By 1 December 2023, companies must report on the measures they have taken to make energy use more sustainable. Does this apply to your business? What exactly are the obligations? What happens if you don’t report (on time)? In this blog, we provide the answers.
Companies using more than 50,000 kWh of electricity or 25,000 m³ of natural gas (equivalent) per year have a sustainability obligation. Excluded are buildings and activities that are self-sufficient. This means small consumers are exempt. Additional obligations apply to so-called large consumers (more than 200,000 kWh of electricity or 75,000 m3 of natural gas (equivalent) per year)
Companies subject to the sustainability obligation also have a duty to report to the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO) once every four years. Does your company have a sustainability obligation? Make sure you have reported to the RVO by December 1, 2023 at the latest. Below we explain in more detail how this works.
From energy saving obligation to sustainability obligation
The energy saving obligation means that companies must take energy-saving measures if they pay for themselves within a maximum of 5 years. A list of recognized energy-saving measures (EML) has been established. If a company takes these measures, it complies with the energy saving obligation. This list serves as a tool, it is not mandatory to choose measures from the EML.
Since July 1, 2023, the energy saving obligation has been expanded to a sustainability obligation. This means that companies must also take measures for the production of renewable energy and measures to replace an energy carrier if these measures pay for themselves within a maximum of 5 years. This also includes the efficient management and maintenance of these measures.
Companies with a sustainability obligation have a reporting or information obligation. This means that companies must report to the RVO which measures they have taken. This can be done via a web form on the RVO website. If measures from the EML have been taken, a company only needs to indicate this. If other measures have been taken, a company must also clearly describe these measures.
If a company does not report, does not report on time, or does not report completely, it does not comply with the information obligation. This is then an independent violation against which enforcement action can be taken. The competent authority can impose an order subject to a penalty that the company must still report within a specified period. The other consequence is that the competent authority may assume that the energy saving obligation is not being met. Of course, a company can then dispute this.
In addition, large consumers may be subject to an additional investigation obligation. This can only be done if it is plausible that the company has not taken all sustainability measures. For gigaconsumers (more than 10 million kWh of electricity or 170,000 m3 of natural gas (equivalent)) it is without a doubt that they are obliged to report on the measures to make energy use more sustainable and must investigate which sustainable measures can be taken with a payback period of a maximum of five years.
The obligations mentioned above will continue to apply under the Environmental Law (expected to come into effect on January 1, 2024). However, a clear distinction is then made between process-related and building-related measures. This has the advantage that in (rental) situations it is easier to determine who is responsible for the measures to be taken.
Does your company have a sustainability obligation? Then make sure you have reported to the RVO by December 1, 2023. Do you have more questions about the sustainability obligation or the information obligation? You can contact one of our environmental law specialists, Lisa Stoof and Ernst Plambeck.