Import dependence, vulnerability and energy transitions in the Netherlands since 1800

Date: 9 March, 12.30-13.45
Venue: Ravelijn, RA 1247
Speakers: Dr. Rick Hölsgens


Energy is a crucial resource in any modern economy and a secure supply is vital for sustainable development. High dependence on foreign energy imports can put a country in a vulnerable position. The Dutch energy system is presently at the verge of what will become a new energy transition. The domestic extraction of natural gas will diminish in the near future, and the country will have to transform from a net exporter of natural gas into a net importer or towards domestic production of modern renewables. It is in this context of interest to study historical energy transitions and the role of import dependence therein. This paper sets out to answer to what extent the Dutch energy system was vulnerable to supply shocks due to import dependence and how this vulnerability influenced the sustainability of the Dutch energy system. I analyse what role the (perceived and real) vulnerability to possible supply shocks played in the crystallization of three previous energy transitions. I will elucidate the historical importance of energy vulnerability and will show that energy security is an important political theme in which the Dutch government actively managed the resource portfolio.