Arnhem: Electricity Capital of the Netherlands
Arnhem can look back on a proud history when it comes to the public supply of electricity; safety, reliability and affordability have always been and continue to be key objectives. Over recent years, the supply of renewable energy has become a hot topic in the Dutch 'electricity capital'.
Energy systems need to be able to respond intelligently to fluctuations in the availability of electricity from renewable sources, such as the sun, wind and water. Everything revolves around 'smart energy'. Multinationals such as energy experts DEKRA and DNV GL and grid operators TenneT (Dutch and German high-voltage grids) and Alliander work on the development of so-called 'smart grids' (intelligent energy systems) in collaboration with young professionals and start-ups on a daily basis. These companies have chosen Arnhem as a base for their activities, because of the knowledge, expertise and facilities the city has to offer.
The name KEMA is inextricably linked with Arnhem. KEMA was founded in 1927 under the name NV tot Keuring van Elektrotechnische Materialen Arnhem. The company grew into a global testing and consultancy firm that is active in the areas of energy generation, transport and end use in relation to electricity, natural gas and renewable energy. In 2011, KEMA was taken over by Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and subsequently merged with Germanischer Lloyd to become DNV GL. When relocation was needed in 2015, the company decided to remain in Arnhem, moving into premises in the Arnhems Buiten Energy Business Park.
Unique testing facilities
DNV GL has ultramodern high-voltage testing laboratories at its disposal. In recent years, it has also invested 70 million euros in the expansion of its short-circuit laboratory. From 2016, DNV GL will therefore be the only testing and consultancy firm in the world capable of testing voltages of 800,000 volts and above.
Arnhem encourages cooperation between businesses and knowledge institutions. DNV GL, TenneT, Liander and the HAN University of Applied Sciences (HAN), for example, are working together within Watt Connects, an expertise platform for energy-sector professionals. Watt Connects has access to a unique smart-grid demonstration table that simulates real-life situations in residential areas. By activating and deactivating energy flows, it is possible to make fluctuations in the energy flow between households and the central grid visible.
Start-ups and innovation
Various Arnhem-based start-ups are researching and developing new ways to generate and store electrical energy. These include Elestor (who have developed a hydrogen-bromine flow battery) and S4 Energy (who are specialising in the storage of renewable energy as kinetic energy). Mpare (a platform that offers an insight into the energy consumption of buildings), joined up with Watch-E to offer housing associations user-friendly equipment that can help tenants to reduce their energy costs. In 2015, Arnhem-based company IF Technology – the leading Dutch specialist in geothermal energy – also developed the award-winning ‘smart polder’ concept. This is a system that allows a pumping station that is used to manage water levels, to acquire an additional function: it can also be used to store electricity and to generate renewable energy by making clever use of the differences in temperature of surface water.