330 million euros from the EU for the energy transition of Groningen: “We will help the chemical and manufacturing industries”

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The history of gas extraction in the north of the Netherlands speaks volumes: the province of Groningen is heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Next year, the province’s gas tap will be closed and in order to keep up with the energy transition, the province will receive EU support through the Just Transition Fund. The province is currently reviewing where the funds are going. It is expected that the fund will be opened in Groningen next April for applications from the business community, knowledge and educational institutions, social organizations and government agencies.

In 2050, the time will have come for the whole of the European Union to be climate neutral. Over the next decades, the Netherlands will have to work hard to make the energy transition a reality. In June, the Just Transition Fund (JTF) released a budget of over 17.5 billion euros, of which the Netherlands will receive 623 million euros in the coming years. The fund aims to ensure that the transition takes place in a fair and equitable manner across the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, Groningen is expected to be the hardest hit. More than half of the money that the Netherlands will receive (330 million euros) will therefore go to this province. A plan is being developed for the specific allocation of JTF funds.

Due to a number of factors, the energy transition in Groningen is going to be a bigger task compared to other provinces in the Netherlands, unless it receives additional support. “Gas extraction plays an important role in industry in the province,” explains Selma Zorgman, JTF quartermaster in Groningen province. “Now that the gas valve is off, we really need to make a change. In addition, the starting socio-economic position of Groningen is not as strong as that of other regions of the Netherlands. On the one hand, he has a lower average income than the rest of the Netherlands. The population also has a lower average level of education. This is why it is good that there is additional support from Europe to allow us to achieve this energy transition, without there being parts or groups of inhabitants who cannot be involved for some reason. reason whatsoever. Working with stakeholders from various disciplines, such as energy, economics, labor market and innovation, we have made an inventory of where the money should be spent, ”said Zorgman .

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Support the manufacturing and chemical industries

Various projects in the region qualify for the JTF. These projects relate, among other things, to investments in SMEs and retraining, continuing training and further training for employees and job seekers. For example, some of the funds should go to SMEs in manufacturing and chemical industries, among other sectors. “Imagine that a company has a factory, when CO2 emissions have to go down. Then, a lot of things need to change within this company. Consider replacing raw materials used and replacing or modifying equipment. Whole processes will change, but so will economic chains. For example, the fund can offer support to connect companies with players who bring innovations to the market, such as circular raw materials. In this way, new innovations will be designed and new pilot plants will be established over the next few years. “

At the end of this year, the concrete plans of the JTF will be submitted by the Netherlands to the European Commission for approval. “And in the spring, all the rules of the game will be clear and we can really get started. There is no longer any doubt that the energy transition will take place. Now it’s about seeing how we can make sure we’re going to get through it successfully and, ideally, benefit from it as well. The amount of 330 million euros in funds pledged for Groningen may still be adjusted by the European Commission, depending on the plan submitted by the province.

Collaboration with Friesland and Drenthe

The plans surrounding the fund are being developed in collaboration with the other northern provinces and the Northern Netherlands Labor Market Roundtable, with all provinces bringing their own unique expertise. “Groningen has long been heavily involved in hydrogen and offshore wind power, and Friesland in turn has a lot of knowledge in water technology. We can make good use of this knowledge to make the Northern Netherlands more sustainable and are working closely together to that end, ”says Zorgman.

Leverage

The fund alone is not enough to ensure the smooth running of the energy transition in Groningen, Zorgman admits. For example, substantial investments still need to be made in all of the province’s energy infrastructure. “We have to make sure that the electricity grid can cope with the energy produced by wind farms, for example. We need to consider how to deal with peaks and troughs in solar and wind power supplies. The JTF aims to stimulate innovation in this area, but more money is needed. The fund has a kind of leverage effect. Hopefully governments and other non-European funds will follow suit.

Read more stories about Groningen via this link.

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