An Energy-Agri-Cluster as an alternative to the Zuiderzee rail link

The Energy-Agri-Cluster plan was developed by CE Delft in just a few weeks as a robust, non-transport alternative to the proposed Zuider-zee rail link between Amsterdam and the North of the Netherlands. It is a multi-element programme drawn up as a coherent strategy for improving the North’s economic structure, at the same time giving an impulse to creating a more sustainable national energy supply. This dovetails perfectly with the government’s plans for an Energy Transition, the Energy Valley already operational in the region and the specific features of this area – in particular the major scope for underground CO2 sequestration, the capacity of the Eems Port, and the ‘Agri-cluster’ programme and knowledge infrastructure already in place. The Energy-Agri-Cluster, designed to augment existing government plans, also aims to make the regional economy less sensi-tive to natural gas prices.

The plan comprises the following core elements: a biomass / coal gasification unit with CO2 storage, a CO2 transport grid, a 2nd-generation ethanol plant, a biorefinery facility, a Blue Energy plant (extracting energy from the freshwater-saltwater interface), a virtual micro-CHP plant and a ‘knowledge network’. The plan, which would require a one-off government subsidy of € 550 million and an additional € 2 billion from private investors, would lead to a CO2 emission reduction of between 5 and 11 Mt annually and create at least 2000 jobs in the long term.

The Energy-Agri-Cluster has been given a positive assessment by economic consultants Ecorys as well as by a team of experts for the Energy Transition and the Strategic Environmental Assessment committee of the Zuiderzee rail link project.