NL-8 :: Energy supply

Sustainable and secure energy supply is an important condition for the prosperity in our country and it is high on the political and societal agenda.
The Netherlands provide partly in their own energy through indigenous subsurface fossil fuel production (natural gas and oil). Part of the electricity is produced in the nuclear plant in Borssele. These resources are finite and result in CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, thus increasing the concentration of greenhouse gasses which has consequences for global climate. For the last 50 years the Netherlands has been self-sufficient in the production of natural gas and also exports a considerable annual volume. This has been very beneficial for the State budget, but most fields are in decline and the expectation is that the Netherlands will be a net gas importer within 5-10 years. In addition, lack of societal acceptance for subsurface activities starts to become more and more dominant in the energy discussion. An example is the impact of tremors in the North of the Netherlands induced by extraction of gas, which causes a further reduction of annual production.
At the moment, the energy supply is in transition, and although the current share of renewable energy is with 5-6% almost the lowest in the EU, the amount of renewable energy sources increases. The aspiration is that in 2030 9- 53% of the energy resources used in the Netherlands are renewable (consisting of wind, bio and solar energy). other sources can be recycled industrial heath, hydro power and energy recovery from waste. Both the ‘Renewable Energy Directive’ and the development of a biobased economy will lead to an increased demand for biomass as a source for energy. (The consequences are further elaborated under agriculture and food.)
The subsurface can still play a role in the energy transition by supplying sustainable energy. via aquifer thermal energy systems (ATES), and geothermal energy.. These are however not the only opportunities that the subsurface offers. Subsurface storage of CO2 (CCS), or the storage of natural gas produced abroad in empty gas fields or storage of radioactive waste in salt caverns are subject of investigation. Although momentarily not a popular subject, also unconventional gas winning (shale gas) is one of the alternatives to derive natural gas. The spatial planning of activities in the deep subsurface (winning, storage) will be part of the Dutch strategy for subsurface planning “STRONG”.
The Netherlands have an intensively developed near-surface infrastructure for energy transport and has ambitions to become the “gas roundabout” of Europe. This also requires thorough spatial planning, taking into account local chemical as well as physical shallow subsurface conditions (see also mobility and transport).
In short: using the soil-sediment-water system for energy purposes asks for thorough system knowledge, in order to avoid and/or mitigate reverse effects. The energy transition has spatial impacts, both aboveground and in the subsurface, which need to be considered when making choices.

Specific research questions:
• How can a good discussion be organized on the desirability of the various existing and new energy functions in the (deep) subsurface (geothermal energy, shale gas, gas storage, etc.) and how to create public support?
• How can choices be made between different types of energy production (necessity, sustainability, costs and benefits, risk impact and acceptance)? Which assessment method is suitable and widely applicable?
• How can a positive business case be made for the use of 'new' energy functions that make use of the?
Natural capital
• What potential has the subsurface in the transition towards sustainable energy supply? What does the energy transition entail for the use and functions of and in the subsurface?
Land management
• How can decisions in spatial planning be made in relation to energy functions (production, transport and storage) in the subsurface or aboveground (interference - competition - exclusion of functions and effects of interventions and / or use horizontally and vertically and through time))?
• How can we better employ the potential of the subsurface for sustainable energy?
• What are opportunities for function combinations (eg. ATES - remediation of groundwater)?
• How can energy be stored and transported efficiently and sustainably using the subsurface and which technological knowledge is needed?
• How can negative effects / consequences (renewable, irreversible, manageable) for different types of energy production be mitigated?
• How can the roles and collaboration of the market, governments, research organisations and citizens be optimized for new energy functions in the subsurface?
Net impacts
• What impact has the energy mix on surface and subsurface in terms of land use, effects (earthquakes, soil subsidence), safety, management of groundwater resources, etc.?
• Which interactions between soil-sediment-water system and energy production exist at different spatial and temporal scales (quantity, chemical quality, physical, geotechnical, microbiological)?
• What is the impact of "new" energy functions on the soil-sediment-water system and what does this entail for the soil-sediment-water system and societal challenges?