New start-ups in sustainable energy at incubator IDEA in Alkmaar

“The combination of housing and guidance through IDEA is a great help”.

Incubator IDEA has moved to Building C of INHOLLAND in Alkmaar. Out of a total of nine start-ups that have joined IDEA, four have settled directly with IDEA in the Bergerweg building. The new office facilities offer sustainable energy start-ups an ideal setting, in which they can develop innovative ideas and concepts into successful products and companies.

One of the new start-ups is Sustenso. Sustenso’s goal is to develop sustainable solutions for the agricultural sector. The start-up has developed a process in which digestate is processed into fully-fledged fertilisers and CO2 is removed from the biogas. Entrepreneur Hans van der Wijde explains, “This is how we create a circular economy; more revenue and less, or rather no, waste. Better for the environment, good for the farmer!” Van der Wijde is pleased with IDEA’s support: “IDEA’s facilities help us get a running start. The combination of housing and guidance through IDEA is a great help”.

Start-up 3D cat has also established itself at IDEA. 3D-cat uses ECN technology to produce catalysts for the chemical industry through additive manufacturing. This is a production technique in which a digital file is converted into a physical product. Gabriel the Scheemaker from 3D-cat explains, “IDEA enables us to focus on the development of our business case and its financing. The available expertise and guidance aimed at sustainable energy applications helps us enormously in the start-up phase of our company.”

Both companies are affiliated with InVesta and play an important role in the development of renewable gas, and also in Alkmaar’s living lab.

From idea to growth

The IDEA incubator from Alkmaar guides start-ups and helps entrepreneurs to bring innovative ideasin the field of sustainable energy to the market. In practice, this means coaching, making use of an extensive network (for example in the field of financiers, suppliers and customers) and support in business development. IDEA supports entrepreneurs in North Holland with its partners – Development company NHN, ENGIE, the municipality of Alkmaar, ECN, New Energy Coalition, INHOLLAND and Teamwork Technology. For more information, please visit

The region of Alkmaar has the most sustainable heating network in the Netherlands

The Alkmaar Regional heating network, which is located in the municipalities of Alkmaar, Heiloo, Langedijk and Heerhugowaard, has been connected to HVC’s bio-energy plant since the beginning of January. As a result, the heat supplied to all connected houses and buildings is 100% green. In December 2017, that is why the industry declared the heating network to be the most sustainable in the Netherlands. This is an exceptional acknowledgement and something of which the HVC and the four municipalities are extremely proud. Today, the connection to the bio-energy plant was confirmed at a meeting in the Alkmaar Van der Meij College.

The Alkmaar Regional heating network, which is located in the municipalities of Alkmaar, Heiloo, Langedijk and Heerhugowaard, has been connected to HVC’s bio-energy plant since the beginning of January. As a result, the heat supplied to all connected houses and buildings is 100% green. In December 2017, that is why the industry declared the heating network to be the most sustainable in the Netherlands. This is an exceptional acknowledgement and something of which the HVC and the four municipalities are extremely proud. Today, the connection to the bio-energy plant was confirmed at a meeting in the Alkmaar Van der Meij College. The bio-energy plant produces renewable energy and heat by burning waste wood and dried sludge.

Director of Sustainable Energy HVC Arjan ten Elshof: “Currently, there are some 6,000 connections to the 30-kilometre long heating network and in the coming years this number will be expanded to more than 15,000. The effect of this is considerable: connecting one house to the heating grid reduces CO2 emissions as much as 22 solar panels on a roof each year. Alderman Jan Nagengast (Alkmaar) is also pleased with the developments: “The heating network is continuing to expand outward, also to the municipalities of Langedijk and Heerhugowaard. More and more houses and large buildings in Alkmaar such as the AZ stadium, the Hoornse Vaart swimming pool and the new Victorie concert venue are benefiting from the most sustainable heating network in the Netherlands.

Alkmaar’s regional heating network from HVC fits into the government’s plan to create a natural gas-free Netherlands.

