Energy firms pull plug on district heating networks due to nationalisation fears


Plans to build new district heating systems, in which heat from a central supply is pumped to residential areas, have been hard hit by government plans to control 51% of the networks, the Financieele Dagblad said on Monday.

According to Ernst Japikse, chairman of the district heating network association Stichting Warmtenetwerk 375,000 of the 500,000 connections currently planned are at risk or on ice.

‘The removal of ownership has led the networks to say “hang on a minute. If we invest hundreds of millions of euros but don’t know if we can earn it back, then we will call a halt”,’ Japikse told NOS radio.

‘The plan is to remove 500,000 homes from the gas grid by 2030,’ he said. ‘That will take a lot of investment and hard work, but we could do it. But not like this.’

Energy minister Rob Jetten told MPs last week that he is working on a handbook to deal with the district heating networks which are already at the planning stage.

The government is keen to nationalise the networks as a sweetener to encourage people to stop using gas-fired central heating. Officials believe they would be more willing to make the switch if they were not being forced into the hands of a private company, with no choice of supplier.

Energy company Vattenfall said last October that it would not develop any more district heating schemes or expand those already in operation if the cabinet pressed ahead with nationalisation.

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