The Netherlands will eventually have to get rid of gas, but the transition to gas-free takes time. Until then, the Netherlands must choose. Drilling yourself or buying in Russia? Because that gas is the least bad option at the moment, that’s clear, says news houreconomist Mathijs Bouman. “As long as the energy transition is not complete, gas is the cleanest alternative.”
Experts are clear: we want to get rid of gas, but we can’t do that yet. Especially not if we have a cold winter. “In the Netherlands, 44 percent of our energy consumption still comes from natural gas,” says energy analyst Jilles van den Beukel. “We have the idea in the Netherlands that gas simply comes out of the tap by itself. But it is not so obvious.” At the moment, the Netherlands is drilling a lot in the small gas fields, because of the phasing out of gas extraction in the large gas fields in Groningen.
The question is whether the Netherlands has the luxury to stop extracting gas, since we have not built up enough reserves in the past year. “We’ve had a cold winter,” says Bouman.
The fact that we have no reserves is because we have turned off the gas tap ourselves, but also because of a greater demand worldwide. One of the reasons is that there is a higher global demand for gas, as many countries are switching from coal to gas as part of the energy transition. The drought in Asia also continues. The hydroelectric power stations there generated less energy, so the demand for gas there too has increased. Add to that the cold European winters and it is clear where the scarcity comes from.
Russian gas is much dirtier
Russia is cleverly responding to the global scarcity, Van den Beukel also sees. “Putin has a bit of a hand at the moment. That means that he supplies just a little less gas than what Europe is asking for. As a result, gas prices have become a lot higher. If you get more gas from Russia, you give actually a bit of power away.” Besides giving away power, there is another reason not to take from the Russians, says Van den Beukel. “The gas that comes from Russia has 30 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the gas from the Netherlands.”
One of the small Dutch gas fields where gas will be drilled is located near the Frisian Ternaard, a village on the Wadden Sea. The residents protest strongly against the decision of outgoing minister Stef Blok to drill for gas. Geertje Schoorstra-Boeijenga of Dorpsbelangen Ternaard indicates that the gas drilling has a national cause. “Nationally, we have not worked hard enough on the energy transition. Ternaard, among others, will suffer from this.”
The Netherlands’ intention to drill for gas in the Wadden Sea is also internationally condemned. Nevertheless, the caretaker cabinet continues to drill in small fields.
Now that gas extraction in Groningen has been substantially phased out, the Dutch government is looking for other ways to obtain gas. Not only in Ternaard, but also in other smaller gas fields in the Netherlands, plans are being made to start drilling for gas again. And that can hardly be otherwise now that we are without reserves. “The Netherlands continues to run into this every cold winter,” says Bouman.
Places in Drenthe, Overijssel and Friesland can also count on gas drilling or gas is already being drilled. This is unacceptable, according to Schoorstra-Boeijnga. ”The long-term effects are significant, especially here in Ternaard. The bottom of the Wadden Sea will sink due to the gas extraction, so that animal species no longer have a place to eat and rest.”
‘Soil only drops a few centimeters’
According to Van den Beukel, the consequences of subsidence are not too bad. “The bottom in the Wadden Sea only drops a few centimeters. Then you just fill it up again with sand. In addition, it is not about Ternaard. It is about all those small gas fields together. The small gas fields generate about 10 to 15 billion cubic meters gas in. That is one third of our gas consumption. If we stop extracting gas in those small gas fields, we will get it from Putin.”
Municipalities often do not like the drilling. They fear damage, as in Groningen. However, it is seldom possible to prevent the drilling. The Drenthe municipality of Westerveld also did not want any drilling and went to the Council of State. But according to councilor Klaas Smidt of that municipality, it is not necessary to be right, because proof that damage will occur. “We spent a lot of money on it, but the outcome is completely predictable. The gas extraction continues. If you want to change something, the mining law will have to be changed,” the alderman sighs.
The Netherlands cannot get rid of gas yet: but are we going to buy or drill?
Source link The Netherlands cannot get rid of gas yet: but are we going to buy or drill?