Rotterdam, Striving to be Green, Downplays CO2 Targets

co2
Image: Modern architecture of Rotterdam’s Binnenrotte neighborhood, including the city’s new market hall. Credit: Ossip Van Duivenbode, Urbanisten.

Second of a five-part series on Rotterdam’s efforts to become a sustainable and “climate-proof” city.

Although committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, Rotterdam—the Netherlands’ second largest metropolis—no longer tries to rally the public behind its carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction goals.

“It’s a very deliberate political decision,” said Director of Urban Planning and City Development Paula Verhoeven. The city focuses instead on air quality, noise pollution, energy efficiency, and other measures of sustainability. “There is no target on CO2 emissions at the moment,” Verhoeven stated.

“When you talk to the public about CO2 emissions,” she said, “it doesn’t appeal very much . . . it’s very abstract.” Instead, the city talks about making its industries, buildings, and transport systems cleaner and more energy efficient.

“People want a clean environment,” Verhoeven said. “They want healthy air quality. They want low-energy bills. They want a green city. They want affordable houses. They want nature in their city. Those are all elements that help in fighting climate change and in making Rotterdam a more sustainable place.”

As part of the Rotterdam Climate Initiative (RCI), the city endeavored to create a low-carbon economy by focusing on the industrial, built environment, and transportation sectors.

Rotterdam’s industrial sector is particularly CO2 intensive, producing 88 percent of the city’s CO2 emissions in 2010. As a result, the city developed a plan to cut CO2 emissions 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2025. The achievement of this ambitious goal, however, was predicated on the viability of an experimental and commercially unproven technology known as carbon capture and storage (CCS). 

Despite warnings from critics of the technology, city officials allowed two new coal plants to be built in the port of Rotterdam on the theory that their emissions would be captured and reinjected into depleted oil and gas fields beneath the North Sea. However, the technology proved costly and did not operate as planned.

The city would have had to reduce its CO2 emissions by 17.5 million tons a year to meet its CO2 reduction goal. However, according to data from the Rotterdam port, the pilot CCS project was only designed to capture 1.4 million tons a year. The city, faced with the slow and uncertain roll-out of CCS technology, has abandoned its original CO2 reduction commitment.

Offshore CO2 Storage

Rotterdam, however, is still planning to lower its industrial emissions by:

  • Reducing energy consumption
  • Sharing residual heat
  • Creating more renewable energy-generating capacity
  • Co-firing biomass with fossil fuel
  • Using bio-based materials in the chemical industry, and eventually some industrial CCS

The city’s concentration of energy-intensive industry and the presence of empty oil and gas fields offshore in the North Sea is an ideal combination for a major CCS demonstration project. Thus, a consortium of 11 Rotterdam businesses is developing a regional CCS pipeline that will link energy-intensive industries producing CO2 to potential offshore CO2 storage facilities. Known as the Rotterdam Capture and Storage Demonstration Project (ROAD), it is one of the world’s largest CCS demonstration efforts.

Rotterdam 2042

Rotterdam might be said to be a city that “makes no little plans.” Its goal is to be the most sustainable port city of its kind. In addition to its CO2 storage program, air quality and noise reduction efforts, and vigorous promotion of energy efficiency in the corporate and residential sectors, the city is already boosting its renewable energy production, developing non-fossil fuel feedstocks for its chemical industry, and encouraging the trading and use of sustainable biomass.

In Rotterdam’s strategic sustainability and climate plan, Investing in Sustainable Growth, Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb and Vice Mayor for Sustainability Alexandra van Huffelen declare that, by 2042, “Rotterdam . . . will have been transformed into a system of recycling streams of water, energy, raw materials, goods and waste products: a network of information and knowledge, of synergy and vigor...”

According to the mayor and vice mayor, this vision of next-generation Rotterdam, “fits in with what many of the people of Rotterdam consider to be the most important motivation in their lives: a better future for their children and grandchildren and for future generations.”

The information and views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of RenewableEnergyWorld.com or the companies that advertise on this Web site and other publications.

RELATED ARTICLES

Largest Cherokee County wind farm now under construction

After a 23-year wind farm construction hiatus, work on a 2nd Cherokee County wind farm has begun. Developed by San Di...

Nine solar projects go live in Georgia

Duke Energy Renewables, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, announced that nine solar projects developed with SolAmerica Ene...

Can Italy strike twice?

Italy’s National Energy Strategy aims to increase wind and solar power’s share of gross final energy consumption by 2...

Lekela reaches financial close for its West Bakr Wind project

Lekela announced that it has reached financial close on its first wind project in Egypt, West Bakr Wind. Constru...

FEATURED BLOGS

pollution

What You Need to Know About Air Pollution: Its Importance and Effective Solutions

Air pollution is now one of the most pressing environmental concerns. While nine out of the ten most polluted cities ...

geothermal

Supporting the Geothermal Tax Credit

Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s leadership, New York has ramped up its role as a trend-setter in the transition to clean en...

energy

Top 5 Hybrid Energy News (Solar- and Wind-Diesel-Hybrid + Microgrids) – October 2016

The October edition of our “Top 5 Hybrid Energy News” features KarmSolar, SolarAfrica, Singita, Tesla, Sungrow, Aquio...

solar

Renewables Become Mobile: Redeployable Solar-Wind-Diesel Plus Storage Solutions For Mining Exploration

Mining or mineral exploration is the mining process of finding ores. Due to the remote locations, power generation fo...

FINANCIAL NEWS

John J. Berger, PhD. is an energy and environmental policy specialist who has produced ten books on climate, energy, and natural resource topics. He is the author of Climate Peril: The Intelligent Reader’s Guide to the Climate Crisis, and Climate Myths: The Campaign Against Climate Science, and is at work on a new book about climate solutions. Dr. Berger (www.johnjberger.com) also founded and d...

PAST MAGAZINE ISSUE

05/01/2016
Volume 19, Issue 6

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now