Local authorities, companies and institutions are joining forces to expand district heating networks in the Amsterdam metropolitan area. No less than 25 partners signed a contract to intensify cooperation between existing networks, and connect more consumers to district heating systems.
The Netherlands are lagging behind in the construction of heating networks. Only 4% of Dutch heating requirements is provided by district heating (comparing unfavorably to a share of more than 30% in Sweden, and more than 40% in Denmark). But now the metropolitan region of Amsterdam is planning a rapid growth of district heating systems. The ultimate goal is to service 400.000 ‘household equivalents’, roughly one third of all households in the region.
Sustainability is the driver of this development. Many industrial facilities in the region are dumping excess heat from their production process in the atmosphere. At the same time, fossil fuel is burned to heat homes, institutions and offices. District heating systems can be fed with excess heat (and with heat produced from renewable sources), reducing energy costs and CO2 emissions.
In principle, the relatively compact and densely populated Amsterdam region is well suited to district heating. The population of the region is expected to keep on growing in the coming decades, propelling the construction of new housing quarters. But, as a number of speakers during the signing ceremony stated, the real target of the expansion of district heating should be in existing buildings, the ‘built environment’. This is where the real reduction in CO2-emissions can be realized. The Zaanstad alderman for the Environment Dick Emmer saw an added benefit: the energy costs for tenants in social housing projects can be reduced.
For more background on district heating in Zaanstad, see the interview with project coordinator Henry Staal.
Among the participants in the metropolitan district heating network we find no less than 10 Municipalities (including Amsterdam and Zaanstad), the Province, waste incinerators AEB and HVC, energy companies Cofely, Nuon and Eneco, network company Alliander, and the industrial giant TATA Steel. Eleven housing associations (providers of social housing) have signed a ‘letter of intent’ to support the heating network.