Wind Power. A Comparison between Austria and the Netherlands

Bachelor Thesis, 2009

47 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table of Content

1 Introduction

2 Wind power in the Netherlands
2.1 Overview
2.1.1 Overall energy structure
2.1.2 Electric power sector
2.1.3 Renewable electricity production
2.2 Governmental actions to increase renewable (wind) energy
2.2.1 Wind energy policy 1975 - 1994
2.2.2 Policy performance between 1975 till 1994
2.2.3 Review of the wind power policy 1975-1994
2.2.4 Wind energy policy 1995 - 2007
2.2.5 Policy performance between 1995 till 2007
2.2.6 Review of the wind power policy 1995 – 2007
2.3 Summary

3 Wind power in Austria
3.1 Overview
3.1.1 Overall energy structure
3.1.2 Electric power sector
3.1.3 Renewable electricity production
3.2 Development of wind power in Austria
3.2.1 Wind energy policy from the 1970’s till 2008
3.2.2 Policy performance in Austria
3.2.3 Review of the wind power policy
3.3 Summary

4 Comparison

5 References


Since the 70’s in the 20th century, interest has risen into renewable resources. In order to reduce oil dependency and environmental damages, governments developed new energy strategies in Europe. As a result of this new approach, wind energy has recently developed into a real alternative to non-renewable resources. In this paper, wind energy is reviewed in two countries of the European Union, Austria and the Netherlands. The focus is lying on the policy, which should establish and promote wind energy of each country. A critical performance check of that policy and problems, which have appeared, will be performed and examined.


Energy policy, Wind power, Austria, the Netherlands

1 Introduction

The need for renewable energy in Europe

Fossil fuels are essential for energy purposes in the world. About 80% (91,000 TWh) of the total primary energy supply and 64% (9400 TWh) of the electricity generation were produced with gas, oil and coal in 1999 (Jacobsson/Bergek, 2004: 815). However, this dominance is in context of clear environmental and climate challenges. The burning of fossil fuels is the main source of carbon dioxide emissions and it is growing with a rate of 0.5% per year. Moreover, due to the fact that those fuels are finite, it will become more difficult and more expensive to pursue an economical exploitation of these resources (Agterbosch, 2006: 13-14).

The European Union is going to implement and to enhance renewable energy technologies in order to secure energy supplies and to reduce dependence (about 54% of primary energy consumption in 2005 was imported, in 2000: 51%; EEA, 2008). For this purpose a comprehensive climate change package (20/20/20 by 2020: Europe`s climate change and energy package) was introduced in 2008 (EP, 2008). According to this program each Member State of the EU has received legally binding targets to reach the 20% share of renewable energy in the EU`s overall energy consumption till 2020 (EEP, 2008a; EEP, 2008b).

Consequently, the government of each Member State is trying to stimulate with various measures and efforts the development and use of renewable energy.

This paper investigates the institutional and social conditions, which are responsible for the successful (and failed respectively) implementation of renewable electricity technologies of two Member States of the EU, Austria and the Netherlands. It focuses on wind energy for electricity generation, analyses the evolution of the wind power supply market and examines the liberalisation of the electricity market in both countries. The main objects of this thesis are:

- To investigate the way of each government, in how to boost and to enhance renewable (wind) energy in its country in the last decades.
- To contrast the assets with the drawbacks of each wind power policy.
And, based on these insights,
- To analyse, how comparative are those ways and which instrument is recommendable for the other country.

Structure of this thesis

Chapter 1 aims to explain the energy market in the Netherlands, gives information about recent wind energy policy of the government and the consequences of liberalisation. This chapter considers problems in context of wind power, which have appeared in the last 30 years.

Chapter 2 visualizes the development of wind power in Austria from the 1970’s till 2007. Furthermore, it also provides one policy performance check and one review about governments actions to enhance renewable (wind) energy.

Chapter 3 makes a brief comparison between the wind energy policy of Austria and the Netherlands.


For this thesis I used several resources of different libraries. For the part of the Netherlands, the library of University of Utrecht was essential with its digital journal network. For Austria, mainly the libraries of the Technical University of Graz and of the Karl-Franzens University were helpful to find information about wind power in Austria. Furthermore, the Austrian Wind Energy Association provided background details about the history and recent development of wind power.

2 Wind power in the Netherlands

This chapter provides useful information about the population, legislation system and energy market. It is necessary to get this background knowledge to understand the decisions, which the government have made in context of renewable resources.

