How does the energy transition transform our cities and landscapes?

Energy & Spatial Changes seminar @ Pakhuys de Zwijger

The transition towards a low-carbon future is accelerating across all sectors in The Netherlands. On Tuesday December 12 Pakhuys de Zwijger hosted an event on how the energy transition affects space in the urban environment. Different questions were addressed; How much space does the energy transition require and are we able to accommodate those needs in our densely populated country? What is the spatial impact of this transition on the living environment, in both urban and rural landscapes?

Uncertainty reduction in smart energy systems

This event is co-organized by the AMS institute, AMS dives into the dynamics and solutions of the sustainable energy transition; and explores its spatial, social and technological questions for the city of Amsterdam, its metropolitan region and the Netherlands as a whole. This is the reason AMS also funds the URSES research program which our research on Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage systems @ TUDelft is part of. Therefore, they asked me to tell about how ATES systems affect subsurface space in cities at this event.

The energy transition will affect the space in cities… and in rural areas and… at sea

Basic calculations in the first contribution of the evening already made it very clear; for dense urban settings like we have in NL it is impossible to get all the required energy for heating, cooling, transport and power from the city area and direct surroundings. There is currently one city in Europe who succeeded to do so: Sienna. Sienna has 100 inhabitants/km2, Amsterdam 5000. So next to improving existing technologies we also need many new solutions, reduce demand dramatically and then still probably import sustainable energy. In the end we thus definitely see the effect of the energy transition in the urban environment. ATES and other types of subsurface thermal energy storage systems may contribute significantly to energy savings, without affecting the living environment. Of course we do need to carefully exploit and utilize subsurface space to attain maximum energy saving and sustainable use of it. But that is exactly what we are working on.