IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Lessons from 15 Years of Experience with the Dutch Tax Allowance for Energy Investments for Firms


  • Arjan Ruijs

    (PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency)

  • Herman Vollebergh

    (PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, CentER and Tilburg Sustainability Centre, Tilburg University)


Since 1997 the Netherlands has a tax allowance scheme introduced to promote investments in energy saving technologies and sustainable energy production. This Energy Investment Tax Allowance (EIA in Dutch) reduces up-front investment costs for firms investing in the newest energy saving and sustainable energy technologies. The basic design of the EIA has remained the same over the past 15 years. Firms investing in technologies listed in the annually updated ‘Energy List’ may deduct some of the investment costs from their taxable profits. The EIA may also reduce search costs by investors to find particular technologies because of the Energy List which is used to consider eligibility for the subsidy. This Energy List contains generic technologies that meet a certain energy-saving standard or a selection of novel, but proven, technologies with a higher energy-saving potential than conventional technologies. Over the past 15 years, the use of the EIA has been affected by a number of changes, mainly due to exogenous factors, such as interactions with other policy instruments, rising oil and gas prices, and the economic crisis since 2007. Despite this turbulence and changes in government focus, the EIA is still part of the Dutch energy policy mix. Our evaluation of the EIA contains four lessons. First, the use of tax revenues to subsidise investment in energy-efficient technologies and renewable energy is not very different from using on-budget subsidies if budgetary rules require sufficient accountability of such tax expenditures. At the beginning of the scheme, a lack of accountability of tax expenditures contributed to budgetary turbulence. A number of budget overruns in later periods were not related to budget accountability issues, but to changes outside the EIA. Second, incentive compatibility problems of the EIA are of concern but seem to be manageable. The main weakness of the tax allowance is the difficulty to prevent free-riders from receiving subsidies, even though subsidy effectiveness has improved considerably over the years. Third, the use of a dynamic technology list makes the regulation flexible, allowing policy to refocus and apply tighter standards if necessary. The list also reduces the information asymmetry between supply and demand of new technologies and helps suppliers of energy-saving or sustainable energy technologies to overcome the well-known ‘valley of death’. Finally, the design of a subsidy scheme should pay sufficient attention to the likely interaction with other policy instruments, in particular other subsidy schemes aimed at complementary objectives. The turbulence with the EIA over the 2001–2007 period was mainly caused by fluctuations in the application of other instruments.

Suggested Citation

  • Arjan Ruijs & Herman Vollebergh, 2013. "Lessons from 15 Years of Experience with the Dutch Tax Allowance for Energy Investments for Firms," Working Papers 2013.56, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2013.56

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daron Acemoglu & Philippe Aghion & Leonardo Bursztyn & David Hemous, 2012. "The Environment and Directed Technical Change," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 131-166, February.
    2. Eric Malm, 1996. "An Actions-Based Estimate of the Free Rider Fraction in Electric Utility DSM Programs," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 41-48.
    3. Popp, David & Newell, Richard G. & Jaffe, Adam B., 2010. "Energy, the Environment, and Technological Change," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
    4. DeCanio, Stephen J. & Watkins, William E., 1998. "Information processing and organizational structure," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 275-294, August.
    5. Frank J. Convery, 2011. "Reflections--Energy Efficiency Literature for Those in the Policy Process," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(1), pages 172-191, Winter.
    6. Franz Wirl, 2000. "Lessons from Utility Conservation Programs," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 87-108.
    7. Aalbers, Rob & van der Heijden, Eline & Potters, Jan & van Soest, Daan & Vollebergh, Herman, 2009. "Technology adoption subsidies: An experiment with managers," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 431-442, May.
    8. Baumol,William J. & Oates,Wallace E., 1988. "The Theory of Environmental Policy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521322249, March.
    9. van Soest, Daan P., 2005. "The impact of environmental policy instruments on the timing of adoption of energy-saving technologies," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 235-247, October.
    10. Don Fullerton & Ann Wolverton, 1997. "The Case for a Two-Part Instrument: Presumptive Tax and Environmental Subsidy," NBER Working Papers 5993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Glenn Jenkins & RANJIT LAMECH, 1992. "Fiscal Policies To Control Pollution: International Experience," Development Discussion Papers 1992-01, JDI Executive Programs.
    12. Arguedas, Carmen & van Soest, Daan P., 2009. "On reducing the windfall profits in environmental subsidy programs," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 192-205, September.
    13. Vollebergh, Herman R.J., 2008. "Lessons from the polder: Energy tax design in The Netherlands from a climate change perspective," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 660-672, January.
    14. Franz Wirl & Wolfgang Orasch, 1998. "Analysis of United States' Utility Conservation Programs," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 13(4), pages 467-486, August.
    15. Joëlle Noailly & Svetlana Batrakova & Ruslan Lukach, 2010. "Home green home; a case study of inducing energy-efficient innovations in the Dutch building sector," CPB Document 198, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:inteco:v:150:y:2017:i:c:p:80-95 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Energy Efficiency; Renewable Energy; Investment; Tax; Tax Preference; Policy Evaluation;

    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2013.56. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (barbara racah). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.