Financing earmarked from National Growth Fund to secure Dutch water availability

The Blue Motor consortium wants to invest heavily for ten years in the availability of water in the Netherlands through the Water Technology Growth Plan. An application has been submitted to the National Growth Fund for co-financing. Today, on the advice of the National Growth Fund advisory committee, the Dutch government decided to earmark a maximum of €135 million.

The National Growth Fund advisory committee believes there is enough potential in the Water Technology Growth Plan of the Blue Motor consortium to earmark this funding. A large number of parties have joined forces in the Water Technology Growth Plan to safeguard the future of Dutch water availability and in that way to further structural and sustainable economic growth – in other words, sustainable earning capacity – in the Netherlands. The advisory committee acknowledges that the consortium is unique in scope and size. The Blue Motor is collaborating in the Water Technology Growth Plan to maintain adequate supplies of clean water for consumers, business, agriculture and nature. The plan covers the entire ecosystem: from research, development and implementation to national and international valorisation. In the time to come, the adjustments and supporting arguments that have been requested will be submitted in order to proceed to the definitive allocation of the funding.

Concerns about water availability

Despite the wet summer of 2021, there is rising concern about the availability of enough clean water in the Netherlands. As a result of climate change, increasing water demand and pollution, water shortages are becoming increasingly frequent. Drinking water company Vitens and water company Waternet recently sounded the alarm because of the threat to water availability. The Drought Monitor reported that March 2022 was a very dry month and, as a result, the water level in the Rhine at the end of March was historically low. Industrial companies are facing the threat of shortages of water/cooling water, while farmers are encountering dry land or groundwater salinisation. Nature is also suffering increasingly from falling water levels.

Sustainable, circular and future-resilient

The aim of the Water Technology Growth Plan is to secure the availability of enough clean water through good cooperation and smart new technological solutions. This can be done by accelerating, scaling up and demonstrating innovations in practice. “This is extremely urgent,” explains Jantienne van der Meij, the director of the Water Technology Top Consortium for Knowledge and Innovation (TKI). “In the Netherlands, the water sector has traditionally been subdivided between numerous parties. Drinking water companies, businesses, research institutes and government authorities could work together even better. If we are serious about tackling increasing drought and water pollution, we must start developing integrated solutions. By sitting down at the drawing board together at an early stage, we can establish sustainable, circular, and therefore future-resilient, water availability, with the sector also having the opportunity to earn a good living through exports.” The Blue Motor consortium consists of a broad spectrum of parties from the sector. The following parties are leading programmes and/or work packages: Wetsus, KWR, Stowa, Vechtstromen Water Authority, Water Alliance, Water Technology TKI, Water Technology Centre of Expertise and Royal HaskoningDHV.

Economic prospects

The Water Technology Growth Plan represents a significant boost for Dutch economic growth and export opportunities. It generates additional employment, secures the business climate for companies and opens up opportunities for the export-oriented Dutch water technology sector. “The involvement of private parties in the broad coalition secures the flow of knowledge to skills and then cash,” Van der Meij explains.

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management proposed the Water Technology Growth Plan; the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate is a partner.

Enough clean water

The Water Technology Growth Plan includes both large- and small-scale solutions. These include the efficient use of water in production processes, the early detection of leaks in pipelines, or the recovery of residual substances, energy and water. The relevance for, and good coordination with, other sectors such as agriculture, horticulture, food, health and energy are also important. Van der Meij: “The Netherlands is, for example, on the eve of an energy transition. This requires a mix of different sustainable technologies. The water sector makes an important contribution here through, among other things, Blue Energy and hydrogen. Producing hydrogen requires large amounts of clean water and sustainable production. This also makes the Growth Plan crucial to the energy ambitions of the Netherlands.”

National Growth Fund

The National Growth Fund (NGF) is an initiative of the Ministries of Economic Affairs and Climate Change and of Finance. The fund was established to make public investments that contribute to the sustainable earning capacity of the Netherlands. The National Growth Fund was set up in 2020 and it is intended for one-off public investments. With the National Growth Fund, the Dutch government is earmarking €20 billion for projects between 2021 and 2025. These are targeted investments in two areas with the most opportunities for structural and sustainable economic growth. These are: knowledge development and research, development and innovation. This is the second round, in which the advisory committee reviewed 35 proposals. With support from the Central Planning Bureau and a range of experts, the proposals were assessed on the basis of their expected impact on earning capacity, the strategic underpinning, the quality of the plan, and the quality of cooperation and governance.