Zaanstad buys locally generated energy from local cooperative WeSpark

08 February 2021 - Published by Dominique Dhondt
Zaanstad is the first municipality in the Netherlands to purchase energy on a large scale from a local energy cooperative. The local energy cooperative WeSpark was launched in 2018 with the aim of supplying energy generated in the Zaan-region to local businesses and households. Zaanstad alderman for Sustainability Annette Baerveldt: "This is how the municipality is investing in the further development of a local energy cooperative. In addition, our energy bill will be reduced."

Zaanstad's recent switch to WeSpark is an important step in supporting the further development of local energy cooperatives. In a cooperative, renewable energy is generated and purchased locally, without the intervention of other parties or large energy companies. Profits are invested by the cooperative in local, sustainable projects. In time, this should lead to lower energy prices for all Zaanstad residents and businesses that join the energy cooperative. Alderman Baerveldt: "In addition to lower prices for our residents, the municipality feels it is important for the cooperative to invest in expanding local energy production capacity."

Saving on energy bills

Robert Hemmen, director of WeSpark, says that by participating in the cooperative, Zaanstad is expected to save 10% to 25% on energy costs this year. That's a significant saving for the municipality, which consumes approximately 11,000 MWh of electricity and 500,000 m3 of gas for all municipal buildings and installations. This is comparable to the energy consumption of 3,500 households. It involves more than 1,000 connections to public lighting, pumps, pumping stations and sewers, bridges and traffic installations. In addition, it concerns the energy consumption in offices, sports halls and other buildings owned by the municipality.

Solar panels on 30 municipal buildings

Zaanstad is working hard to make its own buildings more sustainable. The municipality is reducing its energy consumption by means of better insulation, insulating glazing and increasing the number of solar panels on the roofs of municipal buildings. The municipality already has solar panels on a number of buildings, such as the town hall. In 2020, Zaanstad issued a European tender for the purchase and installation of solar panels on thirty municipal buildings. This year, the installation of solar panels on the roofs of the first buildings will start. Ultimately, this investment will generate 4,000 MWh of sustainable and locally generated energy and save the municipality over 2,000 tonnes of CO2 in three years' time.

Local involvement

WeSpark is part of the European project EMPOWER 2.0, which is made possible by the Interreg North Sea Region (NSR) programme of the European Union. Led by the municipality of Zaanstad, a collaboration of 14 partners in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and the United Kingdom has been formed. The goal of EMPOWER 2.0 is to increase local involvement and local ownership in the energy transition.


 Picture from (c) Bart Homburg