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16/03/22

Three ladies and a gentleman in conversation about the IJmond region, the energy transition and the industry


Join forces and plug in.


The ladies


Dorothy Winters –Offshore wind programme manager
AYOP – the network association in offshore energy

Ingrid Post –Energy transition programme director
North Sea Canal regional project bureau

Manon Raats – Stakeholder manager for IJmond region
TenneT - also AYOP-member

The gentleman


Serge Ferraro –Economic Affairs Alderman
Municipality of Beverwijk - also AYOP-member



De Groene Stekker (green plug) project: clean wind energy from the sea brought to shore in Heemskerk, running via the municipalities of Beverwijk and Velsen to end up in the TenneT high voltage plant along the A9 motorway. Essential in the framework of the energy transition and increased sustainability of the industry, it is also a key factor for ensuring a better quality of life in this part of the country.


‘Our stories should strengthen each other’

 

But a lot has yet to happen before this becomes reality, including the installation of a cable infrastructure and construction of wind turbines and charging stations. Generating sufficient support for the project is another crucial task for both industry and government. What are the priorities? To answer this question, Dorothy Winters, offshore wind programme manager at AYOP, sat down with three direct stakeholders to exchange thoughts and ideas. “Okay, question number one, here we go….”

“What should industry and government do? What needs to happen to make De Groene Stekker a success?”

Serge Ferraro: “Let me start by saying that this is an exciting trajectory which is by no means easy. However, if we manage to realise the energy transition in accordance with current plans, a wealth of opportunities will be created for the industry and for employment in the North Sea Canal region and the Netherlands as a whole. I believe we should focus on knowledge, obviously, as well as qualified staff that can help bring all these new technological developments to fruition. We need many more people and that’s one of the greatest challenges we face.” 

Ingrid Post: “Indeed, the IJmond region is vital to the entire Dutch economy, but it’s at least as important to the economic development and employment in the region. It is crucial that the energy transition succeeds here, that the quality of the lived environment improves and that fine particles and CO2 are reduced. This goes both ways: by giving more space to clean energy sources such as hydrogen, we can improve air quality and develop new value chains such as green steel and sustainable fuels like synthetic kerosine. The industry already has the knowledge in-house and can play a major role in the development and realisation thereof. But it can’t do so alone: the support of the government and other stakeholders is at least as important.”

Manon Raats: “We will have to actively involve people and companies in our sphere of work from the early stages of the project by inviting them to participate. It’s important that we don’t just focus on the costs but also the benefits. Our main goal ultimately is to future-proof the electricity grid in North Holland, and at the same time show which opportunities this would offer to the environment. It is up to us all as implementing bodies for the government to engage people.

“Take the impact of the energy transition on the labour market and education, for example. By making clear what a social transition to a more sustainable future means and what the effects would be, we can ensure there will be plenty of skilled hands and minds available for the coming decades. We’re already seeing a huge demand for knowledge, skills and capacity in the technical sector. Of course, we must also discuss the – often temporary – disadvantages, such as hindrance to the local environment during the essential activities. But as initiators we should also jointly emphasise the promising prospects.”

‘I don’t need to see coloured clouds above Beverwijk. Just green ones. Figuratively speaking, of course…’

 

“We have to closely involve these people and companies in the plans as well as in the intended profits.”

Serge: “Closely and quickly. To generate support, we really have to accelerate how we involve all stakeholders – including local residents – in our story and make clear the benefits both for the economy and the quality of life in our region. Things do have to change, and fast. I don’t need to see coloured clouds above Beverwijk. Just green ones. Figuratively speaking, of course.”  

Manon: “Together, we are transitioning to new types of energy such as hydrogen. We have to try to bring across these steps and the related technologies to the people, giving them an insight into their usefulness and necessity at the earliest possible moment. We should show them all the things that happen so they can plug into a power socket at home.

“There are also great opportunities for the market to invest in people’s engagement with ‘their products’. A good example is the Eneco Luchterduinen Fonds, a fund associated with the eponymous wind farm that’s been in use off the coast of Noordwijk and Katwijk since 2015. Throughout the 20-year lifespan of the wind farm, 90,000 euros is available every two years for initiatives proposed by Bloemendaal, Katwijk, Noordwijk and Zandvoort. By supporting projects and initiatives in the field of energy savings, the fund contributes to the increased sustainability of the coast and enhances the coastal experience.”

Ingrid: “That is our joint responsibility. The transition has a major impact on the environment, and we have to involve everyone in each step.”

Serge: “This also means we have to show companies, especially the large national and international players, the specific interests of our region. Point out the fact that this works both ways – for them and for local residents – and may sometimes require different choices.”

“So how can you successfully engage industry and people alike?

