Construction decision on Dutch biomass heating plant delayed

By Erin Voegele | June 25, 2020

Vattenfall, a multinational power company owned by the government of Sweden, announced on June 25 it will delay making a final decision on the construction of a proposed 120 megawatt biomass-fired district heating plant planned for development in Diemen, a city located just outside Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

The company attributed the delay to ongoing debates on biomass sustainability and said that it is essential that the Dutch government enact a clear sustainability framework.

In its announcement, Vattenfall said that the company has much experience with the use of biomass in Sweden and is convinced that it can use biomass at the proposed Dieman facility in a responsible, sustainable manner.

“We see the public discussion about biomass increase,” said Martijn Hagens, CEO of Vattenfall Netherlands, in a statement released in Dutch and translated to English. “We are not deaf to this sound, but we do miss the nuance in the debate. Moreover, there is currently no clear voice from the Dutch government and the signatories of the Climate Agreement in favor of biomass. We have therefore decided that we will enter into discussions with those involved again before we make a final and irrevocable decision to build the biomass power plant in Diemen. The first step for us is that the Dutch government must now clarify how to proceed with biomass to achieve the climate objectives. The Dutch government is expected to publish a sustainability framework for biomass shortly, which describes the conditions under which biomass can make a broad-based contribution to our climate goals. In the meantime, we will continue to work on the preparations for this project, as we agreed in the Climate Agreement. We expect to be able to make a final decision after next summer. ”

In June 2019, Vattenfall announced an agreement had been reached with several municipalities that would receive heat from the proposed plant. That agreement stressed that the Dieman biomass plant is intended to make the local district heating network more sustainable, but would be only a temporary solution. The biomass facility was expected to run for 12 years a base load source before shifting to a peak load source and eventually being phased out. The agreement also notes the facility would be fueled with wood pellets that meet the requirements of the Netherlands 2013 Agreement on Energy for Sustainable Growth. Vatternfall announced in September 2019 that the environmental permits for the proposed plant had been issued.