‘Construction of heat networks largely comes to a standstill due to new heat law’

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The construction of new district heating networks has largely come to a standstill. Energy companies doubt whether it is still profitable to build heat networks, also known as district heating. The new Heat Act places control largely with municipalities.

As a result, the cabinet’s plan to remove homes from gas is in danger of being delayed considerably, the FD reports.

Gigantic investments

According to Ernst Japikse, chairman of the Heat Network Foundation and director of heating company Ennatuurlijk, the halting of the projects is the result of the new heat law that will take effect in July 2024. On the basis of that law, the government must have a majority interest of at least 51 percent in projects.

“The expropriations are reason for the heat companies to say: wait a minute. If we invest hundreds of millions but we don’t know whether we can earn it back, we will stop for a while,” says Japikse in the NOS Radio 1 Journaal.

Now that many energy companies are no longer investing in the heat networks, many projects have come to a standstill, he says. At the moment, this concerns 375,000 of the 500,000 planned connections. Japikse: “In all energy agreements that have been concluded, the plan was to take half a million homes off the gas before 2030. You have to invest a lot and work hard for that, but we were able to achieve that. But this way we are going don’t get that.”

That energy companies would invest less as a result of the new energy law was previously predicted by consultancy firm PWC. The office looked at the plans on behalf of the government.

‘No direct consequences for tenants’

According to a spokesperson for Aedes, the umbrella organization for housing corporations, any delays in heat network projects will not have direct consequences for tenants: “These are long-term projects, for which the street must be opened up. Planning has often already been made for new construction, even for district heating. These are projects where the shovel should actually go to the ground, but unfortunately that is not happening.”

But according to the Aedes spokesperson, postponement, or in some cases even cancellation, can have consequences. “For existing buildings, replacing central heating boilers is an alternative if the heat network does not continue. The result of the postponement is that housing associations can replace old installations. In that case, sustainability will take another 15 to 20 years. We cannot use a delay now to achieve long-term goals.”

At the table

Japikse would like to sit down with the minister and plead for government guarantees for investments if expropriations are continued.

Minister for Climate and Energy Rob Jetten informed the House of Representatives last week that he is working on a so-called ‘guideline’ for heat projects that are currently underway. He did not give details, writes the FD. On Wednesday, all parties involved will meet to discuss the law further.

  • Heat networks must become part of the municipality, there is a risk that companies will drop out
  • Cabinet wants to put heat networks in public hands
  • Economy

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