Manon: “Turning this into a shared story and assignment will entail strengthening each other’s stories and keeping a close eye on the opportunities that arise. We will need to know each other’s priorities and communicate openly about them, not by pointing out opportunities like a school teacher but by creating a background that offers prospects for action within the social debate. We should enable people and companies to see for themselves where the opportunities lie and allow them to use this information on their own initiative.”

Ingrid: “We are working towards that in the North Sea Canal region’s energy strategy cluster in which the industry indicates how and when they would like to make the shift from coal and gas to hydrogen and electricity, and which energy infrastructure will be required. This approach also makes clear which projects will be realised when and where in the region. As government bodies our role is to make important spatial decisions and ensure they are realised in practice, in part together with the industry.”

‘Attract companies and organise knowledge sessions. This is what we do, and it works.’

 

“So, the focus is on the regional industry?”

Serge: “As the alderman for economic affairs I want to ensure the regional industry gets maximum benefits from the energy transition. Naturally, I’d prefer seeing as much work as possible go to the region, but that’s not always possible when specific outside expertise is required. And, unfortunately, the procurement regulations don’t allow for it either.”

Manon: “Big contracts and European procurement are a factor indeed but that doesn’t mean a lack of opportunities for the local industry. Maybe not always as the main contractor, but in the role of subcontractor. Moreover, issues such as transport, facility services, leasing, office space and catering also provide interesting opportunities for the local and regional economy.”

Ingrid: “One aspect that should not be underestimated in this regard – and in all future projects – is that the municipalities have a great deal of capacity and know-how. They play a crucial role in granting permits and informing residents, for example. We try to facilitate these local authorities based upon the industry’s knowledge and experience.”

Manon: “Yes, that is certainly a challenge. But it’s not like we have to reinvent the wheel. We should look at how other major procurement parties such as Rijkswaterstaat {executive agency of Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management} and ProRail have successfully realised major projects in the past. I’m sure there’s lots of inspiration available from projects such as the new Amsterdam North/South metro line and the widening of the Schiphol-Amsterdam-Almere motorway. How did politicians, industry and the local area make these projects a success? We should facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience and try to use that advantage broadly in order to engage as many people as possible.”

“What would AYOP do to make this trajectory successful”

Ingrid: “We should seek out experienced government organisations and companies, organise knowledge sessions and exchange experiences and best practices. That’s what we do, and it works. I think AYOP can play a connecting role in this regard. The association has the contacts and the know-how in its network. The members of AYOP can help us make significant progress.”

 

Sufficient know-how within government authorities is crucial.

 

Manon: “AYOP could very well be the driving force behind connecting the thinkers and the doers. After all, value is created where those two worlds come together and different cultures are invited to interact. Create suitable forms that offer a secure and trustworthy environment which allows the processes to flow.

“A good local example is the sand mining that we did to facilitate the build of the largest sandcastle in the Netherlands on the beach at Heemskerk. For the installation of electricity cables that run from our sockets out to sea we had to drill underneath the dunes four times from the temporarily raised worksite. When we indicated in a meeting with the locals that we needed at least 50,000 cubic metres of sand to raise the worksite we received a practical tip from one of the beach club owners. The location of the pier in IJmuiden creates a current by Wijk aan Zee, near Zuiderbad, which causes sand to pile up throughout the year – in contrast to the other North Holland coasts where sand is constantly eroded away. The authorities would not normally grant permission as the beach and dunes are part of the primary water barrier. Nevertheless, we did not immediately put this local hands-on solution aside and asked the clever minds of Deltares to study this option carefully. Based on joint efforts, Rijkswaterstaat and the Hollands Noorderkwartier district waterboard gave permission to extract the sand locally and transport it along the beach. This allowed us to prevent some 2,500 dump trucks from driving through the centre of Wijk aan Zee. The idea offered major benefits for all parties and TenneT would not have thought of this solution in isolation.”

Serge: “Speaking of concrete efforts reminds me of the subsidies from Europe. Most companies are aware of them, but not always sufficiently so. AYOP can definitely help them in this process with information and advice. As Manon said, entrepreneurs are usually doers. They would benefit hugely from AYOP giving them practical support in this area.”

Ingrid: “Mediation, resolving dilemmas and connecting; these are things AYOP can facilitate and which are sure to have significant results.”

Manon: “And in my experience, this can lead to good ideas. Remember the Amsterdam Light Festival, which was developed during the many years it took to realise the North/South metro line. This was an idea proposed by businesses to attract more people to the city during the construction activities. It has since developed into an independent annual event that draws people to Amsterdam from across the country and beyond. We could really use a similar idea here, with wind and green energy as the main theme.”

This was the fifth in a series of conversations about the latest developments in the sector. If there’s a subject close to your heart that you’d like to discuss with us, please contact Sylvia Boer: [email protected].