13 Aug 2021

The establishment of an open district heating network

Warmtenetwerk Zaanstad B.V. has created the first open district heating network in the Netherlands in Zaanstad-Oost. This organization is a partnership between the municipality of Zaanstad, Firan, and the provincial authority of Noord-Holland. Thanks to the open structure, all suppliers and customers will ultimately be able to use the heating infrastructure under the same conditions. The district heating network, which has supplied heat to an existing residential district since 2019, is powered by a local small-scale biomass plant in this early phase. In the future, we will also be able to connect newly constructed homes and create links for new products, suppliers and users.

The open district heating network combines the usage of waste heat from industries in the area and the capacity of the CHP. This combination provides local green heat and energy to private and public housing, schools, institutions, and businesses for a competitive price.

The network has the potential to act as a buffer for renewable electricity produced in periods of low electricity demand. The surplus of renewable electricity can be converted into heat and temporally stored in heat buffers and used at a later date. The project can also offer balancing capacity to network operators in the national electricity grid. In the future this is becoming more and more important due to additional on- and offshore wind capacities in the Netherlands. The total achieved greenhouse gas emission savings equal to approx. 4,500 tons of CO2 per annum. In addition it is estimated that the project will produce around 735,000 kWh per annum of electricity.

The Municipality of Zaanstad is part of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. It has around 150,000 inhabitants and it is aiming to play a leading role in the energy transition, stimulating local energy production from waste heat and renewable sources. The project, to combine local sources of (waste) energy with local demand, is one of the major components of the climate program of the municipality to realize energy savings, CO2 reduction and a rising share of renewables in the energy mix of the municipality.