Gas free plan part of city’s plan to cut CO2 emissions

Amsterdam: gas free by 2050. Image by 2xSamara.com.

Soon to be Gas Free: By 2050, Amsterdam will be a gas-free zone, with district heating networks forming part of the city’s carbon free vision. Image by 2xSamara.com (via Shutterstock).

The city of Amsterdam have come up with a more radical way of cutting CO2 emissions. Instead of fracking operations and building a multi-billion pound nuclear power station, the Dutch capital have decided to go gas free. By 2050, the Dutch capital’s heating installations could be all-electric. With immediate effect, all new housing developments will be constructed without a gas pipeline.

By 2020, some 102,000 households will be connected to district heating networks. Conversion work of existing properties will commence in 2017. 10,000 municipally owned dwellings will be the first structures to go gas free. Between now and 2050, the city of Amsterdam will explore alternative – environmentally friendly – energy sources.

Gas free energy sources and district heating networks

In some suburbs of Amsterdam city centre, 70,000 homes are warmed with water heated from a central incinerator. On the new artificial islands on the Ijmeer Lake, heat pumps are a planned energy source.

Key to the success of a gas free Amsterdam is a plethora of district heating networks. There has been district heating networks in differing shape and form since the 14th century. In the Netherlands, only 3% of homes were connected to a district heating network (according to 2000 figures). This at the time, better than the 2% for the United Kingdom, though way behind the 95% penetration for Iceland (which benefits from geothermal springs).

District heating reduces carbon emissions, by means of combined heat and power plants. They are best used in areas of great population density. Since their completion in 1961, the deck-access flats at Park Hill Estate, in Sheffield, have had a district heating network operated by Veolia UK. It is part of a wider network that serves part of the city centre.

Great potential

We shall be watching events in Amsterdam with great interest. Should Greater Manchester have a district heating network? Feel free to comment.

ST Heating, 22 November 2016.

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