Innovation in a historic scene

The city of Alkmaar is located in the heart of the world’s largest tulip fields, close to magnificent sandy beaches, and surrounded by picturesque polders and quaint villages. Alkmaar is well known for its traditional cheese market at the Waagplein and is a popular cultural destination for tourists from the Netherlands and the rest of the world. Alkmaar is also a historical city with almost 3,600 listed historical buildings and 399 registered national monuments of which most are situated along the city’s old canals. The city has many medieval buildings that are still intact, most notably the tall tower of the 500 year old Grote Sint-Laurens church and the town hall (built between 1509 and 1520) which is still used by the city’s administrators.

Besides being a historic and cultural city, Alkmaar is also an enterprising and modern city that has a strong knowledge-driven economy based on sustainability, tourism, healthcare, entrepreneurship and innovation. The city is highly consistent and committed in its sustainable energy policy and sets a very ambitious long-term goal to be free of natural gas by 2050. New technologies are being developed and tested at the Energy Innovation Park Alkmaar for the generation, storage and distribution of renewable energy. Multiple impressive projects have been completed and many projects are currently contributing to a sustainable energy system and the reduction of carbon emissions in Alkmaar. To provide an example, Alkmaar has the most sustainable heating network in the Netherlands that is linked to a Bio-Energy plant. With this experience in mind, the municipality is convinced that it is able to achieve the formulated climate objectives, even with the large number of historic buildings that are located within the city limits.

cover image by: Municipality of Alkmaar

Key figures

31.22 km²




1254 A.D.

Year of foundation


The Westrand, located in the west of Alkmaar and hosting 6,050 households, is designated as the demonstration district where the integrated solutions of POCITYF will be implemented. 55% of the properties in the Westrand is owned by the occupant, 28% is social housing,15% is private rent and 2% is unknown. Households in the area have a typical Dutch energy profile with a peak energy consumption during the morning and in the early evening. Looking at the seasonal fluctuations, the electricity and gas demand are highest in the winter and lowest in the summer.

In the upcoming years there will be important transformations in the district. Multiple houses, buildings and public space will be rebuilt, newly built and retrofitted, creating a new window of opportunity to become energy positive in the future.

Sports Complex de Meent is a large sport location in Alkmaar with an indoor and outdoor ice rink, several sports halls, gym, canteen, office spaces and sport educational facilities. The complex has solar PV on its roof and additional solar panels above the parking facilities and the bicycle shed will be installed. The latter panels will be attached to a battery that forms the heart of a smart electrical grid that optimizes the demand and supply by connecting the production of solar panels to the demand of lampposts, charging points for cars and heat pumps. De Meent will have a sustainable heating and cooling solution where waste heat of the ice machines and heat from an aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) are used as the sources for the (cascaded) heat pumps. A low temperature heat grid also allows the heat and cold from the ATES to be shared with neighboring buildings.

The Woonwaard Highrise building is a flat that consists of 130 dwellings that will be retrofitted. The roof of the building will be equipped with an innovative solar roof that maximizes the potential electricity production. In addition, vertical solar panels are integrated into the facade of the building to complement the electricity provisioning. In order to reduce the heating demand, roof insulation is applied using circular materials.

Woonwaard will also retrofit two building blocks with a total of 53 dwellings at the Dillenburgstraat as part of POCITYF. To create a sustainable heat supply for the households, a connection to a nearby heating network will be established in which indirect delivery sets allow for heat utilization without the need for heat transmission stations.

Bloemwijk is a neighborhood in Alkmaar where existing terraced houses will be demolished and new residential apartments and terraced dwellings will be built. To create energy neutral and even energy positive dwellings, triple glazing and high-quality circular insulation will be implemented to reduce the overall energy consumption, and the roofs will be covered with PV panels that are connected to multiple individual (small) batteries. Furthermore, the demonstration of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) with two bidirectional chargers allows the stored energy within the batteries of shared electric vehicles (EVs) to provide additional electricity to the dwellings.

