A circular economy produces as little waste as possible, and re-uses products and commodities as often as possible. The transition to a circular economy is one of the province of Zuid-Holland's priorities. The province aims to be completely energy-neutral by 2050. This can only be achieved by economic growth going hand in hand with sustainable energy provision, recycling of commodities and commitment to a clean environment.
As a result of the complex and varied nature of economic activity in Zuid-Holland, its high degree of urbanisation, spatial arrangement and geographical position, the province embraces an integrated approach to the circular economy, linking bio-economy, energy, water and food. The preconditions for a circular economy are already present in our region, especially those aspects needed for meeting key global challenges in the areas of nutrition, maritime and logistics aspects, health and safety.
In order to realise its goals, Zuid-Holland collaborates with other European top regions. The aim is to design a ‘road-map’ for a circular bio-economy including coordinated measures to stimulate industry and business activity. Other aims concern the formulation of a European bio-economy values strategy, the development of sustainability criteria and a certification system to achieve optimal matching of supply and demand for biomass.
The Vanguard Initiative is a crucial network in assisting Zuid-Holland to achieve its ambitions for a circular economy. As representative of the Randstad Region, the province is a co-driver of the Bio-Economy pilot within the Vanguard Initiative, together with the Italian region of Lombardy.
Another initiative is Biobased Delta, in which Zuid-Holland, together with the Dutch provinces of Zeeland and Noord-Brabant, strives to stimulate a bio-based economy in partnership with SMEs, multinationals and knowledge institutes, through exchange programmes with foreign regions and promotion of the circular economy in Brussels. Biobased Delta is a European bio-based top region. In cooperation with InnovationQuarter (the regional development agency for Zuid-Holland), the province aims to connect Biobased Delta to other European regions, in order to create opportunities for businesses in Zuid-Holland.
Knowledge on bio-economy is being exchanged on a European scale through the Knowledge Exchange Platform, a partnership between the European Committee of the Regions (the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives) and the European Commission’s Directorate-General Research and Innovation.
Zuid-Holland’s target is to generate 14% of the province’s total energy usage from various renewable sources by 2020, such as water, biomass and geothermal and residual heat. The province is the initiator of the Zuid-Holland Heating-Cooling partnership, in which 25 parties – governmental organisations, (energy) companies, banks and network operators – are jointly working on the utilisation of geothermal and residual heat from the port area.
The province is ideally suited for the construction of a heating system. With its large cities and prominent greenhouse sector, heat is in great demand, while it also has a large supply of residual heat and great potential for geothermal energy. An initial rough survey shows that the heat network would yield substantial reductions in nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide emissions. Zuid-Holland is thus leading the way in the Netherlands in the transition from natural gas to renewable heat and residual industrial heat (the ‘warmterotonde’ or circular heat network).
Regional heat networks already exist elsewhere in Europe, but certain aspects of the approach adopted in Zuid-Holland are unique in the EU:
It is a public-private partnership.
The ambition is to create an open network and heating market with a large number of heat suppliers and customers.
The ‘warmterotonde’ (circular heat network) will facilitate the development of innovative applications, such as ultra-deep geothermal energy, energy storage and heat cascades.
Europe offers ample opportunities for funding our energy objectives. Securing European funding is one of the central aims within the Kansen voor West (‘Opportunities for West’) initiative, which seeks to set up a revolving energy fund. Funding can also be obtained from programmes such as Horizon2020 and the European Investment Bank.
Innovative solutions between water and energy
Zuid-Holland strives to obtain European funding for innovative water and energy projects. Innovations at the intersection of delta technology and energy can contribute both to our water challenges and our renewable energy ambitions. At present, these innovations are impeded by restrictive regulations at various levels (Europe, national and regional government) and in various policy fields.
By realising pilot projects in our own country, we can create a strong starting position in growth markets. The European Innovation Partnership on Water (EIP Water) is working on case studies that contribute towards the removal of barriers in European and national regulations, the development of new forms of public-private partnerships and the development of new funding models. Zuid-Holland is focusing on various innovations, such as the Blue Energy power station in Katwijk. Through such projects, the region can utilise economic opportunities and contribute towards a sustainable water and energy supply.