Home Energy conservation The environmental sector continues to grow in importance

The environmental sector continues to grow in importance

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The environmental sector is made up of private companies and public entities that produce goods and services aimed at protecting the environment and managing natural resources. Environmental protection activities include, for example, measuring, preventing and repairing environmental damage caused by air, water and soil pollution. The management of natural resources includes the production of energy and CO savings2– reducing technologies, products and services, such as the production of renewable energy, electric transport and insulation works.

The share of the environmental sector in the Dutch economy has increased steadily, from 1.7% in 2001 to 2.6% in 2021. The share of activities related to natural resource management has doubled over the past two decades. This increase is closely linked to the energy and climate transition. The share held by activities aimed at preserving natural resources experienced limited growth over the period 2001-2010, ie 0.2 percentage point.

Environmental sector, gross value added
2001 1.13 0.52
2002 1.15 0.53
2003 1.20 0.52
2004 1.16 0.53
2005 1.11 0.55
2006 1.15 0.57
2007 1.16 0.57
2008 1.18 0.63
2009 1.22 0.62
2010 1.31 0.63
2011 1.31 0.73
2012 1.29 0.71
2013 1.31 0.75
2014 1h30 0.88
2015 1h30 0.92
2016 1.33 0.94
2017 1.35 1.01
2018 1.34 1.01
2019* 1.38 1.07
2020* 1.38 1.21
2021* 2.6
* Provisional figures. For 2021, only an estimate for the total environmental sector.

Renewable energy employment continues to grow

Renewable power generation and energy conservation provided more than 72,000 FTEs in 2020, up from 40,000 in 2011. However, there are differences between the businesses. The biggest increase can be seen in solar energy, especially the installation of solar panels. Employment related to this activity has multiplied more than eleven times between 2011 and 2020. Employment related to wind power has doubled over the same period. Employment related to heating, geothermal energy and hydroelectricity remained virtually the same.

Employment in renewable energies
2008 21.6 1.4 1.8 2.9 3.0
2009 21.4 1.5 2.0 3.0 3.4
2010 22.3 1.6 2.3 3.2 3.6
2011 27.4 1.7 2.8 4.0 3.9
2012 24.5 1.6 4.2 3.9 4.0
2013 24.8 1.6 5.6 4.1 4.0
2014 25.3 1.6 5.3 4.9 4.7
2015 26.5 1.5 6.7 5.5 3.7
2016 30.0 1.8 7.5 4.6 3.6
2017 31.4 1.9 9.0 4.8 3.6
2018 26.4 2.0 16.9 5.7 3.8
2019 24.6 2.4 24.2 6.6 3.9
2020* 27.4 2.9 30.9 7.2 4.2
* Provisional figures

Size of Dutch environmental sector equal to EU average

In 2019, the contribution of environmental activities to GDP amounted to 2.3% on average in the European Union. It was pretty much the same in the Netherlands. The environmental sector is relatively the largest in Finland, Estonia and Austria, with respective shares of 5.8%, 4.6% and 4.2% of GDP. These countries have high levels of renewable energy production; management of forest areas is also a relatively large contributor to GDP. At the bottom of the ranking were Ireland (0.9%), Malta (1%) and Belgium (1.1%).

Gross value added of the environment sector in the EU, 2019
Finland 5.8
Estonia 4.6
Austria 4.2
Sweden 3.5
Denmark 3.4
Bugaria 2.8
Romania 2.8
Luxemburg 2.8
Lithuania 2.7
Latvia 2.6
Poland 2.6
European Union* 2.3
Netherlands 2.3
Portugal 2.3
Czech Republic 2.3
Spain 2.3
Germany 2.0
Italy 1.9
France 1.8
Slovenia 1.6
Croatia 1.4
Belgium 1.1
Malta 1.1
Ireland 0.9
* European Union excluding United Kingdom