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Increased import of technology for energy transition.

At a time when the world is confronted with climate change, the energy transition plays a crucial role. In 2023, the Netherlands will have taken significant steps in this transition by importing 16,6 billion euros worth of technology that can be used for this. This is an increase of 13 percent compared to 2022, reports the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) based on new figures. The import of electric and hybrid cars is the largest category within this import, with the fastest growth.

Electric and hybrid cars accounted for an import value of 6,9 billion euros in 2023, representing an increase of 44 percent compared to the previous year. This highlights the shift towards more environmentally friendly modes of transport. In addition to cars, energy transition technology also includes solar panels, heat pumps, wind turbine components such as magnets, and equipment for energy storage and biofuels.

Solar panels remain a well-known example of technology that contributes to the energy transition. In 2023, 3,9 billion euros worth of solar panels were imported, although this represented a decrease of 16 percent compared to 2022. In addition, there was a significant import of multifunctional technologies, such as switchboards, automatic controllers and heat exchangers, with a total value of 5 billion euros. These technologies can generate different types of clean energy and imports increased by 13 percent.

Germany was the largest supplier of technology for the energy transition to the Netherlands in 2023, with an export value of 4,8 billion euros. China followed with 3,8 billion euros and Belgium was in third place with 1,4 billion euros. While Germany, Belgium and South Korea mainly supplied electric and hybrid cars, the majority of solar panels came from China.

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Chinese electric car
Photo: © Pitane Blue - Chinese electric car production

Interestingly, when the transit of foreign-owned goods is included, China becomes the largest supplier with a value of €11,8 billion. This emphasizes the Netherlands' role as a transit country, with many solar panels and electric cars being exported from China to the European hinterland. Including this transit, the Netherlands will have introduced more than 2023 billion euros worth of technology for the energy transition in 28, an increase of 11 percent compared to the previous year.

raw materials

The energy transition is highly dependent on the use of critical raw materials. These raw materials are often brought into the Netherlands in the form of technologies. Examples include silicon and gallium in solar cells, and cobalt and lithium in batteries for electric cars. In addition, raw materials are imported for direct applications in the energy transition, such as copper and aluminum for power cables. In 2023, the Netherlands imported 3,2 billion euros worth of aluminum, 1,3 billion euros worth of nickel and 0,6 billion euros worth of copper. These import values ​​were lower than in 2022 due to the normalization of metal prices after the record year 2022.

Norway and Iceland are the largest suppliers of raw materials for the energy transition to the Netherlands. Norway supplied 1 billion euros, of which 57 percent consisted of aluminum and 27 percent of nickel. Iceland supplied 0,9 billion euros, mainly aluminum. Other major suppliers include Chile, Australia and South Africa, which supply lithium, nickel and aluminum respectively. Russia, which was the second largest supplier in 2022, was in eighth place in 2023. China is not in the top ten raw material suppliers because the country mainly exports finished products that already contain these critical raw materials.

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The continued import and transit of technologies and raw materials underline the Netherlands' role in the global energy transition. The country serves as an important link in the spread of clean technologies to the rest of Europe. The increase in the import value of energy transition technologies emphasizes the urgency and commitment of the Netherlands to realize a sustainable future.

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