Dutch government confirms 2.4GW of coal plants to close by 2017

Author: Abigail Beall

2014/07/23

Four Dutch coal-fired powered plants totalling 2.4GW will close before 2017, the Dutch economy ministry told ICIS.

The four plants were part of a group of five plants that in 2013 the government had earmarked for closure but the Dutch market regulator later overruled the decision saying it was inconsistent with the law.

However, the Ministry for economic affairs now confirmed that plant owners have decided to close the units anyway as they cannot keep up with legally binding production targets.

An energy agreement signed by the government in 2013 set out that five coal-powered plants totalling 2.8GW of power would be shut down. However, the consumer and market authority said at the time that the closure was not compatible with the national Competition Act and European legislation ( see EDEM 26 September 2013 ).

Although the five coal plants are no longer obliged to close, they have to abide by legally-binding production targets and this means improving their energy efficiency by 2017, according to a ministry spokeswoman.

The companies that own the coal plants, all built in the 1980s, would need to invest money in order to adhere to these targets, she added.

The five plants concerned – E.ON’s Maasvlakte 1 and 2, GDF SUEZ’s Gelderland plant, Essent’s Amer 8 and EPZ’s Borssele – together produce around 10% of Dutch electricity. The 400MW Borssele has not yet confirmed whether or not it will close, the spokeswoman said.

She added that while no specific timeframe for when the power plants will be closing has been set yet, the production targets are in place for 2017 so without improvements the plants would have to close before that deadline.

A total of 2.7GW of new Dutch power capacity is currently being built which be more efficient than the older coal plants.

The coal-fired 1.1GW Maasvlakte Power Plant 3 is due to be operational by the end of the year ( see EDEM 23 June 2014 ) and, despite delays, the 1.6GW coal and biomass Eemshaven power plant is due in 2015 ( see EDEM 2 July 2014 ). Abigail Beall