By using a natural resource (cold lake water), Nuon Energy is able to produce 60 megawatts of cooling and provide air conditioning to businesses throughout Amsterdam City's south district while reducing CO2 emissions by 70% compared to conventional cooling methods.

What is it?

A network of district cooling, which involves taking cold lake water to air condition buildings in the Zuidas district of Amsterdam.

How does it work?

  • Nuon, a Dutch utility company and one of the largest energy companies in the Netherlands, opened the first station in the Netherlands that supplies district cooling to mainly businesses in Amsterdam's Zuidas district, one of the fastest developing areas in the Amsterdam metropolitan area (South Axis).
  • Cold water (8 to 10 degrees centigrade Celsius) is pumped from Nieuwe Meer, a man-made lake southwest of Amsterdam, from a depth of 30 meters. Due to the depth, the water remains cold at the bottom of the lake.
  • The cold water is then transported to a transfer station.
  • With the additional help of a compressor-cooling machine, the cold lake water cools the water inside the transport pipeline that is used to supply water to Zuidas customers.
  • Once it arrives at the customers' building, the cold water is piped into the customer's in-house installation, which then cools the air in the buildings.
  • This system replaces conventional mechanical chillers and cooling towers that typically provide chilled water for cooling systems (air conditioning, computer room cooling etc.)
  • AMRO, KPN and Eurocenter are the first three customers; these three businesses combined will utilize one third of the system's current capacity.
  • Businesses are very keen on this cooling, as it is imperative to reduce heat emissions from computers and other pieces of equipment.
  • Customers pay prices based upon their individual situation and demands.

Initial investment

Nuon was able to build the district cooling station with the assistance of a subsidy from SenterNovem, an agency of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The sum of this subsidy was €900,000. Total initial investments add up to €25 million.

Next steps

  • Expanding the system to the North part of the Zuidas Area and the new Center Area.
  • Acquiring and connecting new customers from new and existing buildings.
  • Investment in new project in Amsterdam Zuidoost Lob (south east Amsterdam) from lake Ouderkerker.
  • Investigations into new investment projects (new business areas and new lakes).


  • City needs to have a dense business area with extensive floor space available of 500,000 square meters or more.
  • City needs to have a deep lake or can look into district cooling via other alternatives if the city does not have a lake:
  • Waste heat: cooling from waste heat vis-à-vis absorption chillers
  • City should impose client awareness and stimulate businesses so that offices choose lake cooling over conventional cooling.
  • Cooling can be used for floor space, computer room cooling and refrigerator condenser cooling.