Theory, Evidence and Policy
Edited by Boelie Elzen, Frank W. Geels and Ken Green
Chapter 6: The Transition from Coal to Gas: Radical Change of the Dutch Gas System
Aad Correljé and Geert Verbong INTRODUCTION From the early 1960s onwards, a new system of gas supply was introduced in the Netherlands, based on the massive amounts of natural gas found in Groningen, in the north of the country. The subsequent construction of a gas transport network made this gas available throughout the country and Western Europe. It provided the Dutch economy with a relatively cheap, reliable and clean source of energy, while households enjoyed the conveniences of gas-ﬁred central heating, cooking and hot water supply. The enormous revenues the state was able to collect permitted the growth and maintenance of the generous Dutch welfare state (Correljé et al., 2003). At the time of the discovery of Groningen, a signiﬁcant shift in the Dutch energy economy was already taking place. Figure 6.1 illustrates the evolution of Dutch energy use. The transition from coal to oil had started long before the extraordinary opportunities oﬀered by the Groningen gas accelerated the restructuring of the energy sector. Coal was confronted with competition from increasingly low-cost oil products from the end of the 1950s onwards. Even before the Second World War, the importance of coal had started to fall, and between 1952 and 1962 the share of coal fell from 80 per cent of total energy consumption to below 50 per cent, coal being supplanted by oil. However after 1962 the exponential growth of energy consumption was completely covered by natural gas. Within a decade natural gas had become the major...
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