The range of renewable sources and geothermal systems are all urgently needed to cut carbon emissions in time to meet the climate objectives. Sun, wind, water and soil offer ample opportunities for the generation, storage and transportation of renewable electricity, heat and cold. Make the most of these opportunities, is our Deltares message, and do that on the basis of the integrated balancing of interests for responsible choices and sustainable use. Only then can we use our precious water and soil system without overburdening it, now and in the future.

To combat global warming, we must act quickly. In order to meet the demand for sustainable energy, it is essential here to predict accurately how water, soil and the ecosystem will respond. And to set out the conditions for careful use in line with “precautionary approaches’’.

We make it possible to use sustainable energy sources and energy storage systems

Deltares is developing knowledge, and facilitating system and process innovations, for the realisation, acceleration and scaling-up of the energy transition. We are doing this by drawing on our knowledge of water, the subsurface and infrastructure. We are looking at whether systems are technically safe in practice, economically feasible and socially acceptable.

We are developing this knowledge in collaboration with our strategic partners such as heating companies, utilities, water authorities, Rijkswaterstaat, subsurface stakeholders, municipalities, provinces and other knowledge institutes.

In alliances with network organisations, we disseminate knowledge; and we learn lessons about what is going on in the field from contractors, installers and consultants. We provide access to this knowledge in forms that allow governments to make well-considered decisions for the energy transition, while also bearing in mind the different spatial scales, spatial planning and the long term.

Contractors, energy companies and engineering firms also work with our data and tools to optimise each phase, from planning and design, construction and management through to the replacement and removal of energy infrastructure. We advise about the impact on the locality, and the combination of challenges and functions in the available space. We help to extend the technical and economic lifespan of systems and infrastructure. Our ‘tools’ contribute to safe, reliable, sustainable and cost-efficient projects and solutions, both on land and at sea.

Deltares works on the energy transition from three perspectives:

  1. Sustainable heating and cooling in collective networks in the built environment
  2. Sustainable electricity in a robust and sustainable electricity system. We will integrate these two approaches to the heating transition and electrification wherever possible to avoid the passing on of responsibilities between the two systems and to ensure acceleration
  3. Impact on ecology and space, and a focus on the multifunctional use of space

Sustainable heating and cooling in collective networks

The heating transition is a necessary step on the road to more sustainable heating in both buildings and industry such as glasshouse horticulture. With applied research, we work with partners in the heating chain on the development of reliable, affordable, collective heating and cooling systems.

Aquathermal energy, ATES systems (with heat-cold storage, high-temperature storage or via closed soil loops), geothermal energy and other heat sources play an important role here. These heating and cooling systems require new types of alliances and financing. Transition pathways help to explore the road ahead and make it possible to scale up.

Sustainable electricity in a robust future-resilient electricity grid

The electricity grid is not up to standard at present. The security of supply is under threat. And a major renovation operation is around the corner. The development of a robust, future-resilient power grid involves numerous sources. Offshore wind farms, floating solar farms, hydroelectric power stations and hydrogen can all contribute to large-scale sustainable energy generation and storage. Our knowledge, experimental facilities, instruments and models target cost-efficiency, technical optimisation, predictable production and risk reduction for people and the environment.

Deltares is working on innovative solutions for offshore wind that focus on cost and risk reduction, and optimisation, for scaling up in safe and affordable ways. We study ‘proofs of concept’ for new foundation technologies (installation and decommissioning). We work on guidelines and manuals for erosion, insights and knowledge about the failure modes and mechanisms of offshore transmission cables. Other focus areas include floating solar energy (offshore and on inland waterways), multifunctional use and offshore demonstration projects.

Impact on ecology and space, focus on the multifunctional use of space

Space is often limited, particularly in densely populated urban settings. And there may be consequences for the fragile ecosystem and biodiversity. For example as a result of extracting heat from water, increasing cold, the blockage of light by solar panels or earthmoving operations.

Combining functions in a given area is essential to shape the energy transition in densely populated deltas. Deltares studies the effects of energy solutions on water, soil and the ecosystem. Take floating solar energy, the extraction of heat with aquathermal energy, offshore wind farms, and the technical and economic combination of, for example, offshore farms and wind farms, or reservoirs with floating solar panels.

The challenge is to seek synergy where possible between measures for the energy transition, climate adaptation, biodiversity and living in urban environments. And to combine these factors with the minimisation of impact on the water, soil and the ecosystem. Together, they will define the contours of the Netherlands of the future.

When constructing collective heating systems, it is a natural step to implement climate adaptation measures at the same time and improve the quality of the living environment. This knowledge is needed for the assessment and granting of permits for the large-scale application of sustainable energy solutions. And to optimise energy systems and make them more flexible and robust.

To arrive at the most accurate predictions at the least possible cost and minimise the risks for people and the ecosystem, we use up-to-date computer models and our applied research facilities. A number of the latter are unique in the world, not only because of the state of the art instruments but also because of their scale. With the research conducted by our specialist, motivated researchers, we contribute to a carbon-neutral electricity system and built environment, affordable and clean energy, and energy from water. In the Netherlands, in the North Sea, and increasingly in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

We urgently need a range of sustainable energy sources. Solar and wind energy are contributing to electricity supplies, and water and soil afford opportunities for the production, storage and transportation of heat and cold. Make responsible choices.

Jan-Joost Schouten

These programmes stand out:

  1. WarmingUP: innovation programme in which the entire heat chain has collaborated on knowledge products and publications for collective sustainable heating systems. Read more about the results (Deltares programme director Gerda Lenselink).
  2. NieuweWarmteNu! (NewHeatNow!): accelerating sustainable heating systems by funding the uneconomic top level and eliminating other obstacles. Read more about the twelve flywheel projects and six innovations. This allows us to acquire relevant experience, and work together to make the energy transition more economical and smarter. Deltares is leading a number of innovations. We will, for example, be developing the WarmingUP Design Toolkit further and we are coordinating the learning and development programme (coordinator: Saskia Hommes).
  3. GROW: joint offshore wind research programme for initiating research and accelerating innovations. The twenty GROW partners are working together to reduce the cost of offshore wind and increase the value of wind energy in the energy system and ecosystem. (Deltares contact person: Jan-Joost Schouten) See all Deltares GROW projects.

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