Building a sustainable energy system: an overview of fundamental questions

The energy transition in the Netherlands requires a large-scale change in the energy system. A successful transition requires a wide variety of actors to make the right choices at the right time.

This requires looking at key choice questions that are currently unanswered. The Program Systeemintegratie of the Topsector Energie and Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO) have therefore asked Ecorys to conduct a study that can help with this.


The choices that parties (government, organizations, businesses, households) must make in the context of energy transition are interdependent. Moreover, it is not clear for all choices who should make them. This creates uncertainty and ambiguity, leading to wrong choices being made or choices being postponed. In both cases, this stands in the way of a successful energy transition. For example, certain investment choices (should I, as a steel producer, invest in making my processes more sustainable?) depend on certain policy choices (do we want to keep energy-intensive industry in the Netherlands?). As long as such choices are not made, the energy transition will reach an impasse.

Key findings

The purpose of this study was to examine fundamental choice questions related to accomplishing the energy transition. A fundamental choice question is a choice question that has a major impact, such as a major social and/or environmental and/or economic impact, and is strongly guiding (and thus underlies other choice questions).

Using a methodology developed in-house, Ecorys collected the most important fundamental choice questions, then ranked them, provided a description of the choice options for each question, looked at how the impacts of different options could be incorporated into the decision-making process, and outlined which (policy) instruments could be used to implement a chosen option.

Read our full report or interactive presentation.

Our consultant Kurt Kreulen presented the research findings at the Energy Talks in October 2023.

Click here to watch the presentation. You can find the full PowerPoint here.

Link to presentation on YouTube (in Dutch)

Would you like to discuss the results of this research with us? Then get in touch with us!