Government to allow imports

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In a significant policy revision, Dutch economics minister Annemarie Jorritsma has announced that as of next year the Netherlands' green certificate system will be extended to green power imported from other EU countries. The decision, part of the Dutch budget announcement on September 18, has been taken to help meet the soaring demand for green electricity following the liberalisation of the market on July 1, says Jorritsma.

Since liberalisation, tradable green certificates recording the amount of power supplied to the national grid by renewable energy producers have been the central instrument of Dutch renewables support. Bought by green power retailers and presented to the tax authorities, they effectively act as an exemption from ecotax, allowing green power to be sold at the same price as grey power.

To date, however, green power imported from abroad has been denied certification and has therefore not been eligible for the same automatic tax rebate awarded to domestically produced green electricity. Foreign power was originally refused certification as varying international standards and support systems for renewable energy made it difficult to determine the "greenness" of imports.

The ministry now acknowledges that it will not be able to meet upwardly revised targets of 6% of green electricity use by 2005 and 9% use by 2010 from domestically produced renewables alone. Certifying green power generated abroad is seen as a practical necessity. According to Jorritsma, power from Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland and the UK is likely to be cleared for import next year.

Elsewhere in the budget, Jorritsma reaffirmed her commitment to offshore wind energy and biomass as the renewable technologies central to achieving the Netherlands' long term targets of 10% renewable energy share by 2020. By that date, the government anticipates there will be some 6000 MW of offshore wind power built in the North Sea. Further details of the planning provision for the offshore sector are expected to be announced at the end of this year.

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