van Bergen Kolpa Architecten

GAS-NL

Client: Academy of Architecture Rotterdam
Project: Research into the future of energy resources in the Netherlands
Planning: researchstudio 2003
External expert: Ton Matton (Mattonoffice)
Lecturers: Peter Aubert (Ministry of Economic affairs), Ewald Breunesse (Shell, the Netherlands), Henk Visser (Essent energy suppliers), Hugo Gordijn (Netherlands Institute for spatial planning), Andre Faaij (University of Utrecht), Jan Schouw (CEA)

The Dutch economy floats on it's natural gas reserve drawn from the area Slochteren. Half of the national top ten export products such as flowers, chickens and tomatoes are kept warm by natural gas energy. Recent estimates however predict exhaustion of the gas reserves within 25 years.

Meanwhile the Government try to reduce energy consumption with energy regulations, insulation subsidies and by promoting the use of green sustainable energy resources. Awareness of the shrinking energy reserves and the effects of fossil fuels on the climate and environment play a key role. Still, within the wider European community, brown coal and nuclear power remain the main energy supplies.

During the past millennia the Netherlands has developed using different forms of energy sources. Wind energy was the key resource in water pumping when reclaiming the land. The use of peat for energy started large scale peat extraction. Oil and gasoline fuelled the mobility of the Netherlands and meant a large network of pipes, refineries and storage centres became necessary. With the introduction of natural gas extraction the Dutch switched from an agrarian to a service industry society. This new affluent society led to increasing energy consumption and specific building types.

As Dutch natural gas resources and other fossil fuels will soon be exhausted what are the possible scenario's for the future? Do we switch back to our old national resources or do tap new sources such as geo-thermal energy, solar power, wind energy and bio-energy? How does this affect our building types and landscapes? Will the Dutch river-delta be the new water power plant of the future? With the last whiff of natural gas do the Netherlands have to be replanned again?