Many companies outside our country’s five major industrial clusters are currently struggling to reduce their carbon emissions and make their operations more sustainable. Often it is not possible to make big strides because the power grid is “full. Working together in the form of an energy hub then often offers a solution: by coordinating processes and exchanging energy directly, it turns out that much more sustainability is possible with the existing infrastructure.

Consultancy and engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV estimated that at some 350 larger, energy-intensive business parks alone, an energy hub approach could lead to four to six Mton CO2 reductions by 2030, or three to four percent over our current total emissions. For example, within an energy hub, they may be able to electrify where the limited capacity of the power grid currently prevents them from doing so; they may be able to build more wind and solar energy projects on the ground; and logistics centers may be able to develop more electric charging points for their fleets.

The study also identifies what policies are needed to make energy hubs work. This requires a joint sustainability agenda for each business park that does justice to the specific situation. That agenda should also tie in with ongoing regional developments for wind and solar power deployment and plans to strengthen the power grid. Finally, companies within energy hubs will need sufficient investment security to do business. This may require national policies.

The concreteness of this was beyond the scope of the study, but then one can think of:

  • Reward companies that achieve additional CO2 reductions in an energy hub, for example, in their net rate or a tax;
  • Facilitate permitting procedures, for example, by combining them;
  • Giving companies easier access to information, for example, the structure of the power grid on their property;

Bundled support for energy hubs, rather than through a variety of different small schemes

Royal HaskoningDHV’s study is the first indication of the national impact of energy hubs, based on a number of ways energy hubs can help the transition. Earlier analyses focused on one or a few specific business parks, or on the national effect of one sub-aspect. Impact estimation required several assumptions to be made. Because these assumptions are explicitly stated in the study, we hope to help further the formation of thoughts about them.

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