The Hague, traditionally the number one location for energy businesses in the Netherlands, is also rapidly transforming itself into a hotspot for the energy transition. As ImpactCity, the municipality of The Hague is committed to developing the sustainable energy sector in line with the economic vision of The Hague +2030. In the form of a series of interviews with key players and innovators from the impact ecosystem of ImpactCity, a number of activities taking place in and around The Hague in de area of new energy, are showcased. New energy and innovation that contribute to a better world.
What do offshore wind specialist Siemens Gamesa, research institute TNO, financial services company ASN Bank, legal specialists Pels Rijcken and Bird & Bird, start-ups Solar Monkey and X-Systems think of The Hague as a working and living location and city for energy innovation? Read a new story every week for the coming period. The first interview is with Deputy Major Saskia Bruines. She discusses the economic policy of the city and shows why The Hague is so interesting for the sustainable energy sector.
Interview Deputy Mayor Saskia Bruines
“The Hague is the place-to-be for impact entrepreneurs”
“When it comes to sustainable energy, there is no Dutch city that has more to offer in terms of business activity, knowledge networks and technology development,” says Saskia Bruines, Deputy Mayor and alderman for Economic Affairs, International Affairs and Municipal Services, in an exclusive interview. Bruines explains what makes The Hague attractive for international impact entrepreneurs.
In June 2020, after years of research and debate, the municipal government of The Hague adopted a new Economic Vision which will serve as a road map for the city’s economic policy for the coming years. The Hague has around 280,000 jobs, with a strong dependence on government. The Vision aims to broaden the city’s economic base by developing three internationally attractive sectors: Legal & Policy Capital (just world), Security Delta (safe world) and Impact City (better world).
One of the key elements of ImpactCity is the sustainable energy sector. ImpactCity The Hague wants to play a leading role in the energy transition in the Netherlands. According to alderman Saskia Bruines, who leads this effort, the city has all it takes to make this happen. We asked her what the new vision means for companies active in energy that are interested in setting up a business in The Hague.
The Hague has a global reputation as the city of peace and law. What makes it also interesting for companies in the energy sector?
“It is true that more than 30,000 people work in The Hague to make the world a better and more equitable place. But The Hague is traditionally also a major centre for international energy companies and knowledge institutions. Some 7400 people work in the energy sector in The Hague.
Almost all major oil and gas companies have their Dutch head offices in The Hague and Shell its global head office. The same goes for many international engineering and consulting companies active in energy. In addition, The Hague hosts many networking organizations, such as industry associations, and major knowledge institutions such as the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), Clingendael International Energy Programme, The Hague Centre for Security Studies (HCSS), the Dutch Mining Authority (SODM) and of course Delft University of Technology and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), two of the world’s leading energy research institutes.
This cluster emerged here in part because many companies are active in the North Sea, and because the national government is located here. Energy has always been heavily affected by government policy and this is not about to change. The energy transition that we need to go through will be directed and supported by the government.”
What specifically is going on in The Hague in terms of sustainable energy and the energy transition?
“Too much to mention! To begin with, it is important to realize that the North Sea will over the next decade or so become one of the world’s largest locations for the production of offshore wind energy. Offshore wind will become the most important source of renewable energy generation in North West Europe. It is no coincidence that companies like Siemens and Orsted, two of the major international players in offshore wind, have offices in The Hague dedicated to technological innovation.
We also have designated a special Testing Area in the North Sea where sustainable energy activities can be tried out and developed. One activity taking place there is the North Sea Farm where seaweed is being grown. Another pathbreaking initiative is Oceans of Energy, a consortium of six partners which has built the world’s first offshore floating solar farm off the coast of The Hague. Other maritime startups are Elemental Water Makers and Shore Monitoring & Research.
Delft University of Technology, world famous for its solar-powered racing cars, and the Green Village on the Delft campus, are hotspots for energy innovation. Tech incubator Yes!Delft was chosen as the second best academic startup incubator in the world in 2018. Delft University now also has teams developing a hydrogen-powered racing car and a hyperloop.
Also noteworthy: in Rijswijk next to The Hague the new Centre for Sustainable Geo-energy was opened recently. This is a unique concept that enables companies and researchers to do pilots in geothermal energy, an important future source of renewable energy. In addition, The Hague is the first city in the Netherlands that is developing a geothermal source in a densely populated area.
And don’t forget that the traditional offshore oil and gas producers, as well as the engineering and services suppliers, are all busy “greening” their activities. Most of these companies operate worldwide and they are broadening their portfolios to include alternatives to oil and gas.”
What does the city itself do to attract and support companies?
“When an impact company wants to set up shop in the Hague, we roll out the red carpet. Impact entrepreneurs in the energy sector can count on support in finding office space, homes for staff, funding, marketing, recruitment and networking opportunities with other companies and institutions. For foreign companies this is partly done through The Hague Business Agency.
We also have a number of specific projects going on in energy transition that companies can participate in. For example, Campus@Sea is a framework programme in which all new initiatives around the North Sea are being coordinated. Living Lab Scheveningen is a hub for smart city infrastructure projects. We also have a knowledge hub and educational centre which connects students from vocational schools with energy companies.”
What will be the most important themes and developments in sustainable energy over the next years in The Hague in your view?
“We have investigated what sort of energy activities and innovations companies and other organisations are working on in The Hague. We see there is a lot of technological development taking place in geothermal and aqua-thermal energy, hydrogen, solar energy, offshore wind, smart grids, data analysis and energy storage.
But the energy transition also crosses over into new business models and new legal and regulatory solutions. And it throws up ethical questions, for instance around privacy and data collection. As a city with a high concentration of legal and regulatory specialists, The Hague has a lot of knowledge and innovative strength in these areas. This makes The Hague the-place-to-be for innovative impact entrepreneurs!”
Want to know more about new energy opportunities in The Hague? Get in touch with account manager energy Martin Hulsebusch.