Dutch economy minister Henk Kamp has allocated €150mn ($178mn) towards anaerobic digesters on farms to convert manure into green gas or electricity.
The minister said September 13: "The cabinet has indicated that CO2 emissions should be reduced to almost zero by 2050. With the implementation of anaerobic digesters, we hit several birds with one stone. We avoid greenhouse gas emissions from manure, which contributes to reducing CO2 emissions. In addition, we are able to use manure for renewable energy production, which contributes to the goal of achieving 14% of renewable energy by 2020. An average digester provides enough gas and electricity for about 90 households."
Public subsidies for farm-based digestors are fairly widespread in other European countries, including Italy, Germany, Denmark and the UK.
Last December, the Dutch economy ministry released a report proposing that residential use of natural gas could be reduced by cancelling the legal requirement for new houses to be connected to the gas network. Currently 98% of homes in the Netherlands are connected to the gas grid.
The announcements form part of a series indicating that natural gas consumption may go into permanent retreat. The Netherlands was the first northern European country to make gas a big part of its energy mix some 60 years ago with the discovery of the giant Groningen field.
Dutch institute TNO presented a paper suggesting that a production cut at Groningen could lead to gas import dependency in the Netherlands as soon as 2021, although most of its scenarios said this would not occur until 2030-35. Dutch state gas infrastructure firm Gasunie said September 13 it plans to diversify into offshore transmission of North Sea wind-generated electricity. The fate of Groningen for now is undecided.
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