Cabinet makes coal-fired plants run harder, ‘risk of doing nothing is too great’

The cabinet will let coal plants run harder again in the coming period. According to Minister Jetten for Climate and Energy, the cabinet chooses this to prevent households from being left out in the cold this winter. By making the plants run harder, less natural gas is used. There is no shortage of gas yet, Jetten emphasized at a special press conference, but โ€œthe risk of doing nothing is too greatโ€.

In less exceptional times, we would not think about this, according to Jetten, who announced the โ€œfirst level of the gas crisisโ€. โ€œWhile Putin continues the terrible war in Ukraine, he is increasingly using gas as a means of power. The risk of gas shortages in Europe increases as Putin keeps rolling back the gas tap.โ€

At the same time, the cabinet makes an urgent appeal to industry and households to save as much energy as possible. Large gas consumers are faced with a temporary gas saving scheme.

No drilling in Groningen

Drilling for gas in Groningen to maintain stocks is now not the issue as far as the cabinet is concerned. State Secretary Vijlbrief once again said at the press conference that the crane in Groningen will only open extra if safety is at stake. For example, if in our country or in neighbouring countries, the energy supply in hospitals and care homes is in close quarters, Groningen would be an option for the cabinet. โ€œBut as a last resort. Groningen is on the pilot light. Production sites are not closed yet, but it is really the plan to close the fields in 2023 or 2024,โ€ says Vijlbrief.

Yesterday, the German government already adopted a package of emergency measures to maintain gas supplies in winter. A third of German gas comes from Russia and the neighboring country expects trouble as Russian gas company Gazprom announced in May to a large extent shutting down the gas tap to Europe. Germany is therefore going to make coal-fired power plants run faster and ask the industry to use less gas to cope with the shortages.

Coal plants at up to 35 percent

Compared to Germany, the Netherlands is less dependent on Russian gas, but still wants to take measures in time to maintain the gas supply for the winter. The additional problem is that the three Dutch coal-fired plants should not just be turned up. The law stipulates that Dutch coal plants can run at a maximum of 35 percent of their capacity in order to limit CO2 emissions. The cabinet now wants to change that.

Jetten couldnt tell what percentages the capacity goes to. In a few weeks, the plants will be able to run harder. Coal must also be smashed. For the time being, the measure lasts until 2024.

Check out what Minister Jetten and Secretary of State Vijlbrief said about the measures:

After the sweeping decision of the Russian Gazprom at the end of May, coalition parties CDA and VVD already urged to change the law as soon as possible, so that the Dutch coal plants can quickly produce above that legal maximum if necessary. โ€œWe are not allowed to play Russian roulette with gas security,โ€ VVD MP Erkens insisted.

Coalition party D66 did not agree with the CDA and VVD and did not want to talk about coal-fired power plants, due to the additional CO2 emissions. At the time, D66 said that it was not the case and demanded compensatory measures when the situation would become dire. According to sources, that situation has now arisen.

Minister Jetten says that the cabinet does not โ€œlose sight ofโ€ the climate goals. The cabinet wants to reduce CO2 emissions by 55 percent by 2030, and now that the plants are allowed to run harder again, more measures must be taken to limit these CO2 emissions. Jetten said he hoped to come up with these additional measures around Prinsjesdag.