The government has abandoned plans to store excess carbon dioxide in empty natural gas chambers in northern parts of the country, following widespread public protests.
Instead, officials are to look at the possibility of filling empty gas chambers under the seabed with CO2 instead, economic affairs minister Maxime Verhagen announced on Monday evening.
‘We want to take steps to combat climate change. CO2 storage can be useful in that. That can happen under the sea. That way CO2 storage will not cause any unnecessary worries,’ the minister said in a statement.
Last year, the government scrapped plans to experiment with underground storage near Barendrecht, following massive local protests. Unease has also been growing in the three northern provinces where locations were earmarked for greenhouse gas storage.
Verhagen said he expected a licence for under sea storage could be granted relatively quickly. Several projects for offshore have been submitted and the government will press for EU funding for them, he said.
One project in the Rhine estuary is already being worked out in detail.
Opponents of underground storage welcomed the news. ‘It is an enormous relief for a lot of people,’ said Egbert Brons of the lobby group Co2ntramine, which represents the three northern provinces.
Nevertheless the organisation will continue to campaign for the government to put more effort into sustainable energy resources, he said.
And Greenpeace spokesman Rolf Schipper called on Verhagen to look for more ‘reasonable solutions’ to stop climate change, such as boosting energy efficiency and promoting clean energy production. ‘There is no place in the clean energy future of Netherlands for coal-fired power stations and CO2 dumps,’ he said.