Added value of economic activities in Dutch North Sea expected to rise sharply

Ecorys has conducted a scenario analysis to provide insights in the value of the economic activities and sectors in the Dutch part of the North Sea. This analysis was done for the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W) and focused on both the present situation and the possible developments leading up to 2035 and 2050. The expected environmental pressure was also explored.

The North Sea is a hub of intense economic activities, including offshore wind energy generation, fishing, aquaculture, and the installation of cables and pipelines on the seabed. The European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD1), published in 2008, aims to protect the condition of the marine environment in European seas and oceans, and to restore them where necessary. The MSFD requires each European Member State to determine a marine strategy for its own sea area. A mandatory part of this strategy is to perform an economic and social analysis of the use of the North Sea’s Dutch part. 

Our findings reveal that the Dutch part of the North Sea generates an annual economic production of approximately 11 billion euro (2021). The majority of the economic value is attributed to maritime shipping (7 billion annually) and secondly to oil and gas extraction. The current geopolitical situation and high inflation create many uncertainties for the sea shipping sector. Based on short-term forecasts, the overall economy and added value of activities on the North Sea are expected to increase sharply by 2035. This is primarily driven by the substantial growth in offshore wind energy activities and by the role of the maritime sector in importing Hydrogen-based energy. The total value is expected to increase strongly to 20-27 billion euro, a doubling by 2035. 

Looking towards the long-term trends up to 2050, three scenarios were examined that consider alternative timelines for achieving sustainable policy. In general, Ecorys sees a decoupling of the direct links between increasing economic production, added values and jobs, and environmental pressure. Technological innovations in a variety of sectors may lead to breakthroughs. 

27 June 2023

2 minute read

Key Experts

Hannah Schutte


Jochen Maes

Senior Consultant

Manfred Wienhoven

Principal Consultant

Tim van Doorn

Junior Consultant