Netherlands in coal plant closure stalemate

Politicians in the Netherlands are reportedly locked in a stalemate over plans to shut down the nation’s coal-fired power plants.  

According to financial newspaper the Financieele Dagblad, the two ministers on a “collision course” are junior environment minister Sharon Dijksma, who has called for a plan to close the nation’s five remaining coal-fired plants, and economic affairs minister Henk Kamp (pictured), who has said such a decision is too expensive and would not achieve the desired aims.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte is expected to shed light on the controversy this week, after it was tabled before Christmas and put off again last Friday.

In September the Dutch parliament voted for a 55 per cent cut in carbon emissions by 2030, which would mean shutting down all of the country’s remaining coal-fired power plants. Although the lower house of parliament had requested in December that Kamp provide a proposal for closing the plants before 2017, he has not done so. 

The nation has closed five coal power stations since 2013, but it still has another five operational plants, three of which came online in 2015. The three new plants were built by German utilities E.ON and RWE and French firm Engie at a total cost of €5.5bn ($6.13 bn). In December Kamp was quoted as saying that the new plants "are the cleanest in Europe” and that his country “would be crazy to close them".

Also in September, Statistics Netherlands reported that Dutch greenhouse gas emissions were up by 5 per cent in 2015, attributing the increase to the three new coal-fired plants plus the mothballing of several gas-fired plants.

Under the Kyoto agreement, the Netherlands must reduce its emissions to 25 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020. In September, a report from consultancy CE Delft said the least costly way to achieve this goal would be to shut one or more of the three new plants, while closing just the two older plants would achieve only half the target.

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