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Heating homes in Amsterdam with a "waste-to-energy" source grid

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D2Grids Project

6880 Last modified by the author on 17/04/2020 - 12:12
Heating homes in Amsterdam with a

In Amsterdam, Waternet, the water company for the city, housing corporation De Key, and energy infra-specialist Firan have joined forces to explore options for a heating grid with heat from waste water, a source grid with 'waste-to-energy' (WtE) heating. Such a project shall be the first application of WtE heating in Amsterdam. The objective is to show that a large number of households can affordably become 'natural gas free'. A collaboration agreement was signed on 13 February 2020, in the presence of Meindert Smallenbroek, Heat and Soil director at the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate.

Source grid is a heat network

Energy infra-specialist Firan,De Key, and Waternet are researching the possibility to develop a local WtE source grid in Amsterdam using heat from sanitation. A source grid is a heat network that transports water with relatively low temperatures from a sustainable source to the customer. These exploratory ventures fit in with the municipal ambitions to make the city natural gas free by 2040. De Key's rental properties can be connected to the source net.

Renovating, increasing sustainability, removing natural gas reliance

Many homes – from the seventies – owned by Amsterdam housing associations have mediocre insulation and are collectively heated with gas boilers. First calculations indicate that a WtE source grid that uses heat from nearby large sanitation pipelines can reduce the consumption of gas by 75 to 90 percent. This significantly decreases CO2 emissions. The gas boilers remain available as backup, so residents will always have heating available. When buildings are renovated and made more sustainable, the gas boilers can become completely redundant. "De Key has the intention to gradually renovate all apartments and make them more sustainable. This is in line with our ambition of making all homes CO2 neutral by 2050. However, we cannot do that all at once, so we are handling it step by step. We are well prepared for this with a low-temperature source grid", says Eelco Siersema, Real Estate director of De Key.

WtE heating, how does it work?

With a WtE source grid the excess heat from sanitation is stored underground in Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES or 'WKO' in Dutch). The heating network is able to use these buffers to maintain a stable temperature throughout the year. "Supplying heat from sanitation is an amazing opportunity. This will enable us to contribute to the transition towards a natural gas free society", says Roelof Kruize, director of Waternet. "Waternet strives to gain as many resources and energy back from the water cycle as possible."

Water pumps in all apartment flats ensure the heat is efficiently upgraded. This is brought to the correct temperature for comfortable heating and warm water in the apartments. "By using WtE heating for the sustainable heating of social housing, De Key is ahead in the application of low-temperature heating networks", says André Meijer, Director of Firan, which would like to develop the infrastructure for the new source grid. "The project provides inspiration and insights for other projects that are making the transition to natural gas free neighbourhoods."

Low-temperature heating offers opportunities

After the first positive calculation, thorough calculations are now being made on the basis of the Total Cost of Ownership. This researches whether the proposed source grid is in fact more sustainable and affordable than other solutions. The municipality of Amsterdam supports this exploration. "Amsterdam should be a natural gas free city by 2040. That means we need to heat homes differently, preferably with a heating source that is as sustainable as possible", says Marieke van Doornick, alderman Spatial Planning and Sustainability. "We still have little experience with heat generation from sanitation. It is good to see that Firan, De Key, and Waternet are experimenting with this, so we can also apply the lessons learned to other areas in the city."

According to Leen van Dijke, chair of Stroomversnelling, sustainable heating grids, including a WtE source grid, are essential in order to meet the Dutch climate goals. Sustainable heating networks, meaning they are fossil-fuel free, are excellent for providing homes with heat and warm water. This concerns – contrary to the traditional heating grids – low-temperature systems. The Amsterdam initiative fits perfectly with the strategy of Stroomvernelling, which is co-organiser of the meeting with the director of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate. This collaboration can explore the different avenues towards large-scale applications by all kinds of parties that meet each other at a neighbourhood level.

Link to the original article : https://energielinq.stroomversnelling.nl/warmtenetten/bronnet-met-riothermie-voor-woningen-in-amsterdam/

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