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Early closure of Hemweg-8 power plant will have major consequences

On March 8, 2019, the Dutch Government announced that Vattenfall’s Hemweg-8 power plant in Amsterdam should stop using coal as a fuel for electricity production by the end of 2019. In part, this will meet the ‘Urgenda target’ of 25 percent carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction by 2020. However, the Sweden-headed energy utility major cautions that early closure will have major consequences for its Netherlands production operation and its employees at the Hemweg plant.

Vattenfall’s Hemweg power plant in Amsterdam, the Netherlands consists of two units: Hemweg 8 and Hemweg 9.
Hemweg 8 is a 650 MWe coal-fired unit from 1994 with DeNOx installation from 2006 (photo courtesy Vattenfall).

In May 2018, the Government presented its bill for the ban on coal as a fuel for electricity production. Vattenfall’s Dutch operation was given until the end of 2024 before the Hemweg power station had to close its doors. At the time, Vattenfall says that it “respected that bill and has adjusted its plans accordingly” and made additional investments to enable the plant to operate safely until the end of 2024.

However, with this amended bill, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate proposes a heavy measure in the very short term. In the Urgenda case against the Dutch Government, the District Court of The Hague ruled that the government must cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 25 percent by the end of 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). The ruling required the government to immediately take more effective action on climate change.

The government’s announcement on March 8, 2019, that Vattenfall’s Hemweg-8 power plant in Amsterdam should stop using coal as a fuel for electricity production by the end of 2019 instead of by end of 2024, will “have major consequences” for Vattenfall’s Dutch production operation and its employees at the Hemweg plant.

According to Vattenfall, this amendment of the bill to the prohibition of coal for electricity production means that the Hemweg power plant will have to stop operating without the previously announced transitional period of five years.

Exploratory talks have been held between the government and Vattenfall. The Dutch Government has indicated that the level of compensation for losses will be discussed further in the coming period. Vattenfall has “confidence in a good outcome” of those discussions.

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