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Netherlands looking at biomass co-firing policies


August 1, 2013
By Scott Jamieson

August 1, 2013, London - Proposals for a new energy policy in the Netherlands will see biomass co-firing limited as coal-fired power plants across the country are mothballed, according to the country's social and economic council (SER).

The Dutch government is due to finalise the details of the policy by late August after the broad outlines of its “energy agreement for sustainable growth” were agreed among a leading group of stakeholders and the government in July.

But the proposals could deliver a blow to biomass market participants in the country if adopted, with the majority hoping for a new co-firing policy to be announced as subsidies under the old MEP scheme run out.

“Provided that a number of conditions are satisfied, energy companies will shut down old coal-fired power plants built in the 1980s,” SER said. “This will limit the possibility of generating sustainable energy by co-firing biomass in these plants.”

The announcement is expected to give further clarity on biomass policy under the country's renewable energy incentive scheme plus (SDE+). The current SDE+ does not offer any support to co-firing, but does give support to newbuild biomass. It is unclear whether the new policy would support biomass conversions.

“The renewable energy incentive scheme plus (SDE+) will remain the most important incentive measure for stimulating investment in large-scale renewable sources of energy,” SER said.

But SER refused to give further details on the initial policy proposals for biomass until a final decision has been agreed.

“The main outlines have been agreed by a leading group of negotiators,” SER told Argus. “The main lines are now being first fed back to all parties. They will give their comments on it. Then the details will be worked out and calculated. If parties agree, they will sign the national energy agreement. At that time more information will become available.”

The negotiating parties are made up of employers' associations, trade union federations, the Dutch government, the environmental movement and many civil society organisations, SER said. SER is facilitating the negotiation process.

In addition to renewable policy, the energy agreement also covers energy efficiency and emission-reduction measures. The Netherlands is targeting a wholly sustainable supply of energy by 2050, along with an 80-95pc reduction of CO2 emissions compared with 1990 levels by the same year.

“To achieve this target cost-effectively, it is vital that the EU emissions trading scheme should undergo structural improvement in 2020,” SER said. “The parties will work together in Brussels to achieve this.”

It is also targeting a 14pc share of renewables in the energy mix by 2020, increasing to 16pc by 2023.

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