2.1 Overview

The Netherlands has 16.4 million inhabitants (Eurostat, 2009). It is one of the world`s smallest countries with an area of 41.864 km² and highly overcrowded (402 people per km², EU 25: 117 per km²; Eurostat, 2009; BBC, 2009). In 2008, GDP per capita in the Netherlands, measured in using current purchasing power parities, was 33.900 €, which is higher than the average (25.100 €) in the European Union (EU 27) (Eurostat, 2009b)

The Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy and one of the six grounding members of the EU. The Queen, the Prime Minister and the Ministers constitute the government. The Netherlands has got a dual chamber system: the First Chamber and Second Chamber. Both form the Parliament (EREC, 2004).

Besides the state, lower authorities like Provinces, Municipalities and Water Boards also have legislative powers. In environmental affairs, the 12 provincial authorities possess major legislative powers, while the municipal authorities have important competencies in spatial planning (which is essential for new wind power projects) (EREC, 2004).

2.1.1 Overall energy structure

The total primary energy supply (TPES) was aggregated to 77.9 Mtoe in 2002. That was an increase of 17% in comparison to year 1990. In the same period the GDP of the Netherlands grew to 35%. Two major energy carriers were in use, natural gas with 46% and oil with 38.2% (see figure 1) (IEA, 2004: 17).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Total Primary Energy Supply of the Netherlands, 2002 (IEA, 2004: 17)

The high amount of natural gas results from the use of huge natural gas reserves in the north of the Netherlands. These reserves are still representing one of the largest gas resources in Western Europe (EREC, 2004). Coal was in use with 10.8% followed by combustible renewables and wastes (1.7%), nuclear (1.3%) and non-combustible renewable (0.1%) (IEA, 2004: 17).

2.1.2 Electric power sector

Figure 2 visualises the gross electricity generation by type in a time period from 1991 till 2006. The generation of electricity was increasing from ca. 72 TWh to 98 TWh in 2006. Remarkable is the high amount of natural gas for electricity generation, due to the comprehensive domestic supply (Eurostat, 2009c).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: Gross electricity generation by type (Eurostat, 2009c)

Since 1996 green electricity, generated by wind and biomass, has found its way into the Dutch national grid. At that time, the amount was only 3% for biomass and 1% for wind respectively, but in 2006, biomass doubled up to 7% and wind energy increased more than threefold. The reason behind this growth is following: The Dutch government introduced some benefits and premiums for renewable energy (wind, photovoltaic, biomass, and gas, heat and/or power from sewage and landfills) in order to be more independent from oil imports (Eurostat, 2009c).

2.1.3 Renewable electricity production

In the Netherlands, the first RD & D (Research, Development and Demonstration) programs for renewable energy technologies were established during the 70`s and 80`s (Wolsink, 1996; Junginger, 2005). The third Energy Report of the Netherlands, which was published in 1995, set a policy goal of 10% share from renewable energy sources in 2020. As mentioned above, the contribution of renewable energy was only 1.8% in 2004. However, that report explicitly underlined the electricity production of renewable resources. In accordance to the EU directive on renewable electricity (Directive 2001/77/EC), the Dutch government set a target of 9% share of electricity consumption in 2010 (Agterbosch, 2006: 15).

With the aid of investment subsidies, electricity production subsidies, tax exemptions and other policy instruments in order to force the green electricity industry, it was possible to increase the share of green electricity by almost a factor of 10 from 1991 to 2008 (see figure 3) (Junginger, 2005; CBS Statline, 2009a).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3: Renewable Energy Production, 1990 to 2008; **estimated (CBS Statline, 2009a)

The Netherlands are operating only on small-scale hydroelectric power plants (installed capacity: 2 MW) (EREC, 2004). Of course, very large river courses, like the Maas, Schelde or Rhein, exist in the country. But for run-of-the-river hydro plants, it is necessary to use narrower rivers over sloping terrain. Then it is possible to get sufficiently fast flow rates to produce sufficient amounts of energy (IEA, 2000; see also CBS Statline, 2006). Unfortunately the terrain of the country is mainly coastal lowland and reclaimed land for most parts (CIA, 2009).

The amount of each source to renewable electricity production changed over time. Whereas the share of small hydropower was constant on a low level, biomass and more wind energy respectively have gained large shares of the production. Remarkable is also the new implementation of offshore wind facilities nowadays.

