Gas as a major step forward in reducing CO2 emissions

19-09-2016

Ministry of Home Affairs expands the EPV to houses with a gas connection

The Netherlands is lagging behind when it comes to the reduction of CO2. The objective is a worldwide level of 1 to 2 tonnes of CO2 per person, while the current emission in the Netherlands is 11 tons of CO2 per person for all sectors combined. The built environment in the Netherlands offers many opportunities to achieve the required reduction, but in order to achieve this objective, the EPV should support more initiatives.

To boost sustainable construction, the Ministry of Home Affairs initiated an Energy Performance Fee (Energie Prestatie Vergoeding, EPV). This fee paid by occupants of houses owned by housing corporations, intended to finance the sustainable renovation of a house, is equal to the reduction in energy costs achieved, which means the living costs remain the same.

To make sure more Dutch houses can be made sustainable, several initiatives were set up, such as ‘De Stroomversnelling’. This strategic partnership of building companies, suppliers and housing associations developed a ‘zero-energy’ all-electric solution.

Recently, the Ministry decided that the EPV, which will enter into force on September 1, should be expanded with an EPV for houses with a gas connection, to also give similar support to other initiatives with comparable results. This decision was supported by a large part of the market, because all measures which contribute to reducing CO2 emissions are welcome. The expansion of the EPV with gas is expected to achieve at least the same reduction of the CO2 emissions as for example the all-electric solution.

A lot can and still has to be done in Dutch homes. With proper insulation of windows and closed-off spaces, ventilation with heat recovery and passive use of solar energy, the heat demand of houses is reduced by 80%. The energy needs for hot water are 50% lower when using solar-thermal energy which stores the heat collected in the houses and uses it in the days afterwards. The household use of electricity is difficult to reduce, because of the increasing demand for comfort electrical equipment. Solar panels help generate sustainable electricity.

However, because the electricity consumption does not take place simultaneously with the generation of electricity, in reality, fossil energy is still necessary for most of the energy used in all-electric solutions. After all, in the Netherlands, electricity is still mainly generated by using fossil fuels (coal and gas).

A number of parties have responded negatively to the decision by the Minister on the EPV expansion. That is unnecessary, because any measure resulting in a measurable and significant reduction in CO2 emissions deserves to be supported. Focusing all support on just one type of solution will not bring the desired and accelerated CO2 reduction. The wider promotion of measures that significantly contribute to the objectives is therefore essential.