Bioenergy policy

Last checked on:
9 November 2021
Published on:
1 November 2021

Biomass plays a vital role in climate goals, including reducing CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The use of biomass is crucial to the sustainability of our economy, and to achieve climate goals. Now and in the future.

Climate agreement

The Climate Agreement of 2019 sets out the government’s climate targets. The Agreement contains measures to achieve the political objectives. The document includes a separate section on biomass.

The government’s central goal with the Climate Agreement is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands by 49% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. On 14 July 2021, the European Commission adopted a proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. The government supports this more ambitious goal and is working on policies on how to contribute.

Transition to a sustainable energy system

For the time being, the government anticipates that bioenergy is a must to achieve climate targets. Sustainable biomass serves a variety of purposes:

  • To generate energy when there is insufficient wind or sun;
  • For production processes that need a large amount of energy, such as glass and steel production;
  • As a fuel for heavy road transport and shipping. Often, biomass is a temporary solution in the transition towards, for example, electrical propulsion systems or propulsion systems powered by green hydrogen. Biofuel can also help in increasing the sustainability of aviation. The government and aviation industry are working towards replacing fossil kerosene with a sustainable alternative by 2050.

Limited and high-quality use of biomass

In May of 2020, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) published the Report on the availability and applications of sustainable biomass. The PBL has calculated that biomass could become scarce worldwide after 2030. The government’s working principle is that sustainable biomass should be limited; only high-grade sustainable biomass will be used. This is why the parts with the highest added value are utilised from the biomass first.

To ensure the efficient and sustainable use of  biomass in the long term, there is an emphasis on circularity and innovation.

Vegetal and animal materials will first be used to manufacture construction materials, textiles and bioplastics. Only after that possibly as a fuel. This cycle is known as the bio-economy or biobased economy. Bio-energy is primarily used in locations where other sustainability strategies are infeasible for technical or economic reasons. 

Air quality

Biomass combustion to generate energy in bio boilers potentially results in NOx and fine dust emissions. The Netherlands has strict emissions requirements. These prescribe that the emissions of harmful substances into the air must be kept to a minimum. The Activities Decree describes these requirements.

The government and 46 municipalities and provinces signed the Clean Air Agreement at the beginning of 2020. The agreement contains measures to make the air in the Netherlands cleaner and healthier. An investigation in 2020 looked at the emissions needed to make bio boilers more stringent. Also, the government is updating legislation in other respects. One example is a reduction in the capacity limit of 15 MW for the permit obligation for bio boilers. Research by DNV-GL and ProBiomass on behalf of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency suggests that more strict emissions requirements for bio boilers are workable from both a technical and economic perspective. 

Support for new technologies

The government supports bioenergy development, also through the Stimulation of Sustainable Energy Production (SDE+) subsidy.

  • Energy generation:
    Businesses, such as electricity plants and waste processors, can combust biomass to generate electricity and heat. They can also ferment biomass and thus create combustible biogas. The SDE+ provides subsidies for the production of energy from biomass. The government will no longer grant subsidies if biomass is used solely for the generation of electricity.
  • Biofuels for transport:
    Petrol and diesel suppliers must mix biofuel into their fuels. By 2020, 10% of the fuel drawn at pumps must be biofuel. By 2030, this figure must be 14%, as agreed by the Netherlands and other European countries.

International programmes

Find more information on Dutch participation in international activities on the International programmes page.

Would you like to know more?

The Renewable Energy Directive provides an overview of participating countries' steps are taking in renewable energy.

Commissioned by:
  • Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy
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