100 years of heat grids in the Netherlands

In 1923, Eneco’s legal predecessor Pegus connected Utrecht’s General Hospital on Catharijnesingel to the very first heat grid in the Netherlands. 100 years on, heat grids still offer great benefits as a collective means to more sustainable heat consumption: in the intermediate period, we have shifted from coal to sustainable heat sources.

100 years ago, it was quite common to have coal stoves installed in rooms that needed heating, but that situation changed with the introduction of the heat grid. From that point on,  power plants supplied elektricity and heat to the heat grid; as a result, power plants were improved their efficiency, coal consumption dropped and pollution caused by smoke cleared up considerably. And so began a heating transition that continues to this day; today, we are focusing on going greener.

A sustainable supply of heat
A century after the first heat grid was laid we are switching to sustainable heat sources. Every heat grid offers chances to advance the transition. For instance, we are expanding the use of residual heat from the Port of Rotterdam district to more parts of the Randstad metropolitan area. Other opportunities include investments in new non-fossil sources. Eneco, for example, is constructing a new aquathermal energy plant in Utrecht, which will soon draw energy from waste water purified by De Stichtse Rijnlanden Water Authority for the heat grid in Utrecht and Nieuwegein.

Investing in heat gridsWerkbezoek Haverstraat
Development of new or alternative sources remains crucial, but the same applies to investments in heat grids to guarantee that customers always have a reliable supply of heat. That is why Eneco is currently investing in renewing the heat grid in Utrecht’s Haverstraat. There, new pipes are replacing the 70-year-old heating pipes. However, this job is far from straightforward, because the old pipes were laid in the town’s boatyard cellars under the streets, which form part of Utrecht’s heritage. In other words, Eneco must work very carefully when laying the pipes to avoid damaging Utrecht’s historic features.

Photo: Lot van Hooijdonk, Alderman for Energy and Climate Policy in Utrecht, and Manja Thiry, Eneco’s Director of Heat, visited this replacement project in the Haverstraat together on 23 May.

The new Heat Act
Eneco and Eneco’s legal predecessors have been working hard to improve and expand collective heat grids for 100 years. In urban areas, heat grids afford opportunities to accelerate the creation of a sustainable heat supply. If the advantages offered are to be fully exploited, it is essential that the Heat Act offers sufficient prospects for heating companies and accommodates for continued investments in sustainability and expansion, because the transition to sustainable heating at the lowest possible social costs can only be accomplished by those means.
Within the current plans for the new Heat Act a new balance between the development of heat grid and sources is necessary. Collaboration between all the parties involved is of the essence. After all, the ultimate aim should still be to accelerate the heating transition without losing sight of either the affordability of heat for consumers or the benefits for our climate.