The Dutch government has presented a long-term energy plan that stipulates that no new cars with combustion engines may be sold from 2035 on. In addition, in the Netherlands – for over 50 years the largest natural gas producer in the EU – all houses will be disconnected from the gas grid by 2050. The plan has broad parliamentary support – in fact, many political parties believe it does not go far enough.
The Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Henk Kamp presented the “energy agenda” on 7th December.
The “agenda” states that from 2035 on all cars sold should be zero-emission, i.e. either electric or hydrogen-driven. A majority in the Dutch Parliament had earlier asked for 2025 as a starting date for this transport revolution, but according to Kamp this is too early.
Another revolution is to take place in the built environment. Newly built houses will not be connected to the gas grid anymore, according to the plan. Existing houses will be gradually disconnected from the gas grid. By 2050 houses will not use gas at all anymore. They will be heated in part with waste heat from industrial processes as well as geothermal sources. A new infrastructure for waste heat distribution will be built for this. Local governments are assigned a leading role in this transition process.For the Netherlands the change will be huge. Since the early 1960s, the country has been the largest natural gas producer in the EU and a major gas exporter. It probably has the most extensive gas distribution infrastructure in the world. Virtually all houses are connected to the gas grid – indeed, they must be, according to the law.
The energy-intensive industry will not be able to do entirely without gas, says Kamp. For this reason, the Netherlands will pursue possibilities for carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Dutch energy and climate policy is currently driven by a broadly based “energy accord”, which was signed in September 2013 by the government with forty organisations, including NGO’s and industry associations, and which runs until 2023. The new “energy agenda” is intended as a long-term perspective for the period after 2023.