Westerkwartier towards a natural gas-free future

Project information

November 2020 – December 2021

Country: The Netherlands

Client: Municipality of  Westerkwartier


Project description 

As part of the Climate Agreement, last year, all Dutch municipalities were required to draw up a Transition Vision for heating for adoption by the municipal council. This Transition Vision sets out the route that the municipality plans to take in order to achieve a natural gas-free living environment that uses sustainable energy. In this way, the built environment will contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions. As TAUW, we had the opportunity to support more than twenty municipalities in this process in the period 2020/2021. In doing so we have sought both internal and external collaboration to create integrated transition visions with a focus on connecting opportunities for other sustainability and climate projects.

As TAUW we started this project for the Westerkwartier municipality by organising a Sprints session. During the Sprint session, participants were given relevant information about steps in the transition vision, together with all policy areas involved. Participants discussed what sustainable heating sources are available in a municipality, which linkage opportunities exist with other municipal goals and which relevant plans municipalities, housing corporations, water boards and network companies currently have in place. This work resulted in an initial roadmap, which was presented to municipal councillors and aldermen. As a follow up to the Sprints session, we at TAUW started the process of working on the Transition Vision for Heating. In this process, together with the stakeholders involved, we went through an intensive participation process with the residents of Westerkwartier (41 villages/centres). The aim was to not only inform the residents, but also to collect local knowledge and information.

Because colleagues from our climate division worked simultaneously on the Climate adaptation strategy for Westerkwartier, we sought cooperation between climate and energy transition in joint sessions and discussions to look for co-benefits by aligning schedules and thus arriving at a better implementation agenda.

The innovation in our approach is not in technology or digital innovations, but in bringing together two important themes: Energy Transition and Climate Adaptation. These two themes constitute a major challenge for municipalities in the Netherlands and have a major impact on the built environment, so it is of absolute added value to align the two approaches.

How did the cooperation with the client go? 

Within this project we worked together with the municipality of Westerkwartier, Enexis (grid manager), housing corporation Wold en Waard and the municipal colleagues of the climate division. Together with the partners mentioned above, TAUW's advisors formed the project group who supervised the process, organised the residents' stakeholder meetings as well as the final meeting, and also coordinated with aldermen and administrators.

The results

The result is a Transition Vision on Heating, unanimously adopted by the city council which lays out the follow-up steps in the short and long term. The first steps that the municipality can take are to carry out feasibility studies into the possibilities of Thermal Energy from Surface Water (TEO) and to start an insulation programme. By properly insulating  homes, a major step can already be made in making them more sustainable.

Through the intensive participation process, the residents of the municipality of Westerkwartier were informed about the plans of the municipality, but they also received information to start making their homes more sustainable themselves. In this way a first step has been taken towards a fossil-free environment where only sustainable energy and materials are used.

“All council groups were positive about the document that was there, in terms of content and process, it is well organised. Compliments were due to the board and all employees involved, including TAUW!” - Joost Smits, client municipality Westerkwartier.


Do you have a question about this project?

Please get in contact with one of our consultants