Members of the GreenSCIES project team took part in an Anglo-Dutch workshop on local heat and energy transitions in London on 26 September 2022. Chaired by the University of Sussex, the workshop looked at how national level governance frameworks translated to local experiences. Five UK local authorities shared ideas with three from the Netherlands, including ones from the cities of Tilburg and Amsterdam. A common theme was the need to think big, but (initially at least) start small – focusing on creating affordable solutions with a clear benefit for local residents.
The GreenSCIES approach to citizen engagement was strongly endorsed by colleagues from Tilburg and Enfield, who noted that a customer focus was central to their entire project.
Dutch colleagues also explained the idea of “Natural Gas-Free Neighbourhoods”. They have a greater reliance on imported gas than the UK, and expansion of their onshore gas fields has been limited by earthquakes in the Northern provinces around Groningen. Coupled to the recent massive hikes in gas prices – which are common across Europe, not just in the UK – this has led to a desire to phase out natural gas, starting with a number of pilot neighbourhoods where district heating schemes can be upgraded easily.