Arnhem's transition to the city of sustainable energy

Due to the worldwide energy crisis, energy innovation has never been more important. We all know that there has to be a turnaround towards sustainable energy and lower emissions. But how is Arnhem contributing to a more sustainable world? Read on to get a glimpse of Arnhem’s metamorphosis into a sustainable energy city!


How Arnhem became an energy city

Arnhem is a true energy city. Molenplaats Sonsbeek is the oldest industrial estate in Arnhem and was established back in the 15th century. The water of the Sint-Jansbeek steam powers the mill, which allows for sustainable flour production. In addition to the famous mill in Park Sonsbeek, the electric trolley buses have become an indispensable part of the city’s fabric since they started service in 1949. From the early 1920s onwards, important electrical engineering companies settled in the capital of Gelderland. With the arrival of KEMA in 1927, Arnhem was able to add the biggest electrical testing lab in the world to its list of energy accomplishments. Network company TenneT was another major player that chose to put down roots in Arnhem. In 1969, the tower was built that allowed for communication between substations on the high-voltage grid.

In the years that followed Arnhem became more and more of a hotbed for the energy sector. The establishment of important actors like KEMA and TenneT in Arnhem, meant that the city was swiftly becoming an interesting business location for other energy companies, educational institutions and initiatives. Furthermore, the municipality’s focus on and support for green initiatives makes Arnhem all the more interesting for entrepreneurs in the sector. The initiative New Energy Made in Arnhem and arrival of new innovative workplaces such as Energy Business Park IPKW and Arnhems Buiten are fine examples.

A Green network
If we take a closer look at the energy sector in Arnhem, there are a lot of new players in the fields of energy supply, clean mobility (hydrogen, electrical charging infrastructure) and circular economy. Companies and initiatives in the energy sector are establishing a large green network in the city and its surrounding area. Not only Dutch companies such as TenneT and Alliander are headquartered in Arnhem: internationally acclaimed businesses such as DNV, DEKRA and Allego have also chosen the city as their centre of operations. Other Arnhem-based enterprises that specialise in innovations focusing on the energy transition are: Nedstack, MTSA, HyET, Hymove and HyGear.

Sector in the Arnhem area
Not just Arnhem, but the entire region provides the energy sector with opportunities to develop, test and scale up. Because of the region's strategic location, Germany offers an interesting market and potential technological partners for many companies. Think of international collaborations regarding hydrogen transport, energy storage in urban environments and the transition from L-Gas to H-Gas (L = low calorific gas and H = high calorific gas, i.e. gas with a lower or higher energy value respectively).

Hydrogen and smart grids ar developing rapidly
If we take a look at the future of the energy transition from where we are now, we see a shift in terms of hydrogen and smart grids. Hydrogen plays a crucial role within this transition. At the end of 2019, project H2-Drive kicked off in Arnhem. It enables people to drive a hydrogen-powered car with financial support from the municipality and the province of Gelderland. Arnhem-based hydrogen companies have also made the first electric buses running on hydrogen – as well as a public hydrogen filling station – a reality.

Moreover, ten of Gelderland’s industrial companies and educational institutions have joined forces last year. The goal of the collaboration is to build a 6-megawatt power-to-power installation at the IPKW in Arnhem. This installation will be able to provide about 2000 households with hydrogen obtained from green electricity.

In addition to hydrogen, other smart-grid innovations are rapidly being developed. Major players such as Alliander, Allego and TenneT, are building the smart grid of the future in our region. Through the use of smart-grid technology, these companies are creating an energy network with a smart measure and regulating system. This energy network will also enable its users to return their surplus electricity to the grid. The storage of energy is organised locally in batteries at home and in electric vehicles. Furthermore, heat pumps, electric boilers, solar switches for solar panels and fuel cells will also become part of the new sustainable household.

Arnhem's ambitiously green future
But it doesn’t stop there. A 10-year plan has been drawn up to prepare the Arnhem for the inevitable consequences of climate change, such as torrential rains and global warming. The city council has set the following goals:

  • 10% of Arnhem’s asphalt needs to be replaced by grass, trees and greenery;
  • To counter the effects of busy streets and shopping areas, shaded ‘cooling down zones’ with trees and ponds will be created;
  • 90% of the rainwater needs to be absorbed into the soil rather than running into the sewers.

Although the city is leading the way, alderman Cathelijne Bouwkamp says that the council is also providing grants to residents coming forward with ideas of how to collect rainwater, and to those who want to install green roofs on their houses.

Arnhem is leading the way and showing us that we can all work together to achieve a greener future!

More information about Arnhem