AMSTERDAM The Dutch government promised to cut red tape for biogas production, waste management and other renewable energy projects with the exception of costly wind and solar power, so that it can meet targets set by the European Union.
The so-called "green deal" involves 59 public and private sector projects with an emphasis on sustainable use of raw materials, water, land, food and energy.
"The government should not impose sustainability by introducing bans," said Maxime Verhagen, minister for economic affairs, agriculture and innovation, on Monday.
"There will be much more success if people and companies work to achieve sustainability."
The Netherlands produces more than 80 percent of its electricity from fossil fuels. It has committed to increase the share of renewable energy to 14 percent by 2020. That share has already slipped to 3.8 percent in 2010 from 4.2 percent in 2009.
"This is good first step but much more needs to be done," said Kim Schoppink, Greenpeace spokeswoman.
"The government should create measures to boost investment in wind and solar projects. Wind and solar are the main sources for renewable energy in the Netherlands," she added.
Dutch utility Nuon, owned by Sweden's Vattenfall group, said it was disappointed that the government had not included offshore wind in the package.
"Offshore wind is necessary if we want to reach 2020 targets," said Ariane Volz, a spokeswoman for Nuon. "The technology is still expensive and that is why we need the government's help with it."
As part of the deal, utilities have committed to a biomass share of 10 percent in their coal-fired plants in the next three years to reduce carbon emissions.
One of the projects selected is a biogas venture between Dutch utility Essent, dairy cooperative Friesland Campina and the Netherlands Green Gas Maatschappij.
The biogas will be produced from manure on two farms, and the gas will then be liquefied and used in transportation.
The government has said it will help the project by simplifying and shortening permit procedures.
(Reporting By Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Sara Webb and Jane Baird)