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Fortress Pannerden receives electricity from the electricity

In an attempt to become greener and to reduce operating costs, Fortress Pannerden will generate electricity in the adjacent Waal. Between the groynes and the buoy it will be placed, the old-fashioned - and at the same time ultra-modern - water wheel that will supply Fortress Pannerden with electricity in a year's time. An equally long period preceded the preparation.

All options for making the fortress dating from 1869 more sustainable have passed, says director Eric Creemers. Time and again the possibilities met with objections. “But we did want something. The electricity bill now costs us an arm and a leg. Moreover, we want to become the first of the 45 forts in the Dutch Water Line that is energy neutral. ""

A real think tank, financed by the Creative Industries Fund NL, first thought about wind. "Set up a large mast with two windmills on it, and you're there," says Creemers. “But that was not allowed by Rijkswaterstaat. Nothing is allowed to be built outside the dikes. "" There has been thought about floating solar panels, and about burning biomass from the surrounding nature. "But that was too labor-intensive." "Solar panels on land would affect the 'sightlines of the monument' too much, according to the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. And shape-following solar panels, available in Germany, turned out not yet to be profitable.

The final solution is actually as logical as it is smart. The Doornenburg Fortress, strategically located where the Rhine splits into the Waal and the Pannerdensch Canal, is surrounded by flowing water. The conclusion: we have to do something with that. Nevertheless, a turbine was soon ruled out. Such an underwater wheel slows down the water in front of it and speeds up the flow after it. Not something that would make Rijkswaterstaat happy, Creemers knows. "Then the sand on the bottom moves, silting up parts of the river that really shouldn't silt up."

And so it will be an 'old-fashioned' mill, because it has no influence on the water speed. A wing on a floating installation, which is attached to two posts, like a houseboat. So that the wheel can go down and rise with the water level. "The flow rate of surface water is always almost the same," says the director. "For us this is the egg of Columbus." "

"We could have gone only for the low-hanging fruit," continues Creemers. Insulate everything better, tackle draft roads, install LED lighting. We do, but we need a large amount of electricity and gas here. The fortress is a large complex, made of stone. Before you have heated all those walls, you will be quite some time and a lot more heating costs further. "" Those costs are therefore an important driver for switching to self-generated electricity. Fortress Pannerden spends 12,000 euros annually on electricity and gas. "On total operating costs of more than 200,000 euros, it saves a sip on a drink if we no longer have those heating costs."

Now the wheel has yet to be realized. As with the preparatory phase, the fortress itself has no money to actually have the watermill built. They joined forces with Wiek II, a cooperative that sets up sustainable and local energy projects. Earlier, the Nijmegen-Betuwe wind farm came from this collective. Citizens can invest and get a return on the electricity that is sold.


The one wheel in the Waal should already provide more than enough power for the fort. "So that we can also deliver to houses in the area." "If successful, more blades will be added to the water to provide even more local residents with electricity. This yields money for the cooperative, and thus ultimately for the participants.


To make the initiative even more sustainable, the wheel is made from plastic soup - plastic waste that is removed from the water. "Let us be an example," said Creemers. “From one wheel for the fort to 10 for the entire area. In a year's time the entire installation will be at the buoy and we will be off the gas. Wouldn't it be wonderful if cultural heritage could make use of green electricity? "

Published on
4 October 2018

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