Garden clippings fuel a Dutch neighbourhood

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

Thousands of homes in a new neighbourhood in Eindhoven are getting heating and electricity from an unexpected source: garden clippings. The Meerhoven Bioenergy plant is one of the biggest of its kind. The plant can be compared to a modern wood-burning stove (heating) which is linked to a generator (electricity). 

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Win-win situation
The result is a win-win situation: Meerhoven no longer needs to spend a lot of money on transporting the biodegradable waste from gardens, parks and forests. The neighbourhood hardly needs any more expensive fossil fuels, and the CO2 emissions from the wood-burning plant are automatically compensated by the growth of new trees.

Polluting
But does Eindhoven have enough garden clippings for such a big plant? "Not exactly," admits the sustainability counsellor Joost Helms. "We have to import a small percentage from neighbouring communities. On the other hand, in the past we had to transport our garden clippings to Denmark. Imagine how much pollution that caused!"