The methodology of energy potential maps evolved during the research process of the Grounds for Change project (Noorman et al., 2006; Roggema et al., 2006a).4 Main aim of this project was to find a sustainable energy system for the Northern Netherlands (Frisia, Groningen and Drenthe) for the year 2035 and the spatial consequences of this.
The northern region has always played an important role in the energy provision of the Netherlands: during the 19th century large areas of peat were colonised and excavated, and after World War II the discovery of oil and natural gas made it one of the most significant contributors to the national treasury. Although originally huge in size, the gas reserves are expected to deplete within 25 years, forcing gas-related companies to concentrate on import and storage of gas from elsewhere. Nevertheless, this will only postpone depletion.
Despite its natural riches, the North is relatively weak, economically, subject to emigration of young people to the Randstad, the Dutch economic centre corner-stoned by Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and The Hague. This, together with the increasing water threat due to climate change and the problem of energy depletion, made the Northern Netherlands an interesting case for drastic measures needed for a sustainable future.
With the Grounds for Change assignment, energy had to be linked with the planning process, for which the charting of energy characteristics of the region became a practical means. The energy potential maps depicted energetic strengths or weaknesses. These were base don climatological, geophysocal and cultural-historical-technical properties of an area. The Grounds for Change project spawned potential maps for solar energy, wind, water, biomass and the underground. The superposition of these maps led to the energy mix map, which presented an overall picture of all energy potentials in every part of the region. See Fig. 6.5.
In particular the energy mix map gives a good impression of the energy richness of parts of the region. In this respect, the northeast of Groningen turned out to be the richest, offering good potential for solar energy, wind, biomass and gas from the underground. Large parts of Drenthe in contrast need to restrict them selves to biomass only.
Grounds for Change continued with the development of a new environmental plan (POP) of the Province of Groningen. During this POP energy research project (Dobbelsteen et al., 2007a) the methodology was enhanced and not anymore based on the energy source (Sun, wind, water etc.), however on the energy type (the
4 Various parties were involved in this project funded by Energy Valley, such as the Dutch provinces of Drenthe, Fryslan and Groningen, Delft University of Technology, Groningen University, Bosch Slabbers landscape architects and Stegenga Workshop for Urban Design.
provision of electricity and heat, for instance, regardless of the original source). In fact, the energy mix map of Grounds for Change was split to real potential maps.
After the regional and provincial level, the methodology was zoomed in on the meta-urban scale of Delfzijl and its environs in a master's project at the universities of Delft and Leiden (Vernay, 2007).
Ever since, the method of energy potential mapping has taken off in various projects at different scales: the municipality of Almere and districts of this city (Dobbelsteen et al., 2008a, b, c), districts andneighbourhoods of Rotterdam, and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (Dobbelsteen et al., 2008d), even linking in with the comparable approach to 'smart and bioclimatic design' (Dobbelsteen et al., 2008e), on the building level. In the mean time, many scientific papers have been published on energy potential mapping (Dobbelsteen et al., 2008f; Dobbelsteen, 2008; Dobbelsteen et al., 2007b, c; Gommans and Dobbelsteen, 2007; Dobbelsteen et al., 2006a, b).
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