Energy transition and landscape / Climate adaptation and CO2 reduction / European Green Deal / Limburg / NL / May 2020
Energy is a scarce commodity and the landscape is an important source of energy. We have used it for centuries to extract both renewable energy (sailing ships and windmills) and finite fossil energy (gas, oil, peat and coal). The consequences for the landscape are significant when fossil energy is being extracted. For example, excavated peat colonies from which we owe our golden age. Excavating the largest contiguous Bourtange swamp started at the beginning of the Middle Ages and at the beginning of the 21st century there was hardly any left. Peat litter and fuel were extracted. Peat as a fuel for ovens, breweries, distilleries, cookeries and the like made industrialization possible in the golden age. The high moor has been excavated to the poor sandy surface. Recently, gas extraction in Groningen for decades has led to gas tremors. Buildings in large parts of the province need to be reinforced to ensure quality of life.
Society has become largely dependent on energy due to its consumption. If the fossil sources become exhausted, there is no longer an alternative. The “Green Deal” is there to reduce the European footprint. The deal aims to make us circular. Europe is a net importer of a lot of energy. So we are too dependent on fossil and third parties. The European landscape can only produce a limited amount of circular energy. The landscape has only a limited load capacity.
A considerable effort is required to generate sustainable energy. The costs are high. Generation therefore involves considerable investments. As a European collective, it is therefore better to first save energy before generating it. Double savings are made with saving energy. You do not have to generate energy and save at the same time. The biggest challenge is therefore to save energy first. Large energy consumers are the buildings. Heating buildings in winter is a major energy burden in Northern Europe. Heavy insulation of buildings drastically reduces energy consumption.
An important task lies ahead for Europe. Politics has set a goal: by 2030 we will emit almost half (49%) less greenhouse gases in the Netherlands than we did in 1990. The Climate Agreement is about the measures we will take in the coming years to achieve this goal. This means that the use of finite fossil energy must be significantly reduced. Fossil energy must be replaced by sustainably generated renewable energy. The most important energy source in the Dutch landscape is wind and sun. In the long term, for example, hydrogen could be added.
The landscape will therefore have an important new function, namely the large-scale generation of sustainable circular energy. The new program is, in addition to producing food, nature and space for living, working, transport, the production of energy. Food is produced where it is most economically efficient. The same philosophy is an interesting approach for energy in the landscape. Energy production will compete with the other functions, and they will partly co-exist.
An alternative to fossil energy is the electrification of society. This provides quite a few advantages. Due to electrification, there are far fewer emissions and thus pollution of noise, fine dust and harmful gases (including N and CO2). This means less nuisance and pollution in all kinds of places and therefore more possibilities.
The biomeiler in Voerendaal proves that the landscape is still a source of energy. A pilot with a biomeiler has started in Voerendaal (Limburg). This is a large basket with a diameter of 6 meters filled with wood chips from hedge trimmings of the landscape. After spraying wood chips with water, the heap starts to heat through composting. Hoses run through the heap through which water is pumped. The water is heated to subsequently heat a building. The heap gives off low temperature heat for about 1.5 years. The biomeiler in Voerendaal supplies the equivalent of 7,700 m3 of natural gas and 125 m3 of compost.
This project is part of the context of climate-smart landscape management (Wageningen University) and biomass from the landscape (POP3, Province of Limburg).
For more information about the project go to Zilverberg advies
Landscape of hedges Limburg