Dutch industry balances between success and frustration about energy conservation

Research by reichelt elektronik shows: Dutch companies in the industrial sector invest a lot – but also see themselves under great pressure.

Hardly any other subject has been discussed more frequently and more controversially since last autumn: energy-saving measures. For example, the cabinet recently decided that from 2026 the heat pump will become the standard for heating homes, shops, schools and offices. At the same time, concerns arose when the first companies had to close due to the enormous increase in energy costs.

Now that the first energy saving winter has passed, reichelt elektronik asked 250 Dutch industrial companies about their vision on energy saving, where the biggest concerns lie for the future and how motivated they are to make further investments.

First successes: investments in new technology and significant savings

Not only is energy conservation omnipresent in the media – it’s also a topic that companies are working on: 61 percent of those surveyed said they invested in this area last year.

Another 30 percent plan to make investments this year. Quick and less complex measures have already been taken, such as replacing conventional lamps with LED lamps (41%), lowering the room temperature (39%) or purchasing new machines, devices with lower energy consumption (37%).

In addition, companies are mainly interested in investing in new technologies. About four-fifths (79%) have started investing or plan to invest in building a solar power system this year. About six out of ten companies (62%) are focusing on replacing an old gas or oil heating installation with an alternative heating system such as a heat pump or are focusing on using smart technology or other control systems to reduce the energy consumption of machines (62 %).

Companies have already achieved tangible successes with these investments. Two thirds of them (66%) were able to save between eleven and sixty percent energy last winter. 14 percent even managed to achieve savings of sixty-one to one hundred percent.

Biggest hurdle: The price tag

However, there are also disadvantages and challenges. Most companies that have not made or planned investments want to wait until better or cheaper technology is available (53%) or need more time to make decisions (42%). At 21% there is too little understanding at management level of the importance or urgency of the investments.

However, the biggest barrier to energy savings is the price tag. A third (33%) of companies believe that the technology or its installation is too expensive. Then come the complaints about the uncertainty. Nearly a third (31%) of companies are unsure which technology will prevail in the long run. In third place (27%) is the constantly changing regulation.

These figures do not mean that Dutch companies consider regulations or legal measures unnecessary or bad. 76 percent are satisfied with both existing and approved energy use regulations for businesses. Moreover, they take measures not only because they are obliged to do so, but also out of conviction. 87 percent consider environmental protection important for their company to contribute to society.

Between frustration, energy conservation fatigue and existential dread – the other side of the coin

All in all, most Dutch industrial companies (79%) seem satisfied with their measures. On the other hand, there are also frustrations and fatigue. About a third (32%) are frustrated by high energy costs and a quarter (25%) feel their company is still not doing enough. According to the respondents, the energy-saving measures do not yield the desired results at almost a quarter of the companies (23%).

Moreover, energy-saving fatigue appears to be becoming visible in industrial companies. For example, the subject is discussed less in important meetings (35%). At other companies, employees are more careless with energy-saving rules (31%), projects that have been started are not completed (31%) or fewer investments are made (26%).

This frustration is mainly due to the hopeless situation in which many companies find themselves as a result of the high energy prices. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say their competitiveness will be affected if energy prices remain so high. Even worse, about half of businesses (48%) will no longer be profitable if prices remain this high, the survey said. That is why 44% of the respondents want more favorable energy prices for companies. About the same number of respondents (43%) would also welcome grants being easier to apply for and requiring less bureaucracy, and would also appreciate more openness and promotion of new energy-saving solutions and technologies (43%).

Emigration as the only solution?

Despite all the investments to save energy, many companies have no choice but to move their activities abroad. 46 percent are currently moving all or part of energy-intensive processes abroad – or have already taken this step. Another 29 percent plan to take this step.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” says Christian Reinwald, head of product management and marketing at reichelt elektronik. “For about half of industrial companies, the Netherlands no longer appears to be a suitable location to be profitable – a frightening evidence for the economic policy of the Netherlands. The situation is not easy at the moment and I understand the frustration and resignation of all involved – the after all, the environment does not benefit from companies in countries such as the US and China producing cheap but polluting electricity and exporting products worldwide As an export country, the Netherlands needs local production Taxes must be reduced to a reasonable level and regulations must keep an eye on structure – in the interest of the environment and the Dutch economy.”

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