Dutch gov't needs to do more to get homes off gas network: Planning agency
The government will need to more actively become involve in getting homes off the gas network if it wants to achieve its goal of having all homes and other buildings free of natural gas by 2050, according to the Netherlands' environmental assessment agency PBL. The agency found a number of "structural bottlenecks" in this process that can only be removed by the national government, NRC reports.
The PBL investigated the progress of the Natural Gas-Free Neighborhood program (PAW), in which municipalities and designated neighborhoods work to become more sustainable and get off the natural gas network, on behalf of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The agency found that these neighborhoods are encountering many bottlenecks that they can't remove themselves. "These require central government attention, so that the energy transition can be accelerated," project leader Marloes Dignum said to the newspaper.
According to the PBL, the energy transition at neighborhood level requires a lot of customization. Homes differ greatly from each other, as do the possibilities and residents' willingness to participate in making their homes more sustainable. As there is no national policy on how costs and risks are to be divided among the involved parties - municipalities, residents, energy suppliers - each district has to figure this out themselves. This often leads to delays and high costs.
On the other side of the coin is legislation that slows the process down. European tendering rules make it difficult for corporations to smoothly and quickly get subsidy from the PAW to make their homes more sustainable, according to the PBL.
Many residents also seem to be unwilling to work along in getting their homes off the gas network. This leads to delays and extra costs, because those houses then need to be linked to a separate gas network. Municipalities and enthusiastic residents could really use the support of a unified and clear message from the government on why the energy transition is both needed and desirable, the PBL said.
And while municipalities are gaining a great deal of experience and knowledge through these neighborhood experiments - the main goal of the PAW - the required customization means that this knowledge can't always be used in other neighborhoods.
Dignum stressed that these problems aren't insurmountable. "It was never thought that it would be easy. Because of the commitment of learning in living labs, bottlenecks are now coming to light and something can be done quickly. That is a win." The government needs to intervene to help solve these bottlenecks.