Ton Spoor, President VEMW: “The mutual dependence of companies has to increase”
Are businesses from the energy-intensive industry still enthusiastic about settling in the Netherlands? An interview with Ton Spoor, president of VEMW, knowledge centre for commercial energy and water consumers.
What is the current view of the Netherlands?
“The views differ greatly in the sector. The Netherlands are still considered as an obvious business location, with a market of 500 million people in the hinterland and an excellent infrastructure. Where liquidity and diversity of suppliers are concerned, the Netherlands has one of the better trade platforms for gas and electricity; You can choose the contracts that best suit your company.
On the other hand, we also see that major new investments in energy-intensive industries fail to materialize. The energy prices in Europe are unattractive, compared with the USA and the Middle East.”
What should be done to maintain our position?
“The industrial infrastructure has to be good. Mutual dependency between companies should also increase, by means of better integration and the realization of cost savings. If that happens, the Netherlands can at least become the best location in Europe.
Gas will remain an important energy source for the foreseeable future. It is a relatively clean fuel and has a very beautiful molecule. There are no easy alternatives. There is also a lot of potential in the Netherlands for utilizing the existing gas fields, both onshore and offshore.”
“We should start with exploratory drilling first, to see whether there is an economic proposition for shale gas.”
Do you see shale gas as an option?
“It is still a massive question mark: How can we do this in a responsible manner? We don’t even know whether fracking is even possible in the Netherlands. That is why we, as VEMW say: Start with exploratory drilling first, to see whether there is an economic proposition for shale gas.”
CHP plants are going through a tough time. Do they have a future?
“Some types can’t simply be switched off, because they produce steam which is used in the business process, and also generate electricity. Companies are also looking for more flexibility in this area. But, indeed, CHPs are having a difficult time now, because of the low electricity prices. However, this can change quickly. The government is certainly not pulling its wallet to dish out subsidies.
We shouldn’t forget that CHP is a wonderful application, which unfortunately suffers from the tension between the gas and electricity prices. The relatively low price of coal is partly to blame, plus poor performances as a result of the ETS. That is why we and the ministries of Economic Affairs, Infrastructure and Environment, plus the federation of VNO-NCW are working towards a better international system.”