A sustainable heat transition
A warm home, comfortable offices, productive plants, factories and commercial greenhouses: some 40% of all the energy we use in the Netherlands is used for heating and for industrial processes. That’s a huge proportion! It also means a big opportunity to accelerate the energy transition. Making our heat more sustainable would be a gigantic step forward.
But it’s not a simple step to take. More than is the case with the current natural-gas-based heating system, a sustainable heating system requires precise coordination between the demand for heat and its supply from green – preferably local – sources. That is a complex process. But it’s also a process where EBN can make a difference.
Over the past 50 years, we have acquired a great deal of knowledge in the area of the Dutch extractive industries, the ‘subsurface business’ domain. And we are now sharing that knowledge to strengthen the Dutch heating sector and accelerate the transition to a sustainable heating value and supply chain.
Geothermal energy is an indispensable link in the sustainable heat transition. This source has already been used for some time in the commercial greenhouse sector, but is also suitable for heating homes and buildings. That is why we are pursuing the development of geothermal heat connected to heat networks.
And not just by sharing knowledge either: we are also taking on a risk-bearing stake in a growing number of geothermal energy projects in the Netherlands, on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. From the second half of 2023, we will even be required by law to get involved. At least 50 projects will be underway in seven years’ time, good for at least the equivalent of 500,000 homes being supplied with sustainable heat per year.
We are also conducting research with partners in places where there is a great need for heat but little knowledge of the subsurface, so that we can better visualise the potential of geothermal energy and increase the chance of success. An excellent example of this is the SCAN research programme.
Lastly, we are exploring the possibility of temporarily storing high-temperature heat underground (HT-ATES). The thermal energy stored this way can be used later, during cold snaps and at other times when extra heat is required, increasing the security of supply.
These are functions that suit EBN well, because we have the financial strength to invest in geothermal energy projects, for example, and because of the role we can play in the heat value and supply chain. Heat networks cost tens of billions of euros to build, and capital-rich companies are needed to finance this.
Thanks to our portfolio approach, we have good global insight into projects across the country and we can share successful examples and valuable lessons with all parties, helping to increase the quality of projects and reduce the social costs of the heat transition.
We also have a great deal of experience in public-private partnerships. Whether we take a leading role or play our part in the background, we always act as a connecting agent and accelerator, and sometimes also as a coordinator. And in the heat transition, too, we can bring the right players together and ensure that the transition continues to keep pace.
We are truly motivated to apply our knowledge and resources to secure a sustainable heat transition. Together with all parties involved, we want to ensure that sustainable heat is available and affordable – now and in the future.