Energy neutral bid by Dutch dairy sector

By Helen Glaberson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Renewable energy Greenhouse gas Sustainability

The Dutch dairy sector plans to install climate-neutral barns to all dairy farms in the Netherlands as part of its bid to be energy neutral by 2020.

Over the upcoming months, the sector is planning to set up a series of trials on​barns fitted with solar panels and bio-digesters at a number of small businesses throughout the country. If the new concept proves successful, the barns will then be rolled out to all Dutch dairy farms.

The goal was initiated by the Sustainable Dairy Chain, which is formed by the Dutch Dairy Organisation/Nederlandse Zuivel Organisatie (NZO) and the Dutch Federation of Agriculture and Horticulture.

“The climate-neutral barn heralds a new step in the sustainability of our sector”, ​said Tjeerd de Groot, director of NZO.

According to the Sustainable Dairy Chain, the Dutch dairy sector contributes 6 per cent to the Dutch trade surplus.

Government contribution

The Dutch dairy sector is currently investing €250m annually in sustainability. The Sustainable Dairy Chain is also looking to the government to make a contribution through the new Sustainable Energy Subsidy Scheme which provides subsidiaries to farmers and companies investing in sustainable energy production.

However, getting a contribution may prove difficult as demand is much higher than the scheme’s available budget, NZO spokesperson René Van Buitenen told This means small farmers are unlikely to receive assistance, he said.

Other industry objectives include a 30 per cent reduction in both energy and greenhouse gas emissions compared with 1990.

FrieslandCampina sustainability workshops

In line with the industry’s 2020 goal, NZO member FrieslandCampina set up a series of discussions this January on sustainability practices that will continue to run until Friday, 25 February.

More than 100 workshops are open to all dairy farmers were they can discuss how to operate more sustainably and develop proposals for energy saving and energy production.

Based on the ideas generated at these events, the dairy giant will develop a prototype in the spring which will be tested in farms over the summer. Following these trials, the FrieslandCampina board will then present proposals for the first phase of the sustainability policy that is to take effect from 1 January 2012.

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