The draft Heat Act 2 recently underwent consultation. This draft bill – which will fundamentally change the regulatory framework for district heating compared with the current Heat Act – aims to advance the energy transition from gas to heat and thus help to fulfil the Dutch Climate Agreement's aims. Further, it aims to stimulate the scale-up of collective heat systems, provide a more transparent tariff scheme and refine various conditions to safeguard security of supply.
Energy audits are essential for assessing existing energy consumption and identifying potential energy-saving measures. They allow companies to identify and prioritise opportunities for improvement, thereby bridging the information gap, which is one of the main barriers to energy efficiency. Various EU countries, including the Netherlands, have taken measures to promote energy audits among companies. This article provides an overview of energy audits and the applicable Dutch reporting requirements.
The government considers green (ie, carbon-free) hydrogen to be essential for achieving its energy transition goals and maintaining energy-intensive industries and wishes to improve the business climate for green hydrogen in the Netherlands. As such, the minister of economic affairs and climate policy recently published the government's Outlook on Hydrogen, which sets out the government's medium and long-term policy objectives in this respect.
The government aims to terminate the gas production of the large-scale Groningen Field as soon as possible. The reason for this decision is the Zeerijp earthquake of January 2018. However, immediately reducing production from the Groningen Field to a much lower level would lead to safety and security risks in the Netherlands and neighbouring countries. As such, the next few years will be used to decide on a safe production level and simultaneously safeguard security of supply.
The minister of economic affairs and climate policy recently announced that the scope of the main subsidy scheme for renewable energy in the Netherlands, the Stimulation of Sustainable Energy Production, will be broadened. Under the new scheme, various technologies will no longer compete on the basis of amounts of renewable energy produced, but rather on the amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that have been avoided.
In the new government's coalition agreement, the ruling parties promised to phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030. Thus, the minister of economic affairs and climate policy has been negotiating the closure of the five remaining coal-fired power plants in the Netherlands, and the government recently published a draft bill effecting this closure for consultation. Based on the initial public reactions, it appears that although exiting coal may be relatively easy, it may be naive to think that it can be done for free.
The government recently finalised its objectives and the negotiation format for the national climate agreement. This will be an agreement in principle, which will form the basis of the integrated national energy and climate plan pursuant to the draft regulation on the governance of the Energy Union. The state and various stakeholders will negotiate and conclude the climate agreement, for which the government recently finalised its objectives and the negotiation format.
The new government's coalition agreement contains an ambitious paragraph on climate and energy, which observes that the European Union's aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% (compared with 1990 levels) by 2030 will be insufficient to meet the Paris Agreement target. Therefore, the new government has set the bar higher, introducing measures to prepare the Netherlands for a 49% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
The implementation of the Dutch form of ownership regulation for distribution system operators (DSOs) has paralysed a large part of the energy sector for many years and has yet to be completed. The legislature has decided that DSOs can form part of a larger corporate infrastructure group. However, the scope and extent of the permissible infrastructure-related activities within a network group have come under increased scrutiny and are the subject of debate.
In the Climate Agreement, the government announced its plans to impose a CO2 emissions tax on industrial companies as part of proposed measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 49% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels. These plans were further developed in the draft bill concerning a CO2 tax on emissions from industrial installations, which was presented for consultation in April 2020. The levy is now intended to enter into force on 1 January 2021.
The government is working hard to achieve its climate goals and has set new milestones to implement a carbon price floor, a climate agreement and the Climate Act. Further, in a landmark judgment, The Hague Appeal Court recently ordered the government to do more to combat climate change. The appeal court's judgment is unprecedented and may serve as a wake-up call for other governments worldwide.