Money to burn: NL households pay highest rates for city heating


Households connected to city heating networks in the Netherlands pay up to three times as much as people using similar schemes in the rest of Europe, research has found.

Research institute TNO also said the cost of city heating had risen faster in recent years than in Germany, Sweden, Denmark or Finland.

The average Dutch household paid €66 per gigajoule last year, compared to €38 in Germany and €23 in Sweden.

The average Dutch household spent €800 more on their heating bill, based on consumption of 30 gigajoules a year. Without the price ceiling imposed by the government in 2023 the rate would have been more than €80 per gigajoule.

City heating was devised as a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to natural gas. It uses residual heat from industry to warm underground water pipes that are connected to houses.

Around 6% of homes in the Netherlands are currently connected to urban heating networks.

TNO said the difference was partly due to the fact that the maximum price set by the regulator ACM is based on the price of gas, which spiked in the summer of 2022 following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“In Denmark the rates are based on the cost of heating. So a network heated by biomass isn’t affected at all by rising gas prices,” the researchers wrote.

The ACM and some political parties in the Netherlands have called for the link between gas prices and city heating rates to be ended, but it will take several years for any change to take effect.

The maximum price is calculated on the basis of information from suppliers, who would have to provide different figures to show the actual cost of running the network.

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