In the Netherlands, activists stand at the Wattenfall power station in Diemen, where the bridge to the complex has been closed.
In a letter to Chairman Anna Borg, in the run-up to Thursday’s Wattenfall Group shareholder meeting, 16 organizations are calling for the phase-out of biomass “in the shortest possible time”. Wood scraps are burned in power plants, but this releases stored carbon, according to the working groups.
Wood should be limited to construction, as in the case of fiberboard, which retains carbon for a long time.
Sweden’s Vattenfall has previously indicated that it does not want to continue using biomass if there is no support between customers and users. It is still researching all possibilities related to the power plant in Diemen.
Organizations taking action today are calling for a halt to all plans to build new biomass combustion plants. In the Netherlands, Vattenfall will receive 392 million euros in support of a biomass plant that could become the largest in Europe.
The Dutch cabinet has “immediately” stopped providing new subsidies to biomass plants, Minister for Climate and Energy Jetten (Climate and Energy) and Vivianne Heijnen, Secretary of State for Infrastructure and Water Management reported last week. Until then, the plan was to stop the subsidies between 2025 and 2030.
Concretely, this relates to low heat from wood bio-raw materials for power grids, heat sources and greenhouses, stopping investments and expanding heat networks.
Elimination of Forests
Jetten says he is responding to advice from the Social and Economic Council (SER) and concerns in the political and environmental movement that millions of Dutch subsidies are contributing to deforestation worldwide.
“But the subsidy cuts are for new facilities, while there are no restrictions on releasing woody biomass at existing Wattenfall facilities like Diemen,” said spokeswoman Vina Swart on behalf of the Netherlands Clean Air Commission.
So far, activists have called for a moratorium on subsidies for imported biomass in co-burning at Dutch coal-fired power plants. That would be 3.5 million tons of wood pellets imported annually.
Swart: “It involves a lot of tax money in which forests are sacrificed. The combustion of biomass also leads to the emission of ultrafine particles, which is very bad for air quality and people’s health.”
The Dutch Association for Sustainable Energy has warned on behalf of the entrepreneurs that all forms of sustainable biomass are still essential. This is the only way to reduce “reliance on fossil energy as quickly as possible”. Not using biomass makes achieving climate goals “much more difficult and more expensive”.
Vattenfall has fifteen power plants operating with biomass, as in Lelystad. It states that by using biomass instead of fossil fuels to generate heat in the central region, carbon dioxide emissions are reduced “significantly”.
According to the group, the use of biomass will be “of a temporary nature”. “It is possible in the long run to move away from biomass once sufficient other green heat sources have been added to the grid.”
The Netherlands Clean Air Commission has lodged an appeal against the permit on nature and the environment issued by the North Holland Regional Executive for the power plant in Diemen. In April last year, the court ruled that the building permits for the Dimen biomass power plant had been properly granted.
According to the court in Harlem, the plans for the biomass plant do not exceed the legal standard for emitting harmful substances.
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