Minister Eric Wiebes (Economic Affairs and Climate) understands the concerns that exist about the biomass power stations and the associated million-dollar subsidies, but for the time being keeps faith in this way of generating energy.
"The worries are not nonsense," Wiebes said in the House of Representatives on Wednesday during the budget debate of his department. "But I find the concept extremely defensible," the minister said.
In the coming year, the government will invest a total of 11.4 billion euros in subsidies in biomass plants that are important for achieving the climate goals. But there are many questions about the degree of sustainability and the additional air pollution.
"How do we prevent that we subsidize biomass plants that are not sustainable?" D66 MP Matthijs Sienot asked Wiebes. Biomass power stations can now be built without permits and standards for the heating of, for example, swimming pools or for small neighborhoods of around 12,000 houses.
Sienot is particularly concerned about the sustainable wood pallets that are burned in the power stations. The question is whether there will still be enough sustainable wood in the future, so that other, less sustainable sources are tapped
These power stations emit CO2, nitrogen and particulate matter. So it's not too bad with that sustainability, says D66. The party asks Wiebes to conduct stricter controls when distributing subsidies and to impose stricter environmental requirements.
Lammert van Raan of the Party for the Animals wants the subsidy to stop until there is more clarity. PvdA'er William Moorlag asks Wiebes for a Plan B.
"Primeval forests in coal-fired thunder is fake"
Wiebes understands the questions. "If you are going to thunder primeval forests in a coal-fired power station, that's fake," said the minister, who also acknowledged that air quality is "a point."
He thinks it is justifiable that biomass is an important part of achieving the climate goals. "The Climate Agreement was not closed with eyes closed." According to Wiebes, there is a consensus among scientists that biomass is needed to achieve the climate goals.
Moreover, he believes that different types of biomass are lumped together in the discussion. In addition to wood, VGF, manure and sludge are also used. The wood pallets make up about a quarter of the total biomass firing.
Wiebes recently announced that the subsidy for the smaller biomass boilers and pallet stoves will be discontinued from next year. The idea was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the air quality suffers too much.
Wiebes also pointed out in the debate that barbecues and fireplaces are the biggest air polluters. "But nobody dares to burn their hands politically."
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