‘Municipalities must embrace energy demand’ The magazine about public transport

In order to steer the energy transition in the right direction, municipalities and grid operators must take on a stronger role. That is the opinion of Marc Rosier, the brand new public transport manager in Rotterdam The Hague Metropolitan Area (MRDH). Time for a double talk with Rogier Pennings from Stevin, who concludes that no one yet feels ownership of the energy issue around energy hubs.

Rosier will take over as public transport manager at a good time, he says, because there are a number of tasks ahead: In the capital region, there will be another 400,000 inhabitants in 2040. It is a city the size of Utrecht. “This means that we have to build 200,000 homes: a quarter of the national construction task. The total number of homes will then increase to more than DKK 3 million.

Rogier Pennings, energy hub expert at Stevin: ‘We need people who can see that there is a gap. If everyone points at each other, no one will run ‘

The capital region must therefore think carefully about how everyone can continue to travel from A to B, he continues. “It is clear that public transport plays a central role in this. Faster and more frequent public transport can promote this population growth in a sustainable way. In addition, we are strengthening the economic business climate in the capital region with better commuter traffic, ”says Marc Rosier from the partnership between 23 municipalities in South Holland.

The head of public transport also sees that the pressure on the electricity grid is increasing, now that more and more modalities are being electrified, and all the newly built homes also need energy. “This means that we must look for solutions, for example by producing our own solar and wind energy. There are also huge opportunities there. The track managers in this region (RET, EBS and HTM, eds.) Have a huge network in the city with important ground positions: the stations. You have to use it wisely. ”

Collects opportunities

“These land positions are ideal places to start energy hubs,” says energy hub expert Rogier Pennings of Stevin. “Of course a hub is such a buzzword, but it’s mobility hubs where energy demand also comes together. So I see opportunities to link in this, we can overlay those concepts and find the social benefit. It allows you to manage finances, spatial use and the pressure on the energy grid more efficiently, for example by connecting grid connections or entire networks. “

Pennings should know that, because in Rotterdam, on behalf of Stevin, he was involved with HTA-Rail in a Kralingse Zoom project, where electricity from the RET metro network is used to charge parked e-cars. “The infrastructure is already there anyway, so the energy hub is very relevant for exploiting the opportunities. Outside the urban area, certain charging stations could be connected, this is called cable pooling. Technically, it is already possible, but it will not save the world. The current legislation is still in the way. ”

Who takes ownership?

According to Pennings, many ‘practical’ conditions are still lacking to be able to roll out energy hubs, but it starts with creating administrative support. Rosier recognizes the social opportunities that Pennings identifies. “We should not become too dependent on the ordinary energy network, but should explore alternatives. Connection can certainly be a part of it. ”

He goes on to say that HTM and RET take on their social role in this, but also see that no one really feels ownership of the energy issue and takes on the management function. “It used to be seen with the pursuit of ‘sustainability’. It took a while before it was properly checked. The municipalities have now assumed their responsibility in this connection. ” Pennings nods in agreement: “If everyone points at each other, no one will run.”

Marc Rosier, public transport manager in the Metropolitan Region of Rotterdam The Hague: “The network operators have a good picture of the problems surrounding the energy issue, but it does not really reach the municipalities yet”

Rosier believes that the challenge is to stimulate the debate between relevant actors and thus create broader support. “Energy suppliers are still holding back, while grid operators see the problems on the way. They have an interest in facilitating the network, but are still bound by applicable laws and regulations. As MRDH, we work on behalf of our 23 municipalities, and we play a binding role. Our main task is to ensure accessibility. The ball on the energy issue lies with network operators and municipalities. ”

Higher on the municipal agenda

Rosier continues that the network operators have a good picture of the problems surrounding the energy issue, but that it has not yet really gotten to grips with the municipalities. As a former councilor in Zoetermeer municipality, he should know that. “In new building plans, for example, green, blue, noise standards and more have been taken into account, but energy is not included.” Pennings acknowledges that: “In fact, there is a need for an energy program with requirements. Then every municipality does not have to reinvent the wheel, because energy plans are divisible.”

Marc Rosier to Rogier Pennings: ‘Maybe you should put local councilors and councilors in an e-bus to draw attention to this problem’

The municipalities must become more aware of the need, says the public transport manager. At MRDH, we encourage e-buses to run, but an e-bus can only run for ten years if the energy supply is available. And that is only possible if we approach the issue differently. In addition, they want to prevent the new building from being completed soon, but without electricity. ” To Pennings: “Perhaps in the run-up to the election (this interview took place on February 1, ed.) Municipal councilors and councilors should be put in an e-bus to draw attention to this problem.”

Focus more on opportunities

Energy hub expert Pennings sees that MRDH is making the connection between the various municipalities and the urban infrastructure managers RET and HTM, but believes that there are still steps to be taken. “We are not talking about the total energy transition, but first and foremost about the public transport part. The capital region could play a role in this by investing the responsibility somewhere. The problem owner does not have to be a municipality or organization, it can also be a person who sees that there is a gap. ”

Rosier points out that MRDH is not about housing or physical development, but primarily about accessibility issues and the economic business climate in the region. “The energy conversion theme is being taken up by several municipalities. And because MRDH is a network organization of 23 municipalities, we certainly feel involved in the energy transition. ”

This article was previously published in OV-Magazine 1/2022. Would you like to receive OV-Magazine on paper or digitally from now on? Then sign up for a subscription.

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