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Netherlands government to mandate biomass cofiring

By Lisa Gibson | July 07, 2011

The Netherlands government has made clear its intent to eventually mandate cofiring of biomass at all coal-fired power stations, and has indicated it will begin with cofiring obligations on power producers with possible obligations on power suppliers eventually. The government, however, has yet to clarify the details of its plan.

A figure of 10 percent cofiring for producers has been discussed, according to Brodie Govan, of pricing assessment, market data and business intelligence firm Argus Media Inc. That 10 percent figure is already well below cofiring levels at Essent’s Geertruidenberg, Netherlands Amer power facility, Govan said. The combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plant generates 1,245 megawatts (MW) of power and 600 MW of heat and currently uses a 34 percent biomass fuel mix in one of its units, he said. The company wants to increase that to 50 percent biomass, followed by 80 percent.

“Essent has previously supported the introduction of a suppliers’ obligation, whereby all power suppliers are obliged to supply their customers with a certain percentage of sustainable energy,” Govan said.

That supplier obligation would mean suppliers must search the market for outlets to purchase or produce green energy under the most economical conditions, Govan explained. That would allow the market to determine the most cost-effective methods of sustainable power generation. Still, it is unclear as of yet what regulations will go into effect, and the government officials have expressed concern over a supplier mandate, saying it deserves careful consideration.

The cofiring mandate for all coal-fired power plants was announced by minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation Maxime Verhagen in the Dutch government’s Energy Report. The terms and conditions have yet to be agreed upon in consultation with the energy sector.