Heating sector forms alliance for affordable, sustainable heating

Working collectively WarmingUP on accelerating innovations in the heating sector

Gas supplies are to be eliminated from the built environment as part of the Climate Agreement. Heat networks are one of the solutions here. The challenge is to deliver sustainable heating in existing buildings in a cost-effective way. In addition, the pace of implementation needs to increase in view of the major challenges facing the Netherlands. A consortium of parties active in the entire sector, from heat source to customer, has set up an alliance to achieve these goals. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) announced today that the new innovative sustainable heating collective WarmingUP will receive a subsidy amounting to 9.3 million euros as part of the Long-Term Mission-Driven Innovation Programme (MMIP).

A range of actors are involved in the integrated heating chain from source to customer. System and process innovations are needed to design, install and manage all heat supplies more efficiently. The heating collective WarmingUP was set up to develop these innovations in a coordinated way and at a faster pace. With the investment of €9.5 million by the alliance partners themselves, the total funding available will amount to €18.8 million.


WarmingUP, managed by TNO, can collectively address issues relating to cost reduction and sustainability in an integrated way, and develop the relevant solutions that are available at many locations. The main goal of WarmingUP is to develop collective heating systems that are affordable, sustainable, reliable, practical and socially acceptable. It means, for example, that new knowledge can be used to combine sustainable heat sources with different temperatures and volumes in smart ways The aim is also to develop the knowledge required for the realisation of large-scale thermal storage systems and their integration in heat networks. For example, research is focusing on where and at what cost heat can be extracted by using aquathermal or geothermal energy systems. Finally, the consortium is focusing on the development of new forms of collaboration and financing, as well as new ways of generating public support.

Innovation plan for sustainable heat

In order to achieve these goals, an innovation plan has been drawn up consisting of 32 projects that have been grouped in six related themes focusing on:

  • Design and management of heat networks, system integration and cascading (theme 1), methods for constructing these networks (theme 2) and driving demand (theme 6)
  • Sustainable sources and seasonal storage – aquathermal energy (theme 3), geothermal energy (theme 4) and heat storage (theme 5)
    Social integration of collective heating systems (theme 6).
  • Upscaling, reducing costs and achieving sustainability in collective heating systems requires a new way of thinking about heat supplies. During the three-year period, this innovation plan will lay down the foundations for the achievement of the ambitions for making heating systems in the built environment more sustainable.

KWR’s role

KWR is making a wide-ranging contribution to WarmingUP: as the leader of the subsurface heat storage theme and by participating in research addressing the themes of geothermal energy and the social integration of sustainable heat networks. WarmingUP also includes a project for the collective drinking water research programme ‘WiCE’. Water companies, KWR and partners are working together on social issues in that programme (‘Water in the Circular Economy’). The link between WiCE and WarmingUP allows the drinking water sector to join this unique alliance and contribute to knowledge development and innovations for a sustainable energy supply.


  • Heating companies: Eneco, Unnatural, HVC, SVP and Vattenfall
  • Grid companies: Capturam, Enpuls, Firan/Alliander and NetVerder
  • Parties in the water sector: Rijkswaterstaat, STOWA and the Dutch Association of Regional Water Authorities
  • Parties in subsurface energy: BodemenergieNL, EBN, Engie, Huisman and Shell
  • Municipalities and regions: Almere, Amsterdam, Breda, The Hague, Nijmegen, Rotterdam and Utrecht, and the Holland-Rhineland region
  • Provincial authorities: Limburg and Zuid-Holland
  • Research organisations: Deltares, Erasmus University Rotterdam, KWR, Saxion Hogescholen, TNO (lead), Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology and Utrecht University
  • Other participants: De Efteling, Adviesbureau Greenvis, Coöperatie Duurzame Vruchtenbuurt and living lab The Green Village