This method of using heat is a big step in the transition the Netherlands is undertaking to phase out the use of natural gas. The government has decided that our energy supply must be fully sustainable by 2050. That is an enormous task. Part of this task is a natural gas-free Netherlands; more than 7 million households have to move away from natural gas. As a fossil fuel, natural gas contributes to climate change. For a climate-neutral Netherlands, we will have to switch to new ways of heating, showering and cooking. Municipalities will have an important role to play, supervising this transition to a working society without natural gas. The Alderman for Sustainability for Heerhugowaard, Monique Stam-de Nijs says, “Heerhugowaard wants the heating grid to supply the Alton area as well as Zuidwijk and part of Huygenhoek with heat so that the Heerhugowaard glasshouse agricultural businesses can make their energy requirements more sustainable in one fell swoop.”


Technicians are desperately needed for the energy transition

Today, Alkmaar’s regional heating network is officially connected to the bio-energy plant of HVC. This took place during a meeting at the Alkmaar Van der Meij College. A fitting location, as it trains young people to become the technicians needed to achieve the energy transition. Ten Elshof explains, “The number of jobs in the technical sector is growing ten times faster than in other professions. Over the next three years, an estimated 80,000 jobs are to going be created. To make young people enthusiastic about the profession, this year we are going to provide regional guest lectures at technical and secondary schools about how the heating network operates and the energy transition. Diederik Samsom (HVC strategic adviser) kicked things off at the beginning of January with a lecture for students at the Van der Meij College, where we were a guest today.


Collaborating on a regional approach

During the meeting, municipalities, housing corporations, HVC and other stakeholders discussed how to decouple houses and buildings from the fossil fuel of natural gas in the Alkmaar region and connect them to sustainable, green energy sources for heating and hot water. During the meeting, the Alkmaar housing corporations Van Alckmaer voorWonen, Kennemer Wonen, Woonwaard and Woningstichting Langedijk called on municipalities, network managers and other stakeholders to work together on a regional plan to achieve this.  Director Pierre Sponselee of Woonwaard: “As housing corporations, we opt for all-electric or sustainable heat. For new buildings, but also increasingly applied to existing homes. By working together with regional partners, we are jointly implementing the Paris Agreement. We are letting go of gas!”


HVC also distanced itself from natural gas

In order to make its own business operations more sustainable, HVC is also looking for improvements to reduce the amount of natural gas used. Many concrete steps have already been taken in recent years: by further reducing the use of natural gas in the waste-to-energy plants and by heating the offices using their own heat instead of gas. HVC has also recently researched the possibilities of drastically reducing the consumption of natural gas. This can be done by using the heat that is released during waste incineration. The investment programme for this purpose is now being worked out. In doing so, HVC is in line with Minister Eric Wiebes of Economic Affairs and Climate, who last Monday called on large companies to accelerate the phasing out of natural gas from Groningen.

Astronergy/Chint Solar invests in a 15 MW solar park in Noord-Holland Noord

Astronergy/Chint Solar and VOF Andijk Zuid have signed an agreement on [date] for the sale of 11.6 hectares of land on Business Park Andijk Zuid in Medemblik. Astronergy/Chint Solar recently received an SDE + subsidy from RVO for the development of a solar park with a capacity of 15.2 megawatts. In 2017, the municipality of Medemblik approved the construction of a solar park on the existing business park Andijk Zuid. The construction is planned to start in June 2018.

In the past year, the Development Agency NHN has assisted Astronergy/Chint Solar in finding a suitable location and connecting them with the regional stakeholders, the developer VOF Andijk, the municipality of Medemblik and the province of Noord-Holland. Bernardo Silvestre, Head of Business Development Europe at Astronergy/Chint Solar: “Astronergy/Chint Solar is one of the world’s largest solar IPP with more than 3 GW in the balance sheet and is actively investing in downstream solar project development in The Netherlands and Europe. NHN was of great assistance in location search and in involving the regional stakeholders which allowed enabling and speeding up the land acquisition process”.

Regional energy ambition
“Noord-Holland Noord is proactively looking for new energy solutions. The development of solar energy is in line with the energy ambitions of the region. The region already is accelerating in the production wind, solar, biomass energy. Furthermore the production of geothermal and hydrogen is developing substantial”. Bjorn Borgers, senior project manager at Development Agency NHN: “This large-scale investment in solar energy production contributes to the excellent investment climate of the region. Entrepreneurs increasingly attach importance to the presence of sustainable energy in their choice of location.”

Andijk Zuid
Andijk Zuid is a 14-hectare business park in the municipality Medemblik. Alderman Hans Tigges of the municipality of Medemblik is also pleased with this development: “As a municipality we are firmly on the energy transition and sustainable energy for our residents and companies that invest here. This sunbathing meadow definitely contributes to this. ” Cees Brinkman on behalf of VOF Andijk: “The development of this solar park on Andijk Zuid is a good alternative for the business park and will strengthen the regional business climate.”

