Summary masterclasses NL: City and regions – Sustainable Regions

MUAD SUSREG workshopsThe Master of Urban & Area Development (Muad) organized two open classes in Deventer and Utrecht. Three speakers presented their experiences within the European SUSREG project. A summary.


Differences between countries in urgency, control, regulation and scale

Esther Roth from  W/E Consultants is project leader of the  SUSREG project. She considered the projects in the six participating countries: Czech Republic, Cyprus, Spain, Italy, Denmark and  the Netherlands. Her most important conclusion: Outstanding are the differences between the countries. Not so much in technique, for that is the same everywhere but, especially in urgency, control, regulation and scale.

Strong coal industry in Czech Republic

For example, in the Czech Republic the coal industry is still in full operation; the urgency to get going with renewable energy is yet scarcely felt. However, they also don’t undergo the dialectics of leads. For example the renovation of a block of houses in the Czech city of Bronx the ambition is to renovate immediately to the level of passive houses.

Car traffic in Cyprus bigger problem than renewable energy

There is also no urgency in Cyprus for more sustainability.  The most important problem in Cyprus is the car traffic, with negative consequences like (emissions, noise, parking problems, congestion) and at  the same time each household forced several cars. People are very attached to the freedom of the car. Therefore an awareness campaign is started.

As already mentioned control and regulation differ widely. In some countries such as the Czech Republic and Cyprus, there is hardly a national sustainability policy. In the other countries they have national regulation but, the manner of control / regulation varies. In Italy, for example, one can enforce sustainability with national regulations. In the Netherlands, however, local initiatives for wind turbines do not succeed due to a (perceived) lack of support or conflicting municipal and provincial interests. This threatens the viability of national targets.

Poject Denmark most ambitious

Regarding the scale of the projects in the Czech Republic and Spain these are especially inserted locally. In some countries projects are more regional of nature and the most ambitious is the project in Denmark.  The project  is a collaboration between 29 municipalities in the Greater Region Copenhagen. These 29 municipalities are  working together for a shared vision to create an energy neutral area. The use of local measures, such as solar panels, heat pumps and home insulation is not sufficient to make the region energy neutral.

Important conclusion of Esther Roth is that regional cooperation is necessary, to enable for example the development of wind farms and biomass plants.

Generating energy needs space

The contribution of Jos Verweij of the Municipality of Arnhem, fits well into this conclusion. He represents the City Region Arnhem-Nijmegen, one of the two Dutch participants of the SUSREG project. His proposition is: generating energy needs space and keep this in mind in spatial plans. In his presentation he works this out for different scales: building, district, city level and for the regional level. He shows if you want to make a region truly energy neutral, you must take appropriate measures at all levels. You have to be able to switch between scales and last but not least, there have to be collaboration between all levels.

With this proposition in mind a workgroup of both municipalities has mapped what it takes for the region to become energy neutral in 2050. In addition to energy savings, this means a task of 56.1 PJ of renewable energy generation through wind, solar, biomass and waste heat from the heat networks (district heating).

A task equal to 377 wind turbines of 3 MW / unit, harnessing all roofs for solar energy and 8 km2 solar fields and biomass cultivation in backlands and in floodplains.  After this the workgroup started to look how this spatially could be implemented.  Brainstorming in this way it did become clear that each municipality could never achieve this individually. One of the ideas was to use the route of the A15 to create a corridor with wind turbines (instead of dispersed locations) and for biomass cultivation. Another one was to link the heat networks of Arnhem and Nijmegen. The latter has now happened.

Spatial planning in conjunction with topsoil and subsoil

TFigure Energy Preferred Cardhe third presentation was of Brenda Schuurkamp of the ODMH, a statuary (environmental) organization for municipalities. The ODMH is a partnership of 10 municipalities around Gouda, in the area Midden-Holland. Her message is: Spatial planning should obvious be done in conjunction with topsoil and subsoil. Her organization has mapped potential feasibilities for different forms of energy such as underground thermal storage (open and closed systems) and (deep) geothermal energy. Subsequently, these feasibilities are linked to plans for housing, business and horticulture. The latter sector has much need of heat and is therefore very suitable for sources of geothermal energy. See figure Energy Preferred Card

By working together in an early stage in decision making about land use plans, decision makers  could bring forward in an early stage the potentials of geothermal energy in that specific area. This already is taking place in a number of cases. The most important thing what is missing, is the lack of knowledge about the possibilities of utilization of geothermal energy. ODMH has already  made a manual with tips how to take along with renewable energy in the different phases (from initiative to demolition phase) of planning. These tips are very broad and cover financing, construction, communication channels, performance agreements, administration and control and reuse of materials.