Bjarne van der Drift
Tutors: Daniele Cannatella, Nikos Katsikis, Remon Rooij
Key words: Energy transition, petroleum, port region, South Holland
In the past decades, the port of Rotterdam has been considered as one of the main engines of the Dutch national economy, since it is the largest hub for fossil fuels in Europe. The province of South Holland and the Port of
Rotterdam hereby form the heart of the economic centre of the Netherlands, contributing to 21% of the national GDP. However, the economic growth and prosperity of the region is inevitably linked to CO2 emissions and pollution. On the local level, the petroleumscape produces an invasive effect on the liveability of its direct environment, exposing the local population to the burdens of the financial gains of the petrochemical industries. Also, we urgently need to transition towards a more sustainable energy system due to growing risks as a result of climate change. This poses a challenge to the region, since the main driver of the current industry is based on a highly centralized energy system. Such systems are not fit to make use of locally perceived potential of renewable energy sources. In the transition towards a distributed energy system, ecologic, social and economic challenges with strong spatial components arise in the region of South Holland. Therefore, this strategy aims for an approach that gives shape and meaning to the energy transition in the province of South Holland. Our team explores the way in which decentralization of certain building blocks in the mechanisms of energy production, conversion and storage could deliver a more democratic, self-sufficient and resilient system. Simultaneously, it should empower the local economy. By rearranging and reimagining the configuration of space in the port region, new spatial layers come to existence, which are oriented towards improving social and ecological structures. Once the polluting industries transform into cleaner industries, new spaces and opportunities open up for sustainable redevelopment of the waterfront. Space for recreation, flora and fauna will bring about a more gradual transition from port to city to hinterland. The sum of all interventions will contribute to the global objective of mitigating climate change, while reintroducing spatial justice and creating meaningful connections between industrial, rural and urban landscapes in the region.