Friday, February 11, 2011

Holland slashes carbon targets, shuns wind for nuclear

Also read: European Energy Review

By Andrew Orlowski, The Register

In a radical change of policy, the Netherlands is reducing its targets for renewable energy and slashing the subsidies for wind and solar power. It’s also given the green light for the country’s first new nuclear power plants for almost 40 years.

Why the change? Wind and solar subsidies are too expensive, the Financial Times Deutschland , reports. Holland thus becomes the first country to abandon the EU-wide target of producing 20 per cent of its domestic power from renewables.

This is a remarkable turnaround from a state that took the Kyoto Agreement seriously and chivvied other EU members into adopting renewable energy strategies. The FT reports that instead of the €4bn annual subsidy, it will be slashed to €1.5bn.

Holland’s only nuclear reactor, the Borssele plant, opened in 1973, and was earmarked for closure by 2003. In 2006 the plant was allowed to operate until 2034, and the following year the government abandoned its opposition to new nuclear plants.

Critics of wind turbine expansion have found it difficult to get figures to judge whether the turbines are value for money. In January, Ofgem refused to disclose the output of each Feed-In Tariff (FiT) location.

The UK is expected to urge the installation of 10,000 new onshore turbines, even though some cost more in subsidies than than they produce, even at the generous Feed-In rates. Holland’s policy U-turn means the EU renewable targets aren’t set in stone – and there are more cost-effective ways of hitting the targets. ®

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