Infra innovations meet in Zuid-Holland

Around 150 government, knowledge institutions and market parties specialists met on Thursday 8 March at the Building Campus in Delft for the quarterly CROW Infra Innovation Network meeting. During presentation and an information market, clients and market parties discussed the latest state of affairs in the field of infra innovation. The Province of Zuid-Holland was one of the organisers. Regional Minister Floor Vermeulen opened the meeting.

Floor Vermeulen: “This kind of meeting is crucial to create a good and intensive collaboration among authorities and market parties. A collaboration in which you jointly work on the future, in which authorities allow room for innovation and do not feel hindered by tendering rules, in which market parties and the authorities dare to test. And in Zuid-Holland, we are already doing that. The energy roads N211 and N470 are our flagship projects.”

Thinking in possibilities

The Province of Zuid-Holland looks for possibilities within the rules to make the mobility and infrastructure in the province CO2-neutral in an innovative way. For instance, through a competitive dialogue, road builders were involved in the wording of the assignment for the make-over of the N211 into the most sustainable road in The Netherlands. Contractors and businesses with innovative solutions were actively brought into contact with each other and local businesses participated in the road. After this weekend, the construction of one of the jewels of the broader energy transition programme will kick off.

N211: the first CO2-negative road

The Province of Zuid-Holland has used the planned major maintenance of the N211 between Poeldijk and The Hague South to improve the road in every possible aspect. To start with, the through-flow and the safety matter, but most important of all, the N211 will become the first CO2-negatively constructed and maintained road. That means that during the major maintenance programme, more CO2 will be collected than released. Vermeulen explains the success of the chosen approach: “The 13,000 tonnes CO2 reduction in the construction is three times as much as we considered possible ourselves. To be able to realise this is a direct result of the competitive dialogue, during which the market actively joined in our considerations.” In and around the road, 21 different sustainable energy generating and conserving innovations are applied. We looked for an alliance with science, and businesses with innovative solutions as well as local businesses are participating in the renewed road.

Pilots pave the way for sustainable tendering

The approach for the N211 is a first pilot for sustainabilization of roads within the provincial Energy Transition in Mobility and Infra programme. The reason for this programme is the provincial target to halve the CO2-footprint of its road management and maintenance in comparison with 2015 by 2025, en route to CO2-neutrality in 2050. An ambitious target in a densely populated province requires innovative solutions. That is why the province is actively looking for those. Vermeulen explains that innovation also means that sometimes, one might be disappointed. “But measures or process steps that have proved themselves of value, will be scaled up to other roads as well. That is how we learn as an organisation.” The N470, which connects to the A4, A13 and A12 near Delft, is being tendered in the same way right now.

Dare to innovate with businesses and co-authorities

Other energy transition projects also use innovative tendering and contracting. Innovations contribute to a cleaner, faster and safer province and can be scaled up, is Zuid-Holland's principle. The province also places great store by cooperation. Businesses are invited to contribute their innovations for use in a mobility project, while hydrogen buses are bought in cooperation with other provinces and the first noise barrier with integrated solar panels was installed along the N470 in cooperation with the municipality of Pijnacker-Nootdorp. The Subsidy Scheme Mobility is used to fund TU Delft's research into how automatic vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians react to each other.

The Province of Zuid-Holland is still looking for municipalities and road authorities who are willing to add a sustainable component to their mobility project with the aid of this scheme, to contribute to its own transition to sustainable energy as well as to the Zuid-Holland's ambition of a CO2-neutral province.