Dutch to boost coal-fired power generation to save on gas
The Netherlands has become the latest EU country to announce plans to ramp up coal-fired power generation in response to cuts in Russian natural gas supply, but its government for the time being has ruled out any changes to production policy at the country's earthquake-causing Groningen gas field.
Russia's Gazprom cut gas supply to the Netherlands at the end of May, after Dutch trader GasTerra refused to comply with the Kremlin's decree on converting gas payments into rubles at Gazprombank. The supplier has also curbed supply to neighbouring Germany as well as France and Italy in recent days – actions that those countries' governments have slammed as politically-motivated.
The Dutch cabinet on June 20 approved an increase in power generation at the country's three remaining coal-fired power stations. The facilities are due to be closed in 2030, and in recent years power generation has been capped at 35% of capacity, but this cap will temporarily now be lifted.
The move is necessary to bolster the Netherlands' gas storage levels ahead of the upcoming winter, Dutch energy and climate minister Rob Jetten said. The country's gas storage facilities are currently 48% full, according to Gas Infrastructure Europe, putting it some way behind the EU-mandated target of having stocks at 80% capacity by November 1.
Jetten said the government was still committed to shutting down the coal power plants by the end of the decade. Meanwhile Hans Vijlbrief, state secretary for the extractive industries, said the closure schedule for the giant Groningen gas field would remain the same. The field is due to cease flowing gas completely in 2023, due to the risk of earthquakes linked to production activities. Vijlbrief and others in the government have said before that they will only consider delaying the shutdown or ramping up the field's supply in an emergency.
Germany and Austria have also said they will look at restoring coal power generation in response to reductions in Russian gas supply.