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NAM EARTHQUAKES: Safety of Groningen people and their future is paramount

Printed below is an English translation of an article published today by the Dutch Financial Times, Financieele Dagblad.

 

 

Fatih Birol: ‘Nobody should think that the switch to clean energy is free.’: Photo: Michel de Groot for Het Financieele Dagblad

IEA director: ‘Do not just close the gas tap in Groningen’

Jeroen Groot • Fair

When it comes to energy and the energy transition, world leaders can not get around him. The Turkish economist and energy expert Fatih Birol (60) has been director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) since September 2015, with publications such as the World Energy Outlook for decades the source for analyzes on the energy market.

On Monday he was briefly in the Netherlands to talk about energy policy in The Hague, with Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate and the bosses of the major energy companies. His advice: be careful with the Groningen gas, despite the earthquakes.

You say: do not go off the Groningen gas too quickly?

‘Of course, the safety of the Groningen people and their future must be paramount. But it is important to note that the Netherlands has the ambition to become an international distribution point for gas. The Netherlands uses the Groningen gas, your neighbors use the Groningen gas. It should not be a black-and-white discussion, for or against the use of natural gas. The economic consequences of lowering gas production must also be taken into account. ‘

Can nuclear energy be part of the solution to tackling climate change? This form of energy generation does not emit CO2.

‘On a global scale, nuclear energy can certainly be part of the solution, in countries where nuclear energy is accepted. We can achieve a great deal of CO2 reduction by using sustainable energy such as wind turbines and by dealing more efficiently with our energy, but in the long term this is not enough to meet the objectives of the Paris climate agreement. There is not one magical solution to quickly get rid of fossil fuels, it’s about the mix of different types of energy, new techniques such as capturing and storing CO2 and dealing with our energy as economically as possible. ‘

Is the (expensive) switch to sustainable energy a part of our welfare costs?

‘One of the criteria for assessing whether a country is doing well in the transition to clean energy is the impact of the measures on the economy. But nobody should think that the switch to clean energy is free. This is going to cost money in the short term, but in the long term it concerns the preservation of our planet. ‘

In your last report you do not paint a happy picture of how things are going. The pace at which the world deals with energy more efficiently is reduced. What’s the problem?

‘The low energy prices, for example the relatively low oil price we have seen so far. These low prices make governments worldwide too lax with the introduction of policies that ensure that we use our energy more efficiently. A large part of the increase in oil demand comes, for example, because people have started to drive more in large SUVs and pick-up trucks. I therefore advised the Dutch government today to use as much as possible measures that promote energy efficiency. That also applies to the use of oil, because we will use crude oil for many years. ‘

The oil price has risen sharply in recent months, from less than $ 50 a barrel to $ 70 a barrel. Analysts point to the decline in production in Venezuela, which would result in less supply. Is that analysis correct?

Venezuela is certainly an important factor to keep an eye on. Due to the economic crisis, oil production has dropped to half the level of 1999, the year that Hugo Chavez came to power. We have never seen such a rapid decline in production in a country in history. We also expect that production in Venezuela will continue to decline, because no investments are made. ‘

SOURCE

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