SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Swedish state-owned energy company Vattenfall has decided to postpone plans to build the Netherlands’ biggest biomass fired power station because of the ongoing discussion about how green biomass actually is.
The plant is to be built in Diemen on the outskirts of Amsterdam, but both locals and the town council have major doubts about the project. Biomass is predominantly made up of wood chips and vegetable and fruit waste.
‘We see the public discussion around biomass increasing, and we are not deaf although we miss the nuance in the debate,’ Vattenfall Netherlands CEO Martijn Hagens said in a statement on Thursday.
The first step in finalising the decision involves the Dutch government giving clarity about its plans and the role of biomass in reaching climate change targets, he said. ‘We expect to take a final decision after next summer.’
Support for the use of wood pellets to generate electricity is crumbling in The Hague and there is now a majority in parliament for ending subsidies for new biomass power plants.
In particular, the way wood is being imported from abroad to burn in Dutch power stations has come in for criticism, both in the Netherlands and in the US. Some experts also claim wood is more polluting than coal, which the Dutch government is keen to phase out.
The founder of the Urgenda climate movement, which won a landmark court case to force the government to cut pollution, has added her voice to the campaign against the use of biomass.
‘To put it crudely, it is better to use gas and plant trees than use biomass and cut down trees,’ Marjan Minnesma told radio programme Dit is de Dag last week. Gas, she said, creates half the pollution that burning biomass does.