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City overview

Building the business case through energy mapping

To create incentives for district energy projects, the City of Amsterdam is focusing on tools that facilitate the involvement of both end-users and private sector stakeholders in developing urban energy plans. According to the city, scaling up district energy is about finding the right combinations of stakeholders to create new, scalable business models, with potential clients being part of the development. The city, housing authorities or energy companies also need to encourage buy-in from residents and tenants, as these end-users are regularly involved in the decision to switch from natural gas to district heating. In Amsterdam, 70 per cent of occupants must agree to this changeover, which can represent an obstacle for the expansion of a district energy system.

The City of Amsterdam has developed an Energy Atlas to inform the local energy strategy, implement the right combination of measures and technologies, and build the business case for supplying district energy to households and companies. The city collects the data and presents it via the city website, using an “open data” philosophy that enables full access to the information collected. In a second step, the data is analysed together with the different stakeholders to identify opportunity areas or zones for district heating, cooling and power. The aim is to develop “what if” scenarios for adding or changing infrastructure such as transformers or data centres, or retrofitting the existing building stock, and to optimize urban plans for energy efficiency. Amsterdam produced its Energy Atlas in collaboration with local stakeholders, including businesses and property owners, to ensure a bottom- up process. Currently, the interactive atlas shows:

  • thermal and electricity production and consumption data in each district
  • existing and proposed sustainable energy projects
  • opportunities to connect to existing sources or networks
  • data on building stock (size, construction date, density) in areas
  • social indicators such as ownership of property, disposable incomes and consumption patterns, willingness to invest or launch initiatives, and modes of transport
  • potential for energy saving and local/renewable energy generation
  • an opportunity map for storage of heat and cooling in the city centre.

Amsterdam has used the Energy Atlas to provide a decision-support tool for planning; to generate enthusiasm for district energy (and other) projects; and to “create space” and provide matchmaking services by bringing together different stakeholders interested in business case development. Using the Energy Atlas has enabled the city to transform Zuidoost, an existing 300 hectare mixed-use area, and to establish cooperation among various industrial partners on the exchange of energy and the use of excess waste heat from data centres. The maps provided these stakeholders with insight into the thermal management in the area and allowed them to identify different functions that could contribute to heat demand. Their calculations produced a balanced business case for the use of excess heat in Zuidoost and resulted in a new area plan on the use of waste heat.

Mapping the energy flows and actively approaching potential partners would not have been possible without the use of current data visualization. Amsterdam aims to use the Energy Atlas to replicate this end-user-driven urban development model in Zuidoost in order to advance district energy opportunities in other communities.

Innovative not-for-profit business model

Demonstration project


Key lessons

. Key lessons include:

Sources and further information