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 from the rest of the world. Alkmaar is also a historical city, with almost 3,600 listed and 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.

However, Alkmaar is also an enterprising, 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 sustainable energy. Besides, a few impressive projects have been completed and there are still many projects that contribute to sustainable energy production and the reduction of carbon emissions. Alkmaar, for example, 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, also with the large amount of historic buildings that are located within the city limits.

cover image by: Gemeente Alkmaar

Key figures

31.22 km²




1254 A.D.

Year of foundation


The demonstration district for Alkmaar will be the Westrand, which is located in the west of Alkmaar. The district hosts 6,050 households – 55% of the properties are owned by the occupant, 28% is social housing and 15% is private rent; 2% is unknown. Households in Westrand have a typical Dutch energy profile with a peak during the morning and a high peak in the early evening. In summer both electricity and natural gas demand is lower; in winter both are higher.

In the upcoming years there will be important transformations both in retrofitting houses and buildings and in the public space, making this district an opportunity to become energy positive in the future.

Sports Complex de Meent, the Alkmaar sports location will have solar PV on roofs and above parking facilities, an integrated heating solution with an ATES, a buffer and ICT. Nearby public lighting will have V2G charging facilities powered by the solar panels of participating buildings.

Bloemwijk will be a combination of low-rise residential apartments and terraced houses. They will all be fitted with high quality innovative circular insulation, regular and integrated panels on roofs, and some with electrical batteries. There will be an integral heating system with booster and acoustic heatpumps, buffers and PV thermal solar panels.

GasFreeWorks a commercial showroom of Duurzaam Bouwloket will not only be a state-of-the-art NZEB but also a showroom where inhabitants of Alkmaar and others can experience how to build/renovate a house to NZEB: several insulation solutions and technical installations will be demonstrated and explained by DBL employees. There will also be energy storage and a working V2G charging station for cars and boats.

The Woonwaard Highrise building, which consists of 130 dwellings, will be equipped with a so-called Powernest: an innovative system with which combined wind and solar energy can be generated. In addition, vertical solar panels are integrated into the facade of the building. In order to reduce heat demand roof insulation is applied using circular raw materials.


> All Solutions

Positive Energy Buildings & Districts

Positive Energy (stand-alone) Buildings

  • State-of-the-art insulation including circular materials such as flax/hemp, re-used concrete and materials with very high insulation properties and triple glazing with a low solar entry factor (G-value). In the window frames a special seam and crack seal will be used to minimize the infiltration of cold air with 80% in comparison with the standard values;
  • Local production of electricity with (collective) solar roofs and integrated PV elements in roofs;
  • Innovative thermo acoustic heat pumps, both as booster and as part of an  integrated hybrid heating/cooling system;
  • Electrical storage in dwellings with Li-ion batteries;
  • The use of cascades of smaller heat pumps, combined with PV-thermal panels and aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES, a ground sourced heat pump) to create an integrated high-efficient hybrid heating concept;
  • Vacuum composite facade panels with insulation, bio-composite façade with solar cells (combining insulation and electricity production), a small number of which will be equipped with detection sensors; 
  • PCM in the floor, which function as thermal batteries, leading to a more stable climate. The PCM climate floor absorbs heat from 23 degrees and stores it. At a temperature lower than 23 degrees, the heat is released again;
  • Home/Building Energy Management Systems – Monitoring and control within buildings to increase awareness, reduce waste and increase comfort. Through a self-learning system, the building is continuously becoming smarter. Estimated reduction on heating costs is 10 – 15%

P2P energy storage and management

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

  • The use of a City Energy Management System (CEMS) which includes demand side management/smart grid in the pilot area buildings by using the Energy Flexibility Interface (EFI). EFI is being standardized through CENELEK in order to ensure long term stability and gain a larger support base and Powermatcher Technology;
  • The installation of stationary Lithium Ion batteries to store electricity;
  • A Virtual Power Plant which includes batteries from electric vehicles (V2G) and fuel cells. The hydrogen needed for the fuel cells is produced by local wind energy;
  • Direct Current (DC) grid which has lower grid losses compared to AC for the facilitation of production and distribution of solar electricity;
  • The production of hydrogen from wind energy in Boekelermeer industrial area.

E-mobility integration into smart grid

E-mobility services for citizens and auxiliary EV technologies

  • Smart solar charging supported by open ICT for interconnection, performance monitoring and new information services for aggregators, grid operators, municipality and citizens;
  • Smart control of energy grids using the Virtual Power Plant (VPP) that results from the aggregated vehicle batteries of shared cars and cars parked at smart charging stations;
  • Smart control and charging of mass transit vehicles (e-buses) utilizing optimal charging algorithms and taking into account optimal time on the road;
  • Use of public lamp posts fed by a Direct Current (DC) grid as EV charging points.

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

Karin Verbeek

Tim Faassen

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