Interview with alderman Saskia Bruines; the economic significance of the wind sector for The Hague and the region

The most important event within the wind energy sector will take place on 30 September in the World Forum in The Hague: the Windday. All the important stakeholders from the sustainable energy sector gather here and discuss the sustainable path towards a future-proof society. In an interview, we asked Saskia Bruines, alderman for Economy, why The Hague is a hosting city and what the city of peace and justice has to offer for the sustainable energy sector.

1. The Windday will take place in your city this year. Why did The Hague choose to become the ‘Hosting City’ of the 2021 edition?
In these times it is important to continue to meet, inform each other and debate with each other. Bringing together all relevant stakeholders in the wind industry is therefore something we are happy to facilitate. During the Windday we want to stay in touch with this sector and enter into dialogue with them in order to contribute to their sustainable solutions. Something that also fits The Hague as an ImpactCity, from which we focus on innovative solutions for a better world.

2. Can you tell us more about the energy sector in The Hague and what these companies mean for the economy of the city and the Netherlands?
We see that the sustainable energy sector in The Hague has grown considerably in recent years; start-ups are popping up, large corporates are starting green initiatives and more and more talent is moving to the city. Approximately 7400 people work in the energy sector in the region and an increasing share is involved in renewable energy. There are also about 50,000 expats in the city and more and more studies are focused on this sector. So you can say that The Hague plays an important role in the Netherlands.

A flourishing wind industry is of great importance for the success of the energy transition. The innovations generated by the wind sector are desperately needed for the future earning capacity of the Netherlands. Dutch companies can export their energy solutions to the rest of the world. The Hague is expected to play a major role in this.

3. What does the Hague region have to offer the wind sector?
The presence of the national government in The Hague has always been important for the energy sector. As a result, in recent decades an ecosystem has been developed in the city of industry associations, large energy companies, engineering firms and knowledge institutes. This arose from the presence of the oil and gas companies that are active in the North Sea and which are rapidly transforming. A second important reason why energy companies are eager to establish themselves in this region is the presence of talent. With a large number of expats and educational institutions, such as the TU Delft, the Haagse Hogeschool, the ROC Mondriaan and the Maris College, there is enough supply of the right employees.

Thirdly, The Hague is a city by the sea with a seaport. Scheveningen Seaport is very suitable for activities at nearby wind farms. Without competing with other ports, inspections can be carried out from this port, crews set out and operational and maintenance activities take place. There are also opportunities for companies that want to test their innovations at sea and in the port. This can be done, for example, via the Campus@Sea network, which stimulates sustainable innovation. Co-creation projects and events are undertaken for testing and learning on the four main themes of food, (new) energy, ecology and sport. Beautiful projects include, for example, connectivity at sea, smart measuring buoys, a seaweed farm (North Sea Farmers) and floating solar panels. In short: The Hague has a lot to offer this sector!

4. Talent is an important component for the future of the wind sector. How does the municipality of The Hague stimulate talent development?
We support entrepreneurs with innovations in the wind sector with access to a network, housing and financing. For example, we can help them apply for a European subsidy and find investors or a business or test space in the city or at sea. We offer excellent services from ‘The Hague International Centre’ for companies with foreign employees. In terms of training, there is a wide range in the region: there are various vocational schools, colleges and universities here. However, it remains a concern for me whether we can train enough technically trained personnel for the wind sector. The Municipality of The Hague is investigating with the regional educational institutions whether there is a need in the sector for additional training facilities. I hope that the answer to this question will become clear during the Windday and I would like to ask all companies in the wind sector to advise us on this and keep us sharp so that we can help them and work together for a better future!