Mapping the contextual conditions of resilient decentralized energy systems

What are the local conditions, in the context of a transition towards sustainable energies, for a synergy between gas and electricity systems?

Bert Scholtens (Photo: EDGaR/Jan Buwalda)


Energy systems have to account for local conditions. Indeed several renewable energy projects are being initiated at the local level. Henceforth, the transition from a fossil fuels heat and power system towards a more sustainable one will have to make do with the local conditions of supply and demand. This will impact the organization and use of gas and electricity grids. Hence, this research investigates the role of natural gas and biogas, in its combination with the electricity system, in the transition towards sustainable energy systems.

At the local level, there is an increasing number of stand alone energy projects based on renewable, excessive heat and, especially, biomass. It is precisely there where systems innovation takes place, where the conventional and alternative systems meet, and where the demand and supply for gas and electricity comes together in various forms. We want to identify the conditions under which synergies between both systems emerge. Moreover, we want to identify phenomena resulting from this integration process, such as the rise of the prosumer, that is, the consumer becoming a producer of energy.

In particular, we look into the drivers, success factors, and the risks and bottlenecks of the integration of decentralized networks with the conventional grids. Out of this integration, a new energy landscape will arise. This is the combination of energy systems which meet and interact, through which functions that produce and consume energy are spatially connected to exchange energy. We will investigate these energy landscapes, in particular in the northern part of the Netherlands.

The research takes into account the interrelations between spatial, economic, technical and psychological conditions of the new energy landscape. It focuses on conditions which relate to local energy systems evolving from the robust traditional electricity and gas networks and to the rise of local and regional energy systems. Given the complexity of the object study, it uses a pluriform, multi-level and integrated analytical perspective.

Theme: Future energy systems
Leader: Bert Scholtens (University of Groningen)
Partners: University of Groningen, Gasunie (performed by DNV GL), Hanze University Groningen
Budget: 1.5 million euro
Duration: September 2011 / December 2014


Jessica de Boer (University of Groningen)
Bernhard Boonstra (University of Groningen)
Luuk Buit (DNV GL)
Patrick Cnubben (Energy Valley Foundation)
Michel Dubbelboer (DNV GL)
Lukas Grond (DNV GL)
Wim Mallon (DNV GL)
Gert de Roo (University of Groningen)
Tjerk Sandberg (DNV GL)
Bert Scholtens (University of Groningen)
Tineke van der Schoor (Hanze University of Applied Sciences)
Wim Timmerman (Hanze University of Applied Sciences)
Linda Steg (University of Groningen)
Gert-Jan Veldink (Hanze University of Applied Sciences)
Christian Zuidema (University of Groningen)

Book chapter

De Boer, J., C. Zuidema. “Stimulating co-evolutionary behaviour of renewable energy systems: the integrated energy landscape as vehicle for the energy transition.” In Spatial Planning in a Complex Unpredictable World of Change: Towards a Proactive Co-evolutionary Planning, edited by L.G. Boelens, G. de Roo. Farnham: Ashgate, forthcoming. 


Mulder, Machiel, Bert Scholtens. “De invloed van wind en zon op stroomprijzen.” Economisch Statistische Berichten, 98 (2013): 4664–4665, 452–455.

Mulder, Machiel, Bert Scholtens. “The impact of renewable energy on electricity prices in the Netherlands.” Renewable Energy, 57 (2013): 94–100.

Scholtens, Bert, Robert Wagenaar. “Revisions of international firms' energy reserves and the reaction of the stock market.” Energy 36 (2011): 3541–46.

Sklavos, K., Dam, L., Scholtens, Bert. “The liquidity of energy stocks.” Energy Economics 38 (2013), 168–175.


Bijl, B. “Gebiedsgerichte condities voor het ontwerpen van een windfonds: case Windpark N33.” MSc. thesis., University of Groningen, 2013.

Dijkgraaf, G. J. “The balancing problem: analysing supply-demand mismatch in a renewable energy-based northern Netherlands.” MSc. thesis, University of Groningen, 2013.

Flonk, G. J. “Energie, ruimte en 3D visualisaties als verbindend element: een toetsingskader op basis van complexiteit.” MSc. thesis, University of Groningen, 2013.

Haastert, R. van. “Een zonnige kijk op duurzame energie.” MSc. thesis, University of Groningen, 2012.

Kovacs, A. “Towards sustainability with renewable energy economy: Social innovation of grassroots initiatives.” MSc. thesis, University of Groningen, 2013.

Plaatsman, M.G.A. “Localisation vs. Globalisation; The energy transition and the ostensible paradox between complexity-based planning and global risk.” MSc. thesis, University of Groningen, 2014.

Sulman, N. “Lokale duurzame energie-initiatieven: eigenheid, initiatief en samenwerken.” MSc. thesis, University of Groningen, 2014.

Conference paper

Boer, Jessica de, Tineke van der Schoor, Bert Scholtens. “Innovation for and by decentralized energy production.” Sixth Research Day of the Energy Delta Gas Research, Nunspeet, April 2014.

Boer, Jessica de, Christian Zuidema. "Towards an integrated energy landscape." AESOP-ACSP Joint Congress, Dublin, July 2013. Won the best paper prize for young academics! 

Boer, Jessica de, Christian Zuidema, Gert de Roo. “Towards a resilient energy landscape.” Young Academics Workshop on Resilience, Vienna, March 2013.

Poel, C. van der, Hansen, N., Linda Steg. “The effect of knowledge and environmental self-identity on energy use.” 10th Biennial Conference on Environmental Psychology, Magdeburg, September 2013.

Schoor, C. van der. “Local energy initiatives.” Sustainable Building Conference 2013, Oulu, May 2013.

Scholtens, Bert. “Mapping the contextual conditions of resilient decentralized energy systems.” Fifth Research Day of the Energy Delta Gas Research, Nunspeet, April 2013.

Other publications

Scholtens, Bert, Christian Zuidema, eds. Lokaal energie maken: op weg naar een decentraal energiesysteem. Groningen: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, 2014.

Scholtens, Bert. ‘De economie van het gas.’ Economisch Statistische Berichten 98, 4655 (2013): 141–142. 

In the media

Nogepa. ‘Draagvlak voor energie vernieuwing.’ Aargas Update (September 2012). Groningen: JFB Multimedia Communicatie. Featuring Linda Steg and Eefje Cuppen.

Nogepa. ‘Draagvlak? De ‘do’s.’ Aargas Update (September 2012). Groningen: JFB Multimedia Communicatie. Featuring Eefje Cuppen and Linda Steg.

Nogepa. ‘Draagvlak? De ‘don’ts’.’ Aargas Update (September 2012). Groningen: JFB Multimedia Communicatie. Featuring Aad Correljé, Eefje Cuppen and Linda Steg.

Linda Steg featured in Dagblad van het Noorden en Leeuwarder Courant.

Bert Scholtens featured in Leeuwarder Courant, NRC, Volkskrant, Trouw, NCRV Altijd Wat, BNR Nieuwsradio.