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Netherlands to invest huge in renewable energy

The Dutch government said it will invest €7.5 billion in energy supply between now and 2011 with priority given to renewable energy, energy saving and CO2 reduction in order to reduce the country’s dependency on oil and gas, Dutch newspapers reported on Thursday.

In its energy policy unveiled on Wednesday the government said the country’s energy production should be cleaner and more diversified and it must remain reliable and affordable. While presenting the Energy Report 2008 in The Hague, Dutch Economy Minister Maria van der Hoeven said the Netherlands should not rule out any options, even nuclear power. About €4 billion of the €7.5 billion will be invested in renewable energy. Just over €1 billion will be spent on energy conservation and €1 billion on reducing CO2 emissions. The Dutch government wants at least 20% of energy consumed to be sustainable by 2020.

It wants to work together with market parties and knowledge institutes to stimulate the use of wind at sea, biofuels and small-scale decentralized technologies to generate power. An “energy island” should be built on the North Sea to generate power from tides and from wind.

The government will investigate options ranging from generating electricity from the disparity between fresh and salt water and the cultivation of algae for the production of biofuels. “The high oil price, the growing demand for energy and the rising CO2 emissions are forcing the Netherlands to drastically change its energy supply,” Van der Hoeven was quoted as saying. She emphasized that this government will not make a decision on the construction of new nuclear power plants, but it wants to workout scenarios for nuclear power in the Netherlands to present to parliament in two years’ time.

Nuclear power generated by the Netherlands’ only nuclear power plant in the coastal town of Borssele now accounts for 4% of the Netherlands’ electricity production. Nuclear power is also imported from France and Belgium, which represents 5% of Dutch electricity consumption. (