Social acceptance of district heating: evidence from the Netherlands

A. M. Onencan*, J. Ou, J. I.J.C. de Koning

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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The Netherlands Climate Change Agreement aims to reduce CO2 emissions and seismic events by halting natural gas usage by 2050. This will require widespread societal acceptance by 90% of households. The study investigates the social acceptance of a district heating network (DHN) among social housing tenants in Haarlem, Netherlands. The findings of a survey administered to ninety-five tenants revealed a substantial level of support for the DHN project. A significant portion of respondents, 75%, expressed their approval for the DHN, surpassing the legally required threshold of 70% for implementing building retrofits. Findings imply that although the participants possess an adequate comprehension of the rationale for energy transition, their familiarity with the precise particulars and practical information pertaining to the proposed transition to DHN is inadequate. The level of trust in housing corporations, energy providers, and the municipality is uniformly low, indicating a lack of institutional trust. Generally, the interpersonal trust among tenants tends to be lower than their trust in the broader public, which in turn restricts their capacity for self-organization and exercising influence over energy institutions. Although DHNs are typically regarded as environmentally friendly and secure, there are several challenges that need to be addressed, including the uncertainty about who will cover the costs of transitioning and the doubts surrounding DHN feasibility (warmth and reliability). We suggest implementing interventions to improve tenants' comprehension of the DHN project's particulars (capability), provide practical information regarding costs and feasibility (motivation), and foster trust at both interpersonal and institutional levels (opportunity).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)815-830
Number of pages16
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2024

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