The Dutch dilemma

Written by Chiara Crognoletti

The Netherlands are now the second country in terms of electric cars on the road: 4% of all cars sold last year were electric. But where does the power comes from? The country recently built three new coal-fired power plants, which supply the increasing demand of electricity.

Thanks to tax incentives and the high cost of gasoline, electric cars are becoming more and more popular. However, countries that get most of their energy from dirty sources could actually worsen their pollution, shifting CO2 emissions from the cities to the outskirts. This is the case of China, where sales of electric cars are increasing but where energy mostly comes from coal.

The Netherlands are the ideal place to develop the market of electric cars: the country can be easily crossed on a single charge, it is easy to install plugs in the streets and the taxi fleet is turning electric. However, even if they are increasing the proportion of clean energy, coal still provides 30% of the electricity and the country is probably going to miss the 2020 emission goals set by the EU.

Experts say that benefits from electric cars vary widely, depending on the electricity mix: if electricity mostly comes from coal, a gasoline car could be better than an electric car. The Netherlands still have some work to do in this regard: wind power and solar energy could be better exploited to develop an effective market for electric cars, actually helpful in the reduction of pollution.