The InVesta foundation will construct a new center of expertise that consists of a workplace, office space and a laboratory. The electricity system of the building consists of regular and building integrated PV panels, a stationary battery and a (hydrogen) fuel cell. The thermal system will consist of PV thermal panels, a thermoacoustic heat pump, and the (hydrogen) fuel cell that also generates heat next to electricity. To reduce the overall heating demand and to create a pleasant indoor climate, phase change materials (that absorbs and releases heat), triple glazing and insulation with circular materials are implemented in the building.

At a District and City level POCITYF will install close to 100 (smart) lampposts on direct current and one lamppost integrated charging pole with charging units for e-cars and e-boats. Continuing the theme of sustainable mobility, tests with Vehicle-to-Grid (bi-directional chargers) will be performed with buses at a bus depot within the Westrand and an electricity producing noise cancelling screen will be constructed along the ring road adjacent to the district. Furthermore, the municipality will implement reverse collection of waste throughout the city to increase the recycling rate. The collection of this waste will be partially performed by a hydrogen powered garbage truck. Lastly, a City Energy Management (CEMS), the WarmingUP design toolkit and a peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading platform will be demonstrated that allow for energy monitoring, -simulation, -optimalisation, -control, and -trading.

Next to these demonstration locations, three replication areas – the Boekelermeer industrial area, the Historical City Center and the Canal Zone – will replicate the at Westrand demonstrated innovative elements.


> All Solutions

Positive Energy Buildings & Districts

Positive Energy (stand-alone) Buildings

  • State-of-the-art insulation including circular materials such as flax/hemp and triple glazing with a low solar entry factor (G-value);
  • Local production of electricity with building integrated PV (BIPV) elements in roofs or facades, and local production of electricity and heat with photovoltaic thermal (PVT) panels;
  • Solar roof construction on top of an apartment building that maximizes the electricity production per square meter and thereby enables apartment buildings with limited roof space to generate more electricity;
  • Innovative thermoacoustic heat pump, operating with sound/acoustic waves instead of mechanical parts (power piston and a displacer) to force the working gas to the regenerator, as part of an integrated hybrid heating/cooling system;
  • The use of cascaded (smaller) heat pumps (instead of one larger heat pump) connected to an aquifer to create an integrated and efficient hybrid heating concept;
  • Phase change materials (PCM) in the floor or the roof, that function as thermal batteries, leading to a more stable climate. The state of matter (liquid or solid) of these materials change at certain temperatures to store and release heat;
  • Home/Building Energy Management Systems (HEMS/BEMS) for energy monitoring and control within dwellings and buildings to increase energy awareness and living conform, and to reduce energy waste.

Positive Energy Districts retrofitting

  • Integral heating system with an aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) with heat pumps. The ATES compensates for the seasonal heating and cooling fluctuations;
  • Connecting a renovated building block to a heat network (district heating connection) whose heat is originating from a biomass-fed (organic waste) energy plant.

Feeding PEDs with waste streams promoting symbiosis and circular economy

  • Circular economy building practices such as the reuse of concrete, wood and steel from demolition work for the new and rebuilt constructions to preserve natural resources;
  • Reverse collection of waste that separates waste streams at residents’ homes before collecting it to increases the recycling rate;
  • Application of a material passport that accurately documents the materials are used during construction and lifespan, so that they can be reused at the end of the building’s lifespan.

