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The energy transition is under way with electricity, heat, hydrogen and demiwater

Solar energy for Nieuwegein residents

In partnership with Allied Waters, Ad van Wijk, Professor of Future Energy Systems at TU Delft, gave a lecture on 10 November at KWR on the ‘Power-to-X concept’. Along with co-authors Els van der Roest (KWR) and Jos Boere (Allied Waters), Van Wijk, who is active one day a week at KWR, presented the Solar Power to the People book to Nieuwegein’s mayor Frans Backhuijs. The book describes how Allied Water and the municipality of Nieuwegein will be implementing a unique solar heating and rainwater energy system, which offers a concrete local solution to a global problem.

Nine hundred homes equipped with solar cells and rainwater harvesting systems, in an 8.6 megawatt-peak (MWp) solar park with rainwater harvesting, will together produce 10 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity and 60,000 cubic meters of rainwater annually. This is enough to satisfy all of the homes’ energy needs, be it for heating, electricity or mobility. For the first time ever, solar energy and rain will be used in the project to produce electricity, heat, hydrogen and demiwater for people in a new housing development. In other words: Solar Power to the People: bringing energy from the sun to people, wherever, whenever and in whatever form they need it.

Official presentation of the book to the mayor of Nieuwegein (Utrecht) Frans Backhuijs (left). From right to left the authors professor Ad van Wijk (TU Delft/KWR), Jos Boere (Allied Waters), and Els van der Roest (KWR).

Sustainable water supply

‘In essence,’ says Van Wijk, the same story applies to supplying water. By having nature and technology work hand in hand, we can make sufficient water available in many places all over the world.’ Solar Power to the People provides not only a thoughtful vision of our energy challenges, but also a course of action! Van Wijk believes we need to move quickly in building the link between sustainable energy sources and energy demand. In his vision, the ‘Solar Power project’ delivers:

  • Efficient storage of sustainable energy in the form of heat and hydrogen
  • Rainwater as a local source to partially meet water supply needs
  • Electrically-powered hydrogen cars, ‘fuelled by the sun and rain’

Numerous partners

The book’s production involved numerous partners, who were also present at the official presentation, and underscored the ambition of the Solar Power to the People project. The following took the floor: Mariëtte Pennarts (Province of Utrecht Executive Board Member), Peter Snoeren and Johan Gadella (Nieuwegein municipal councillors), Marja Versleijen (Director, Netherlands, Pitpoint), Lars van der Meulen (Manager Corporate Responsibility, VolkerWessels), Riksta Zwart (Chair, Water in de Circular Economy Programme), Ben de Ru (Programme Manager, Sustainability, Waternet), Gert-Jan Sikking (Senior Advisor Responsible Investment, PGGM), Jorg Gigler (Programme Director, TKI Gas) and Jan Peter van der Hoek (Chair, Programme Board, TKI Water Technology). The National Energy Commissioner Ruud Koornstra closed the event by sharpening the sustainability ambition even more: ‘From fossil to clean in 2030’.

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Surface required to meet global energy production needs through the sun.
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Surface required to meet global energy production needs through the wind.
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Hydrogen storage in salt caverns.
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Solar power – rooftop versus desert.
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Sustainable city area in the future.
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Where it’s all going to happen in Utrecht-Nieuwegein.
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Solar Power to the People in Nieuwegein-Utrecht.
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