The ambitious goal of a 9% share of electricity consumption from renewable electricity resources is, according to Junginger (2005: 3-4), not in range. Several problems in production and social and institutional barriers are hindering the implementation of new facilities (see chapter 2.3).

2.2 Governmental actions to increase renewable (wind) energy

Institutional and social conditions are crucial to enhance renewable energy for any country. To stimulate that environment for industrial producer, population and utilities that is the aim of the national government. This chapter provides the steps in Dutch wind power policy, which have been made in the last 30 years.

2.2.1 Wind energy policy 1975 - 1994

Until the 1970`s the Netherlands did not promote a explicit energy policy. Energy affairs were a part of the industrial policy in order to meet the energy demands of the industrial growth with low cost prices. The energy supply was mainly based on finite resources: coal, gas and oil (Kamp, 2002: 41).

The oil crisis in 1973 was the starting point for a new political change to develop and to introduce renewable energy, especially wind energy. The former minister of Economic Affairs, Mr. Lubbers, fundamentally changed the energy policy of the Netherlands at this time. Three guidelines were mentioned in his energienota 1974 (First White Paper on Energy): more efficient use of energy, more economic exploitations of resources and pushing back the dependency of imported oil (Wolsink, 1996: 1079, Luiten/Blok, 1999; see also Kamp, 2002: 41).

According to his energienota 1974, projects in relation to wind power received at first substantial support from the government. The first National Research Programme (NOW1) was introduced in 1976 (Luiten/Blok, 1999; Kamp, 2002: 44). The outcome of the 9 million € programme was that 10% of the domestic electricity demand could be provided by wind power, without complex and expensive storage systems (Wolsink, 1996: 1079).

Potential problems for example, the environmental impact of wind turbines and the progress in physical/spatial planning, were seen as small and solvable. The official goals for the next years until 2000: to install 1500 MW of large-scale wind power capacity and 350 MW of small-scale decentralized applications (Wolsink, 1996: 1079).

The following research programme (NOW2) started immediately after its predecessor, in 1982. The government was focused on the development of large-scale applications (Breukers/Wolsink, 2007: 96; Wolsink, 1996: 1079). The construction of a 5.4 MW wind farm with eighteen 300 kW machines started in a cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MEA) and the electricity producers in that year. Furthermore, the government supported the Dutch industry with 18 million € in order to stimulate the manufacture of large-scale wind turbines (Wolsink, 1996: 1079).

In the meantime a second assessment of wind power potential was carried out. The conclusion was that constraints in spatial planning and environmental affairs could minimize the potential wind power capacity. Consequently the Dutch government formulated a new goal in 1985: 1000 MW, generated from wind power facilities, by the year 2000 (Wolsink, 1996: 1080).

The third programme, the Integrated Programme Wind Energy (IPW), was established after the first two ones. The main purpose was not only R & D but also to prepare the market introduction of wind power (Kamp, 2002: 79).

Official goal of the programme was to boost the market and to support the turbine manufacturers. For market stimulation, the government spent 33 million € in form of subsidies for the investment in newly built turbines. However, the subsidy was reduced each year, in line with the expectation that technical improvement and a better economic ability minimize the costs of new wind turbines and wind farms respectively. This approach produced high pressure on the process of planning and issuing permits (Wolsink, 1996: 1080).

The effects of these subsidies on implementation were notable. The competition among turbine manufacturers from the Netherlands and abroad was increasing and the largest wind farm in Europe at that time with twenty-five 300kW turbines was built by a Belgium constructor (Wolsink, 1996: 1080).

The Dutch government introduced a new programme after the phase out of IPW. The Support Programme for Application of Wind Energy in the Netherlands (Toepassing Windenergie in Nederland, TWIN) was started for the years 1991-95 and had a volume of 20 million €. This money should be invested in technology and product development and market stimulation (including off-shore wind power research). The official goals were to install 1000 MW of wind power capacity by the year 2000 (as mentioned in 1985) and an intermediate TWIN goal of 400 MW in 1995 (Wolsink, 1996: 1080).

In 1990 new energy policy lines were established. The national environmental policy plan (NEPP) had set new limits for CO2 emissions (the amount should be in 1995 the same like in 1989 and an additional reduction of 3-5% should be achieved in 2000). The government formulated new tasks for the energy supply sector, e.g. to invest in energy conservation and in renewable resources such as wind, biomass and solar. The utilities cooperated with the new policy by introducing own Environmental Action Plans (MAP). From now on it was allowed to generate funds for their MAP with a tax on distributed electricity. Parts of this money could be invested in wind power. Some utilities installed a new project in wind resource regions; it was called “Wind Plan”. The aim was to realise additional 250 MW by the year 1994 (Wolsink, 1996: 1080; Breukers/Wolsink, 2007: 97).

