Bioenergy and related policies in the Netherlands

The contribution of renewables to the Dutch energy mix is relatively low, at around 1 per cent. However, the country has taken a fairly proactive stance in energy and environment issues and aims at a 5 per cent renewable energy share in 2010. Bio­energy is expected to provide about half of the renewable target, rising from about 13 to about 70PJ/year (excluding waste incineration). The Dutch government is now in the process of setting targets for the Netherlands under the EU biofuels directive.

A number of policies are being directed mainly at the energy sector. These consist of fiscal instruments and green funds and agreements in various sectors of the bioenergy chain, such as commitments on the part of biomass suppliers, generators (e. g. cocombustion in coal plants) and end-users (e. g. industry and municipalities). Demand and willingness to pay for green electricity is also expected to act as a driving force. The main barriers to bioenergy remain the availability of biomass, the profitability of bioenergy schemes and the integration and continuity of relevant policies.


Biomass has the potential to become a major contributor to the European primary energy mix for the supply of modern energy services. The extent to which bioenergy uptake will occur, and its rate of uptake, will depend on resource avail­ability, economic and environmental constraints, as well as policy measures result­ing from drivers such as climate change and willingness to enhance energy supply independence. .

Biomass may be used to provide a number of energy vectors through various fuel chains. Most of these will present benefits in terms of displacing and saving nonrenewable energy sources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing income diversification to farmers. However, the economic and environmental chara­cteristics of the fuel chains and their ability to supply the energy vectors of the future may vary considerably. Biomass can become an important renewable energy source in industrialized countries only if it is able to supply the energy vectors demanded by modern energy services based on environmentally and economically sound fuel chains.

Thus bioenergy incentives must account for the environmental characteristics of the fuel chain i. e. from the production of the fuel to the energy service provided. A variety of market-based mechanisms can be applied at different stages of the fuel chain to stimulate development. In the case of energy crops, mechanisms need to be devised in greater synergy among energy, agriculture and environmental policies to encourage farmers to grow biomass resources in a sustainable manner.

If current energy market structures and policies are maintained, renewable energy penetration, including biomass, is likely to remain low. Piecemeal policies directed at bioenergy are being introduced in a number of EU countries as exemplified here. However, apart from countries which already have a significant biomass resource base, the uptake of biomass energy has been slow. Without the contribution of biomass, it will be difficult to meet the carbon emission reductions envisaged by the Kyoto Protocol, let alone further reductions likely to be required in the post-Kyoto period. Biomass can play a substantial role in greenhouse gas reduc­tions, and it is important to enhance understanding of carbon stock and fossil fuel substitution dynamics. Mechanisms are also needed to provide incentives for fossil — fuel substitution and for the development of sustainable long-term carbon sinks.

Clearly, much needs yet to be done in identifying and implementing viable bioenergy pathways that could contribute to a low-carbon future. Short- to long­term strategies need to be defined and enabling policies, designed and implemented. In particular, there is an urgent need for policy integration to make different bioenergy drivers converge, catalyzing economic and environment beneficial uses.

Actions delivering win-win-win situations across the agriculture, energy and the environment need to be further explored.

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