P2P energy storage and management

Flexible and sustainable electricity grid networks with innovative storage solutions

  • The use of a City Energy Management System (CEMS) that includes demand side management/smart grid in the buildings on a city level by using the Energy Flexibility Interface (EFI) that is being standardized through CENELEK;
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) is a decentralized energy trading platform where the energy buyers and the sellers trade without the intervention of a third party;
  • ReFlex is a software solution that aligns future flexible energy supply and demand, and thereby creating more flexibility to the grid and reducing grid congestion;
  • Application of a hydrogen fuel cell that serves the purpose of offering heat and power at times that no renewable power and heat is being generated by renewable energy sources (RES);
  • The installation of stationary batteries to store excess electricity of the solar panels and to provide electricity during peak demand. By doing so, the implementation of stationary batteries also has the potential to relieve the pressure on the electricity grid;
  • A Virtual Power Plant (VPP) includes energy flexibility providers – such as stand-alone batteries, batteries from electric vehicles (through V2G) and fuel cells – to store and release energy. These flexibility providers balance the grid and create so-called virtual power plants;
  • A direct current (DC) grid has fewer energy losses and requires fewer (valuable) materialsthan an alternating current (AC) grid. The DC grid will be implemented as internal grid within a building and in combination with (smart) lampposts.

Flexible and sustainable district heating/cooling with innovative heat storage solutions

  • Low temperature waste heat of ice machines that 1) serves as a source for the heat pumps, 2) balances temperature fluctuations of the aquifer and 3) will be shared with surrounding buildings through a low temperature heat grid;
  • Innovative hydraulic separation at the consumers in a collective heat network (indirect delivery sets). The sets result in less energy being lost as heat transmission stations are no longer necessary;
  • The WarmingUP design toolkit is a simulation program that optimally designs and balances complex heating systems with multiple (renewable) sources and users. consumers and producers. By doing so the toolkit, that encompasses TNO’s HeatMatcher and CHESS, supports decision makers in choosing the optimal heating system in terms of affordability, sustainability and flexibility;
  • A Heat Island concept will be demonstrated in which several building integrated heat sources (PVT, thermoacoustic heat pump and fuel cell) generate the heat for the built environment without the building being dependent on external heat sources.

E-mobility integration into smart grid

Smart V2G EVs charging

  • Smart solar charging of e-cars and e-buses through an intelligent and optimal control algorithm (supported by open ICT) that alternates the charging scheme based on the local energy supply and demand;
  • Installation of bidirectional chargers for cars and buses to provide flexibility to the grid. This Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology allows electric vehicles to store electricity during peak production and to provide electricity during peak demand;
  • Innovative lamppost integrated EV charging station with charging units for electric cars and boats.

E-mobility services for citizens and auxiliary EV technologies

  • To reduce the required number of parking space and create more space for a green neighborhood, EVs will be shared by residents at one of the demonstration sites. The shared electric vehicles will offer the V2G functionalities;
  • A hydrogen powered garbage truck will be deployed for residential waste collection within the city of Alkmaar;
  • A noise barrier alongside a ring road in Alkmaar will not only diminish noise pollution, it will also generate electricity with the integrated solar panels (PV noise barriers).

Citizen driven co-creation

  • An innovative value-based methodology that targets citizens’ willingness and ability to change. The rationale is to co-create with all involved stakeholders a network of lead users, both in the pre-pilots and in the replication and follow-up projects. These lead-users will help to strengthen the initial acceptance and support for the project, accelerating it, but also the effectuation towards the majority of citizens in the follow-up phases. Content wise, the early adopter network can vary from users (1) with a high technical and do-it-yourself technical potential helping others with smart grid ICT applications, home energy management etc.; (2) with excellent communication skills and sustainability motivation, prepared to function as practical organizers of -extra- neighborhood or street group meetings, making use of existing apps; to (3) natural, informal leaders in the user-network who mobilize the users and other stakeholders for certain issues regarding -installation, use, costs, service of the new systems, who co-determine the agenda for discussion with the management of the pilots in Alkmaar. During POCITYF, the community engagement approach of TNO (Alkmaar’s ecosystem) will be enriched with recent methods and tools from design-based value creation, which also can lead to increased citizen and other stakeholder engagement via new local services and business creation within the project.
  • A light-weight version of a city lab (InnoFest) – for younger citizens and students to be engaged and co-shape the city’s future, including their own role in the local development.

Contact the Alkmaar team

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