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Impact of overloaded electricity grid on construction and sustainability

Published on 03-07-2024 14:00
The electricity network in the Netherlands is overloaded. At the end of last year, the grid in the Amsterdam region reached maximum capacity. This has consequences for the UvA, especially regarding building plans and sustainability initiatives. What is the UvA doing and what can you do?
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Grid congestion – when the demand for electricity exceeds the supply - is a growing problem in the Netherlands. The grid operator has reached maximum capacity and is no longer issuing contracts for new connections. It is also not possible to increase capacity in existing contracts.

Impact on the UvA

Portrait of Jan Lintsen
UvA Executive Board member Jan Lintsen (Photo: Sander Nieuwenhuys)

This is a problem for the UvA because we're using more and more electricity. Jan Lintsen, Vice President of the Executive Board: ‘Part of our sustainability ambitions included making our buildings as gas-free as possible - hardly any gas is now used at Science Park or Roeterseiland. But this actually increases our electricity use. We are now investigating the impact of an overcrowded electricity network on this ambition. We may experience delays and have to adjust the planning of the energy transition roadmapExternal link.' More information about the UvA’s sustainability objectivesExternal link can be found on uva.nl. 

Limits on available electricity are also a difficult challenge to solve when it comes to new construction and renovation projects, such as the Oudemanhuispoort and BG5. It means the goals have shifted since the start of the project and choices regarding a sustainable energy supply and catering must be reconsidered.

Finally, the overloaded network has an impact on business operations. Rowan Boeters, energy transition portfolio manager: 'We can't handle everything at the same time. Certain things can be set on timers, but teachers, students and researchers are less flexible.'

What now?

Currently we don't have any acute problems, but this is a challenge that we'll have to face soon. The UvA / AUAS Facility Services energy company is in charge of tackling grid congestion and has set up a programme to look for concrete solutions together with all project leaders.

An inventory has been made of the current and future energy needs per building. A contract has been requested from grid operator Liander for the bottlenecks. The UvA is still waiting for a response for some connections; others have been honoured because they were already being processed before the congestion was announced. All other requests for increases to the contract have been rejected. We will be put on the waiting list for when capacity becomes available.

In addition, we are working on solutions for the shorter term: looking at where redistributing energy across buildings might be possible and trying to limit energy consumption as best we can, spreading it over the day.

What can you do?

The vast majority of energy consumption is building-related and is used for heating and cooling buildings. As a student, you have no influence on this. Yet 5% to 10% of the energy is used by laptops, projectors, screens, printers, etc., and 10% to 20% by lighting in the buildings. We would therefore like to ask you to use the energy in the buildings in as conscious a manner as possible and not to leave the lights on unnecessarily. Thanks in advance for your help!