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The region of Alkmaar has the most sustainable heating network in the Netherlands

The Alkmaar Regional heating network, which is located in the municipalities of Alkmaar, Heiloo, Langedijk and Heerhugowaard, has been connected to HVC's bio-energy plant since the beginning of January. As a result, the heat supplied to all connected houses and buildings is 100% green. In December 2017, that is why the industry declared the heating network to be the most sustainable in the Netherlands. This is an exceptional acknowledgement and something of which the HVC and the four municipalities are extremely proud. Today, the connection to the bio-energy plant was confirmed at a meeting in the Alkmaar Van der Meij College. The bio-energy plant produces renewable energy and heat by burning waste wood and dried sludge.

Director of Sustainable Energy HVC Arjan ten Elshof: "Currently, there are some 6,000 connections to the 30-kilometre long heating network and in the coming years this number will be expanded to more than 15,000. The effect of this is considerable: connecting one house to the heating grid reduces CO2 emissions as much as 22 solar panels on a roof each year. Alderman Jan Nagengast (Alkmaar) is also pleased with the developments: "The heating network is continuing to expand outward, also to the municipalities of Langedijk and Heerhugowaard. More and more houses and large buildings in Alkmaar such as the AZ stadium, the Hoornse Vaart swimming pool and the new Victorie concert venue are benefiting from the most sustainable heating network in the Netherlands.

Alkmaar's regional heating network from HVC fits into the government's plan to create a natural gas-free Netherlands.

This method of using heat is a big step in the transition the Netherlands is undertaking to phase out the use of natural gas. The government has decided that our energy supply must be fully sustainable by 2050. That is an enormous task. Part of this task is a natural gas-free Netherlands; more than 7 million households have to move away from natural gas. As a fossil fuel, natural gas contributes to climate change. For a climate-neutral Netherlands, we will have to switch to new ways of heating, showering and cooking. Municipalities will have an important role to play, supervising this transition to a working society without natural gas. The Alderman for Sustainability for Heerhugowaard, Monique Stam-de Nijs says, "Heerhugowaard wants the heating grid to supply the Alton area as well as Zuidwijk and part of Huygenhoek with heat so that the Heerhugowaard glasshouse agricultural businesses can make their energy requirements more sustainable in one fell swoop."

Technicians are desperately needed for the energy transition

Today, Alkmaar's regional heating network is officially connected to the bio-energy plant of HVC. This took place during a meeting at the Alkmaar Van der Meij College. A fitting location, as it trains young people to become the technicians needed to achieve the energy transition. Ten Elshof explains, "The number of jobs in the technical sector is growing ten times faster than in other professions. Over the next three years, an estimated 80,000 jobs are to going be created. To make young people enthusiastic about the profession, this year we are going to provide regional guest lectures at technical and secondary schools about how the heating network operates and the energy transition. Diederik Samsom (HVC strategic adviser) kicked things off at the beginning of January with a lecture for students at the Van der Meij College, where we were a guest today.

Collaborating on a regional approach

During the meeting, municipalities, housing corporations, HVC and other stakeholders discussed how to decouple houses and buildings from the fossil fuel of natural gas in the Alkmaar region and connect them to sustainable, green energy sources for heating and hot water. During the meeting, the Alkmaar housing corporations Van Alckmaer voorWonen, Kennemer Wonen, Woonwaard and Woningstichting Langedijk called on municipalities, network managers and other stakeholders to work together on a regional plan to achieve this. Director Pierre Sponselee of Woonwaard: "As housing corporations, we opt for all-electric or sustainable heat. For new buildings, but also increasingly applied to existing homes. By working together with regional partners, we are jointly implementing the Paris Agreement. We are letting go of gas!"

HVC also distanced itself from natural gas

In order to make its own business operations more sustainable, HVC is also looking for improvements to reduce the amount of natural gas used. Many concrete steps have already been taken in recent years: by further reducing the use of natural gas in the waste-to-energy plants and by heating the offices using their own heat instead of gas. HVC has also recently researched the possibilities of drastically reducing the consumption of natural gas. This can be done by using the heat that is released during waste incineration. The investment programme for this purpose is now being worked out. In doing so, HVC is in line with Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate, who last Monday called on large companies to accelerate the phasing out of natural gas from Gro