Live blog from Port & City: Connected Energy

foto_taets_webFrom the conference venue of Taets, located in an industrial monument at the border of the NorthSea Canal in Zaanstad, we present our live blog. The conference Port&City: Connected Energy is opened by Dick Emmer, Alderman for Sustainability of Zaanstad. “To build the new energy system we need we will have to find new types of collaboration with our partners, and even reinvent ourselves”, he states.

fotoportandcityTataSteel1.Hans van den Berg, director manufacturing of Tata Steel at IJmuiden, is the first keynote speaker. You find his presentation here. Tata Steel Ijmuiden is a highly integrated steel factory at a very favourable location. Tata wants to stay producing at this location, and shows that by investing heavily in production facilities and in sustainability. The energy efficiency of the factory has improved by more than 30% in the last 25 years. No less than 350 research workers are busy devising new products and improve processes. The company is focusing now on reusing the massive amount of residual heat produced in the different stages of steel production.

Up till now, about one third of this heat can be reused in the production process, while at least 10% is readily available for district heating or other purposes. But who is going to take the lead and take care of the initial investments needed to start this heating grid? The regulatory framework is not really supportive, Mr Van den Berg remarks. For example, the heat delivered to a district heating system by Tata cannot get the label ‘sustainable’, which would help Tata reach its emission goals.

fotoportandcityKalundborg1Michel van der Linden from the Municipality of Kalundborg gives a presentation about the famous example of industrial symbiosis located in this Danish city. Kalundborg is a modest harbour town, with only 50.000 inhabitants, located on the island of Zealand not far from Copenhagen. Around the refinery of StatOil and the coal fired power station of Dong Energy, a large industrial complex has developed. Seven big companies have formed a cooperation that actively supports the exchange of resources and energy between the partners. This exchange has evolved gradually and organically from the Sixties. Now, at least 50 resources are exchanged, reinforcing the profitability of all the participants. Also, it creates more security of supply, and enhances the competitive edge of the companies involved.

Fotoportandcitychoho1Discussing these keynote speeches, Mr. Abdeluheb Choho, Alderman for Sustainability for the City of Amsterdam, remarks that sustainable solutions cannot be brought about by regulation or by local governments. The actual change has to come first of all from business. Even though Amsterdam is a big city, he adds, for the goal of realizing a circular economy it is not big enough. We need more cooperation on a regional level, for example to build a really extensive district heating system. But local authorities can play a supporting role in the process. “It is the job of any governement to stimulate innovation,” says Mr. Jaap Bond, Deputy of the Province of North Holland.


A new discussion group started on LinkedIn, with a focus on renewable energy, smart solutions and industrial symbiosis. Take part in the discussions on Building Partnerships for Sustainable Energy Systems


fotoportandcityGruenfeld1Hans Grünfeld of the Dutch Association of Industrial end-users VEMW talks about the role of (big) consumers in the new energy system. Open his presentation here. For Hans Grünfeld, sustainable energy systems will have to be Decarbonized, Secure and Competitively priced. That offers big challenges. To start with: reliability. The Netherlands has a good track record in the prevention of black outs, but still they occur. In the meantime, the energy system is internationalizing, production gets more regional and even local, and the share of intermittent renewable sources is growing. Another challenge is to keep up the efficiency of the system, preventing price rises. And to accomodate the demand for sustainability.
The developments in Germany show that the majority of the new renewable sources is introduced by new players. The traditional energy companies are getting obsolete. In the meantime, new energy technologies create chances for consumers and industries. End users hold the key to new sustanable energy systems, and both harbour cities and regions can play a large role in this turnaround. Grünfeld stresses the importance of this development, since Europe will have to fight to lower its energy costs compared to China and the United States.

FotoportandcityHenryStaal1Engineer Henry Staal gives a presentation on the design and the building of the district heating network in Zaanstad. The town has a lot of industry mixed with residential areas, an ideal basis for reusing industrial heat. The goal of the district heating project, started in 2011, is to build an open network, accessible to any party that wants to supply heat. No less than 23 stakeholders supported this idea, local industries, housing corporations,care institutions and local authorities. Zaanstad will not go this alone, but make the heating system part of a regional effort, incorporating both a giant heat producer like Tata Steel and the city of Amsterdam. The system is built under strict principles of cooperation, mutual trust and transparancy. One of the goals for the city is to keep energy payable for the end-user (a ‘fair deal’). The role of the Municipality in this process is that of initiator, organiser, driving force. As a neutral and reliable party, the Municipality can reach the large number of stakeholders involved in a complex process like this.

fotoportandcityjanpaulvansoest1Sustainability consultant Jan Paul van Soest gives an inspiring presentation on harbouring flexibility. The Dutch energy policy makes him think of a shipwreck…while we need a complete renewal of our energy system to prevent a planetary disaster.
in fact, the Netherlands is not de-carbonizing at the moment, but re-carbonizing. According to Jan Paul van Soest, we will need all the different technologies available to realize a non-carbon energy system, including unpopular ones like CO2-storage. He suggests we should not try to pick the winner, but let the market decide the mix of techologies. Indispensible, however, will be to attach a price to the emission of CO2, in the order of 100€ per ton, to propell the development forward.
Jan Paul expects the future power grid to be bi-directional and intelligent. We will have to invest heavily in the intelligence, the smartness of our networks. Industry can play a large role in that future system, for example by providing the flexibility to balance the system. Delivering that flexibility could be an crucial new branch of industry for ports and cities like Zaanstad.

Photography: Jolanda Hoogendoorn

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