New joint venture MOJI to fast track Dutch gasification technology commercialisation

ECN and partner Dahlman Renewable Technology (DRT) have launched a new joint venture to fast track the commercialisation of their gasification technology. MOJI technology efficiently converts a wide range of sustainable feedstocks to electricity, green gas, chemicals and even sustainable fuels. This is an exciting next step in enabling the transition to a sustainable energy system worldwide.

MOJI (Milena Olga Joint Innovation B.V.) is a new joint venture formed around the gasification technology MILENA and the tar removal process OLGA, both developed by ECN in cooperation with DRT. ECN and DRT will each own 50 percent of the new joint venture. The technology development has accelerated over the last few years, with ECN delivering scientific knowledge, and DRT delivering engineering and project management expertise.

Wil Poort, general manager at DRT says: “The technology is now ready for full scale implementation and there is much interest both here in the Netherlands and around the world. I am very happy that by launching MOJI, we can now combine our efforts with ECN. Furthermore, we are delighted to have our launching customer Synova on board as well.” With ECN and DRT’s Dutch roots, MOJI is a truly Dutch technology ready to be introduced worldwide.

Best efficiency
ECN and DRT have an established history of collaboration on gasification technology. Synova has a strong pipeline of gasification projects where MILENA and OLGA will be incorporated, the first of which is due to be announced later this year.

Giffen Ott, CEO at Synova explains their interest: “Before backing this technology, we were technology agnostic and scrutinized and compared representatives of all of the competing technologies for waste-to-energy. We determined that MILENA and OLGA were best-in-class as MILENA-OLGA offer the best efficiency, delivering 1.5 to two times more saleable output than most of the existing incinerators. MILENA-OLGA thoroughly remove contaminants before the gas is used, so rather than simply combusting gasified waste we have a pure product gas which can be used in a gas turbine or alternative use. This makes MILENA-OLGA the first truly clean waste-to-energy solution capable of fitting within the existing economics of the developing world, where waste is most in need of a sanitary solution.  The announced joint venture creates a unified vision and management for the commercial roll-out of the technology.”

Green energy and chemicals
Gasification is a process for converting a wide range of organic and carbonaceous materials into a combustible gas, called producer gas, instead of burning it in an incinerator. ECN’s proprietary MILENA technology is a so-called indirect gasification process in which the heat generation and the actual gasification process take place in separate reactors. The tar which is produced during the MILENA process is removed with ECN’s OLGA cleaning system that strips the tars from the gas and cleans the gas of dust and aerosols. These tars, which represent a high energy value, are collected and recycled back to the gasifier where their energy value is fully recovered.  This unique design philosophy to maximise the efficiency of the process also means that its environmental impact is significantly lower than incinerators.

The feedstock used for the gasification process can be very diverse, ranging from the organic fraction of industrial and urban waste such as plastic to agricultural residues. “It is important to note that MILENA and OLGA not only enable green electricity but also the production of green chemicals,” says ECN’s Martin Scheepers. “We are building a pilot plant in Alkmaar for the production of green SNG (substitute natural gas) and ECN will continue to work on new developments for green chemicals production within its R&D programme.”

More information & contact
For more information on this subject you can contact ECN via our contact form.

Boekelermeer Business Area celebrates ‘Dutch Business Area Award 2015’

– dutch only – Dinsdag 9 februari hebben de gemeenten Alkmaar en Heiloo gevierd dat Bedrijventerrein
Boekelermeer is uitgeroepen tot Beste Bedrijventerrein van Nederland tijdens het jaarlijkse
Nationaal Bedrijventerrein Congres. Samen met de Commissaris van de Koning J.W. Remkes,
de burgemeesters en wethouders van Alkmaar en Heiloo, de ondernemers en alle direct
betrokkenen werd er stil gestaan bij deze bijzondere prijs.

Permitting quick-scan developed for your renewable projects

Together with the municipality of Alkmaar, the permitting experts from the EIP have developed a quick scan to determine the permitting needs for your project. At the EIP, there is more possible without a lengthy procedure than you might think. Also, the special safety zones available are attractive for industry with high demands. Get in touch to get more information about the possibilities.