First gas free homes project in Purmerend runs into trouble


A flagship project to make hundreds of homes gas free has floundered, putting the timeline towards energy transition agreed in the Dutch climate accord in doubt, the NRC reports.

The Dutch government has pledged to ensure all homes in the country are gas free in 2050, aiming for 2,000 in the first two years and building up to 1.5 million homes by 2030.

The Purmerend area of Overwhere-Zuid was chosen as the first of 27 testing grounds for the conversion process. The project involved disconnecting some 1,276 buildings from the gas grid and connecting them to a district heating system over a two year period.

But now sustainability chief Paul van Meekren has said that goal will not be achieved by 2022 and the project has been stopped until further notice.

Private homes

Purmerend was given €6.9m for the project and some 90 homes, all privately owned, were made gas free during the first phase. The second phase, which includes rent-controlled homes, has run into ’a raft of problems’, project leader Jasper Verplanke told the paper.

‘We have hit a brick wall,’ Verplanke said, citing mounting costs. Replacing sewage pipes is also proving a problem because all the work is being done at different speeds, Verplanke said. Tenants are also unhappy about the change.

The project includes 11 rent-controlled homes, which had been renovated in 2018 to make them more energy efficient using gas. ‘My energy bill went from €100 to €40 euros a month,’ tenant Adrie van Kooten told the paper. ‘We were very happy and definitely didn’t want to change to district heating which is more expensive than gas.’

Home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren has said sorting out the project is a matter for the local council.  A spokesman said the present delays are ‘moments on the learning curve’. Purmerend local council will discuss the matter in November.

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