Spotlight on the Regional Energy Strategy

Witteveen+Bos advises on the development of the strategy and vision of regional and local energy strategies?

Which heat sources can be used? Where is space and how much? Are the locations socially acceptable and financially feasible?

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The Netherlands’ government published the Climate Agreement on 28 June 2019, the Dutch elaboration of the international Paris Climate Accord (2015). We are going to reduce carbon emissions significantly together: in 2030 by 49 per cent compared to 1990. One of the agreements is that 30 energy regions in the Netherlands will investigate where and how best to generate sustainable electricity on land (wind and sun).

Which heat sources can be used is also under investigation, so that neighbourhoods and buildings can move away from natural gas. Where is there space, and how much? Are the locations societally acceptable and financially feasible? In a Regional Energy Strategy (RES), each energy region describes its own choices. The National RES Programme supports the regions in creating the RES.

Witteveen+Bos advises citizens, authorities and businesses in the development of the strategy and vision up to and including the formation of programmes and projects. We support the formulation of the regional and local energy strategy through an integrated approach.

West-Overijssel

Together with Buro Loo, Sjoerd Janse of Witteveen+Bos was involved in drawing up the heat chapter in West-Overijssel, the so-called Regional Structure Heat of the RES. ‘In collaboration with eleven municipalities, four water boards, three grid managers and the province, we mapped out the heat specifications (including savings), analysed the potential heat sources and drew up the building blocks for the follow-up process.’

'Especially the local imbalance between supply and demand and regional synergy benefits make coordination and cooperation essential. '

It is particularly the local imbalance between supply and demand and regional synergy benefits which makes coordination and cooperation essential. Janse: ‘In Zwartewaterland and Zwolle, for example, there is a potentially high heat supply given the possibility of geothermal energy. The supply is very limited in Deventer, Hardenberg and Raalte, partly due to soil constraints. These municipalities may be able to make greater use of renewable gases; there is high availability in the region because of the large agricultural sector.’

The crucial question is who has the final say, or will take or be given it, in allocating heat sources and the costs. This question will have to be answered by various layers of government before the final version, the Regional Energy Strategy 1.0, in the summer of 2021.

Drenthe

Energy transition and the restoration of biodiversity are both important issues for the province of Drenthe. Although they may occasionally appear to be contradictory, the Regional Energy Strategy (RES) also offers opportunities to address these issues cohesively. This helps the process of energy transition while offering new opportunities to strengthen natural values. That’s why Witteveen+Bos is working with ecological research and consultancy firm Altenburg & Wymenga to draw up an ecological opportunity study for RES Drenthe.

This approach has two major advantages. First, getting an early handle on ecological risks avoids unpleasant surprises for energy projects. This exploration shows how vulnerable species and natural areas can be taken into account in advance, so that the (cumulative) ecological impact of the energy transition remains limited. This lets initiators choose their locations better, contributing to the support base and feasibility of energy projects. Second, exploring energy and nature issues in a RES context offers an insight into new combinations. For example, combining solar energy with the realisation of parts of ecological connecting zones, or raising the water level in peatlands to prevent subsidence and CO2 emissions. This enables the benefits of the energy transition to strengthen nature targets. The Drenthe Regional Energy Strategy explores these opportunities.