On 28 March we organised this first full-day event of this year in the Stadspaleis ZZIIN in The Hague. We were pleased to welcome a record number of more than 160 participants and 28 speakers to attend our plenary session, focus groups, demo’s and network lunch.

The theme of the day was the "HEAT TRANSITION - SCALE TO THE PEOPLE", and more specifically the need to integrally scale up production, distribution, and use of sustainable heat as well as all the necessary measures to take behind the front door of the people, such as insulation, renovation and other adjustments. Because of the high impact of this transition on people’s living environment it is crucial to fully take into account how to engage the people at home with a proposition they understand and appreciate.

Before we split up in the sessions of each of our Focus Groups in the morning Tjalling de Vries from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate set the scene. He presented the current policy developments and the complications and challenges policy makers have to deal with.

In the following breakout session of the Focus Group Heat Transition Johan Noordhoek gave the local perspective of the Municipality of The Hague and demonstrated the provisional zoning they propose in The Hague when it comes the choosing between heat solutions. He announced how the municipality takes the bold step to scale up and prepare a tender in the market to make some 50,000 houses ready to receive sustainable collective heat from geothermal and residual and other heat sources. Daphne Braal and Albena Vassileva added perspectives from a social housing association and a large scale pension investor respectively.  Daphne stressed the importance of coordination at a regional level, and the importance for the parties to seriously take social responsibility into account when they work with social housing associations. Albena showed how her organisation invests for the benefit of the pension holders and presented huge economies of scale that always apply to these kind of activities. The broadly shared conclusion of the morning session seemed that scale is not only needed because we are lagging behind in achieving the 2030 goals of the Dutch Climate Agreement, but also because larger scale means more organizational efficiency, quality of services, security of supply and lower costs. Such scale would require much more closer collaboration, trust amongst parties, transparency and clarity.

During the plenary session after lunch Teun Bokhoven, Jeroen van Duin and Eveline Otten each emphasized inclusive cooperation and trust throughout the whole heat value chain. At present, the value chain falls apart in too many loose parts. Parties need to further learn how they can best working together and achieve an integral proposition sufficiently convincing for the people at home to actually make the change. Ruud Bos gave us a view in the year 2043 when WarmtelinQ will have lived up to its promise to accelerate the heat transition supporting transportation and sustainable heat exchange of residual heat, geothermal and other heat sources, as well as the development of large and small scale heat projects.

Tom Egyedi and panel member Bettelies Westerbeek, a pastor who lives and works in Moerwijk, took everybody out of their technocratic minds to the real life situations people experience in both richer and poorer neighbourhoods in The Hague. They experience the strong impact of the hustle of the opened streets, the necessary works in their houses, the paper administration and many people of different organisations suddenly turning up at their front door, and the consequences on their (energy) bills they often find difficult and stressful to keep up with in the first place. They often feel overlooked, and require more serious attention and involvement. Wouter van der Wildenberg presented how indeed all parties could work in a framework that focuses much more how all parties involved can organise themselves around for example an energy service company (ESCO) to service the customer much more transparently and better.

It was Olof van der Gaag who launched an impressive proposition to cut through this complexity with an offer you can’t refuse ( As chair of the NVDE he proposed, (based on calculations made by Ecorys) to reinvest an amount similar to the 11 billion euro now made available to redeem the extremely high energy bills into a new large scale insulation and renewable energy program for about 1,1 million of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Netherlands. This would structurally relief many people out of energy poverty and reduce CO2 emissions significantly. The scale and integral approach of the plan would mean a substantial cost reduction as well, and would get the sector in shape to perform towards the goals of 2050.

Panelists Youri de KoomenAnne Melchers, Teun Bokhoven, Tom Egyedi, Olof van der Gaag and Bettelies Westerbeek broadely discussed how such a plan could indeed maybe cut through present complexity the heat transition deals with, and may represent an opportunity of scale to the people. Tom Egyedi and Bettelies Westerbeek saw how plans like these could actually make a positive change for the people at home. Manja Thiry closed the event with a great key note speech on the theme of the day. She explained very well by the metaphor of the Spanish ‘pina’ tradition of building human towers how important and how many people have to stand well organised with full trust on each other’s shoulders to actually make the heat transition work.

In addition to the session of the Focus Group Heat Transition there we also successful breakout sessions of the Focus Groups CCUS, Offshore Energy and Digital Energy, and a demo of the WarmingUP Design Toolkit by TNO/Deltares and the Rijswijk Centre for Sustainable Geo-energy and the Energy Cave. And we launched a poll asking our members for their ideas about possible new Focus Groups. Following the kick-off meeting we held in January, we also explicitly expressed the importance to involve more young professionals in the activities of our community.

All presentations as well as a summary video of the day and the photos taken can be found at the website by using the black button VIEW ON WEBSITE. This button is shown both at the top and bottom of this email. Or login with your personal login code. Go to FORUM, select EVENTS and select 2023-03 - HEAT TRANSITION - SCALE TO THE PEOPLE.

Looking forward to meeting you again on 8 June 2023.
Author: Barthold Schroot
siemens shell deloitte EBN tennet tno
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