”Closure of Amsterdam coal plant not good enough”

Written by Nina Büchs and Kimberly Nicolaus

In order to reach the “Urgenda target” by 2020, the Dutch government decided last Friday to close the Hemweg-8 coal-fired power plant by the end of 2019: four years earlier than expected. Greenpeace Netherlands criticized that this step won’t be enough to meet 2020 climate targets.

Secretary of State for Economic and Climate Affairs, Eric Wiebes, announced Friday 8 March to take immediate action, to speed up with the climate goals. The government decided to close the last Vattenfall coal-fired power plant in Amsterdam-West by the end of 2019, four years earlier than expected. According to Reuters, this measure will cut around 22 percent of CO2-emissions in the Netherlands. But the country needs to get rid of 9 million tonnes to meet the “Urgenda Target” of 25 percent carbon dioxide reduction by 2020. The “Urgenda Target” is a result of a climate case filed by the Dutch Urgenda Foundation and 900 citizens against the Dutch government.

As reported by Greenpeace Netherlands the closure of Hemweg-8 coal-fired power plant will not be enough to achieve the “Urgenda target”. Kees Kodde, campaigner climate and energy at Greenpeace Netherlands said: “In our opinion, they should close three more coal-fired power plants because there is still a big gap with achieving the 2020 target.” If they will be closed, Greenpeace Netherlands expect a temporary use of the gas-fired power plants which are currently not in function, as coal has been cheaper over the last years. According to the expert, it is necessary to use gas-fired power in the meantime, because so far, neither solar nor wind energy could produce the same amount of energy as coal power.

Hemweg-8 is one of five coal-fired power plants in the Netherlands. It has supplied energy to Amsterdams metropolitan area since 1994. Since the plant will be closed four years earlier than expected, the company reported to “currently having exploratory talks with the government, to discuss the level of the compensation for losses.” Last year, the Swedish energy company Vattenfall and its subsidiary Nuon invested additional costs to enable the operating process until 2024.

Even though the plant first agreed on the plans to shut Hemweg-8 by 2024, this early closure of the 630 MW coal-fired plant means “major consequences for its production in the Netherlands and its employees.” According to the press department, more than approximately 200 employees are affected by this bill. Alexander van Ofwegen, Director of Production and responsible for the Hemweg-8 power plant stated: “We will take the time, together with the works council, to develop a new job perspective for all people involved.”

Photocredits: 200 employees are affected by the closure of Vattenfalls Hemweg 8 coal-fired power plant. Source: Nuon/Jorrit Lousberg