The land known for its windmills produces barely any wind power

Just for show.
Just for show.
Image: Reuters
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When you think of the Netherlands, it’s hard not to think of windmills. And a country so famous for its windmills is probably pretty good at producing wind power, right?


And it’s not just wind power. In terms of renewable energy generally, the Netherlands ranks second to last among 35 members of the OECD by the share of its power it generates from renewables. It beats only South Korea, which suffers from deadly levels of pollution linked to heavy coal use.

Cheap access to fossil fuels—thanks to Royal Dutch Shell’s huge oil and gas fields—has also held back the country’s renewable push. Oil and gas contributes more than 75% of the country’s primary energy demand (pdf), and coal provides another 16%.

As a member of the EU, however, the Dutch cannot rely so much on oil for much longer. The EU’s renewable energy directive requires member states to increase their investment in low-carbon sources, and the Netherlands has promised to increase the contribution of renewable energy in its energy mix to 14% by 2020, from around 5% today.