AMSTERDAM The Dutch government on Wednesday proposed a 33 percent increase in its budget for renewable energy projects in 2017, as it attempts to catch up after lagging on its 2020 emission reduction targets.
In a letter to parliament, Economic Affairs Minister Henk Kamp said the government plans to spend 12 billion euros on subsidies for solar, wind, geo-thermal and other projects in 2017, up from 9 billion euros in 2016 and just 3.5 billion euros in 2015.
The Netherlands came under intense criticism in 2015 when a review showed just 5.6 percent of its energy had come from renewable sources the previous year and coal use was at a record high after three major new coal plants were brought on line.
The European Union targets renewables production of 20 percent by 2020.
In June 2015, a court found the government had also fallen behind on its greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments under the Kyoto protocol and ordered it to take steps to meet its target of a 25 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2020.
Several studies attributed the country's poor performance to erratic subsidy policies in 2006-2013 and underspending generally, prompting the escalation.
In October of this year, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that subsidy increases were paying off, particularly in wind energy, and the 2020 targets were "within reach" after all, though he stopped short of saying they would actually be achieved.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Ralph Boulton)