In the early 90s residents in Amsterdam had their own boilers, there was no centralised heat network, and carbon emissions in the city were rising. The Municipal Authority selected Vattenfall (Nuon) as their partner for the long term, recognising the cultural challenge of changing habits, behaviours and accepted norms did not align with delivering a smart, future proofed and decarbonised energy system. Looking back now, 24 years later, this partnership has overcome the obstacles and challenges and now 177,000 customers are connected with more added each week. This has resulted in a reduction in carbon emissions of 75% and has been accepted across the city with new developers and residents as part of the landscape and a new-norm. Looking forward we are working in partnership with the city to introduce new low carbon technologies on the site, and deliver network extensions which provide simple, efficient and reliable connections for new developments in a rapidly growing modern city.
From gas to city heat
The growth of the heat network in Amsterdam can be attributed to a number of key points.
- The City of Amsterdam made a firm commitment to move away from gas
- A 50 year concession zone was established, with exclusivity in the zone
- There was a mandate to connect for customers and a compulsion for Vattenfall to connect to customers
- Consumers were protected by a "niet meer dan anders" principle meaning that on average their costs should not be higher than if they had a gas-fired heating solution.
- Returns were capped, and if this cap was reached, either heat price is reduced or further investment in the grid is pursued
The future of district heating
The Amsterdam city network has grown from zero customers in 1994 to 177,000 customers today. It has allowed the integration of smaller networks as they could join the larger network, they could then be optimised. The city of Almere was connected by a 12km sub-sea transmission pipe, and this negated the need to reinvest in another CHP plant. The ambition is to connect 50% of the city by 2040 and drive down the CO2 emissions of the city of Amsterdam.