2.2.2 Policy performance between 1975 till 1994

Figure 4 visualizes the installed power of wind energy in the Netherlands from 1985 till 1994. The capacity increased from 1985 onwards. In 1986 the total capacity was 9 MW, one year later; it grew to 22 MW (Wolsink, 1996: 1082). As the figure shows, the installed power was growing up year by year, but however; it was not enough to meet the intermediate TWIN goals of 400 MW in 1995. In that year only a wind power capacity of 250 MW was installed (CBS Statline, 2009b).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 4: Wind energy in the Netherlands Figure 5: Wind energy production in (Bruijne, 1995) comparison between the Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany and Denmark, 1980 to 1995 (Gripe, 1995: 37)

In comparison to neighbouring countries, in which the meteorological requirements are the same (like Denmark, Germany and Great Britain), the performance of the Netherlands was rather poor (see figure 5). Foremost Germany was able to achieve its goals in wind power (250 MW in 1995) with implementation rates of new turbines with 200 MW per year and a total installed capacity of 1137 MW in 1995 (Gripe, 1995: 37; Wolsink, 1996: 1084). Also Denmark and Great Britain could enhance their wind energy production much more than the Netherlands.

Why did the implementation rate of wind power lag behind the ambitious targets of the government? What were the reasons for that delay? The next chapter argues some answers behind Netherland`s poor performance.

2.2.3 Review of the wind power policy 1975-1994

Utilities and the Ministry of Economic Affairs

In the 70`s the main policy actors were on the one hand, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MEA) and on the other hand, the SEP (Samenwerkende Electriciteits Producenten), an organisation of cooperating power producers. According to its existing large-scale power production, future wind power concepts should be also in the same way: centralised and on a large-scale (Breukers/Wolsink, 2007: 96; Verbong/Geels, 2007: 1033; Gripe, 1995: 40). The MEA for example defined in a report, published in the early 1970’s, that a small-scale wind power production unit should contain between 20 to 30 turbines (Breukers/Wolsink, 2007: 96).

Although the first investors in wind turbine and project development were private (in general environmentally motivated initiatives) in those years, the MEA created its own alliance with major power producers, MEA-related agencies and research institutes. The lion’s share of the money received the SEP, which were responsible for future wind projects (Breukers/Wolsink, 2007: 96; Wolsink, 1996: 1084). Especially in the technological development of multi-megawatt wind turbines should be invested, in times, when the technology was neither in readiness nor reliable for such large machines (Breukers/Wolsink, 2007: 96).

These projects failed. Most of the large turbines broke down in testing phase or did not perform very well (Verbong/Geels, 2007: 1033). Also the experimental wind farm of the SEP (it was embedded into the NOW2 programme) had serious problems at the planning and building and also the operational stage. For the SEP it was the last wind power scheme and after this drawback, the focus for further development was lying on small-scale wind turbines (Verbong et al., 2001 in Breukers/Wolsink, 2007: 96).

According to the new energy policy at the beginning of the 90’s, the utilities formulated a new 250 MW programme, dubbed: Wind Plan. However, this programme was suffering from unexpected delays, ‘cause of the utilities’ inexperience with spatial planning and local politics. Additionally short-term capital subsidies generated more pressure on the SEP and more problems at the level of local politics as well (Wolsink, 1996: 1084).

Another problem was the buy-back tariff of the SEP to private investors in wind energy. The rates of electricity delivered to the grid were much lower as the rates for purchasing energy in times with low wind speed. Comparing with Germany (85%), Denmark (142%) and the UK (189%), the Dutch buy-back tariff was only 55% of the consumer prices in 1994. Those countries had a better performance rate in wind energy (see figure 5) (Wolsink, 1996: 1084).


Excerpt out of 47 pages


Wind Power. A Comparison between Austria and the Netherlands
University of Graz  (URBI)
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Energy policy, Wind power, Austria, the Netherlands, Windkraft, Erneuerbare Energien, Energiepolitik, Österreich, Niederlande
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Dipl.-Ing. Florian Buchner (Author), 2009, Wind Power. A Comparison between Austria and the Netherlands, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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