AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government will close one of the five coal-fired power plants in the Netherlands next year, four years earlier than originally planned, to help reach its climate goals, Dutch broadcaster RTL reported on Thursday.
The decision follows a 2018 court order instructing the government to ensure greenhouse gas emissions are reduced from 1990 levels by at least 25 percent by the end of 2020.
Researchers in January said the government was likely to miss that goal as carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the Netherlands are expected to be only 21 percent lower next year than in 1990.
Current plans call for the two oldest coal-fired plants in the country to be shut in 2024 and for the other three to stop running by 2030.
But as part of a push to abide by the court ruling, the government will on Friday decide to shut the Hemweg plant in Amsterdam, owned by Sweden’s Vattenfall, next year, government sources told RTL.
Vattenfall and the Dutch Economics Affairs ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.
Vattenfall last year said it would abide by the law and shut the Amsterdam plant by 2024. The company two years ago said it was willing to shut the plant by 2020 in return for 55 million euros ($62 million) in damages.
Shutting Vattenfall’s plant, build in 1994, would cut CO2-emissions in the Netherlands by almost 2 million tonnes, while the Netherlands needs to get rid of 9 million tonnes in order to reach next year’s goal.
Further savings would need to come from shutting another coal-fired plant, energy-saving measures such as lowering speed limits, improving home insulation and raising energy prices, experts have said.
The government has said it will present its plans to reach the 2020 goal in April, around the time it is also due to decide how the ultimate goals of halving CO2-emissions by 2030 and banning them by 2050 should be attained.
Uncertainty over the costs of these measures has put Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government under pressure in the run-up to elections, scheduled for March 20, in which the coalition looks likely to lose its Senate majority.
Reporting by Bart Meijer; editing by Jason Neely and David Evans