100% energy-neutral by 2050 is the long-term goal for the Dutch government when it comes to environmental policy. During the past elections in March the environment was not the most prominent subject of debate, but during the formation the environment may turn out to be a major obstacle, as the opinions of the major parties differ a lot. 2050 is still 33 years ahead of us, but the time is now to force big changes in our treatment of the environment. Luckily, some parts of the Netherlands are way ahead of the national government, with Goeree-Overflakkee being the best example.
Goeree-Overflakkee is an island and municipality in the south of the province of South Holland. The inhabitants of Goeree-Overflakkee do not want to wait until 2050 to become 100% energy-neutral, but are planning to be so in 2020 already. Being Energy-neutral means that companies and consumers consume as much energy as they generate themselves. The inhabitants of Goeree-Overflakkee are very well on their way. In just a few years, large amounts of green energy projects have been set up and the energy-neutrality goal is approaching the halfway mark.
It is safe to say that Goeree-Overflakkee can serve as a good example to the rest of the Netherlands and even for the rest of the world. But how did they achieve such an astonishing growth in energy neutrality in such a brief amount of time?
Of course, the people of Goeree-Overflakkee care about the planet and want to preserve the beautiful world that has been given to us, but the main incentive is actually economic. Becoming energy-neutral is a long-term investment with big cost-minimization for the future. However, the process of becoming energy-neutral is very complex and requires a lot of expertise in the field. This is the factor that gives Goeree-Overflakkee a competitive advantage as there are a lot of consultancy companies in this sector on the island.
The technical knowledge on becoming energy-neutral can become a major export product for the island Goeree-Overflakkee, and should be a major export product for the Netherlands as well. The time is now for the Dutch government to invest in the consultancy companies to make energy-neutrality attractive to everybody. There is an opportunity for the Netherlands to create a competitive advantage when it comes to climate policy, and we should take it.