sector: chemical industry, metallurgy, refineries and the food processing industry. The OECD reference scenario was modelled using the Energy Transition Model (ETM).

The fourth part of the project (task 4) – performed by Berenschot and E3-Modelling - includes three different assessments: (1A) assessment of mid-term consistency, between different 2030 scenarios for the Netherlands and the 2050 reference scenario, (1B) assessment of long-term consistency, between different 2050 scenarios for the Netherlands and the OECD reference scenario and (2) assessment of European/global consistency, between different European and global scenarios for 2050 and the reference scenario.

Overall we conclude that analysed Dutch industry transition scenarios for 2030 differ mostly in terms of electrification and are more or less in line with the 2050 OECD reference scenario and do not seem to pose a lock-in for the long-term. However, (longterm) consistency for industry scenarios for 2050 do differ significantly regarding biomass usage, CCS, hydrogen, total industrial energy demand and electrification. When comparing national industry scenarios to international scenarios, comparison is difficult because of the different boundary conditions. However, there are some common features between the different studies.

The below figure shows total net energy consumption of the industry of all scenarios, and provides a key insight from both of the supporting studies. In this figure the OECD reference scenario, KIVI, and two of the TNO scenario’s for 2050 are compared.

Based on below – and other figures in the report – we draw the following conclusions:

  • Scenario narratives have a profound impact on the resulting energy mix in the industry
  • Energy mixes are comparable in 2030, but diverge in 2050
  • High industrial consumption of biomass potentially problematic
  • OECD seems to be taking the middle ground regarding industrial energy demand
  • Installed capacities for electricity generation comparable in 2030 but diverge in 2050.
  • Aligning scenario model output(s) improves comparability and policy development


Findings above and other insights provided input for the final evaluation report that was prepared by the OECD. The final OECD industry transition evaluation report can accessed here.

Joachim Schellekens_klein

Joachim Schellekens
Senior consultant


Rutger Bianchi_klein

Rutger Bianchi
Senior consultant


Bert den Ouden_klein

Bert den Ouden
Associated consultant