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 minister of economic affairs and climate recently announced that the new government has reserved €12 billion to grant subsidies in 2018 for the production of renewable energy under the Renewable Energy Grant Scheme. The subsidies, which will be made available to applicants in two €6 billion tranches, aim to accelerate the development and use of sustainable energy production technologies.
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 number of geothermal energy projects in the Netherlands is rapidly increasing and there are growing calls for the existing legal framework to be reshaped in order to meet the specific needs of such projects and remove bottlenecks. In light of geothermal energy's potential in the much-desired energy transition, it is hoped that these growing pains can be quickly overcome and that the industry can continue to develop itself as a standalone professional industry.
An important global trend is the rapidly increasing number of large industrial and corporate energy consumers and buyers wanting to purchase renewable electricity directly from renewable electricity producers on the basis of long-term corporate power purchase agreements. This has also emerged as a trend in the Dutch energy market, especially in the context of the so-called 'energy transition' initiated by the government and the Energy Accord signed by the government and market players.
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.