Atlantic demo site

Province of Zeeland and Rijnmond, NL

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Map of Zeeland and Rotterdam in the Netherlands


Current climate trends will exacerbate flooding risks - from rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather - and will cause summer heat stress and increase droughts.


As the name Zeeland (‘sea land’) suggests, a large part of this province in the Netherlands is water. At around sea level, Zeeland has been subject to major flooding events throughout its history. The Rijnmond area around the port of Rotterdam in neighbouring South Holland province experiences similar issues. It also accounts for 15% of the country’s energy consumption, in large part by Europe’s largest petrochemical industry cluster.

Climate related issues

Flood risk

By 2050, regional sea level will rise 15-40 cm. There will also be more severe storms and intense rainfall.

High temperatures & heat stress

As global temperatures rise, extreme weather events will occur more often, with extended periods of high temperatures.

Energy and industrial decarbonisation

To be climate-neutral by 2050, energy use must be minimised and fossil fuels should be replaced by renewable sources.

Key actions

We are creating digital decision support tools for climate change mitigation and adaptation:

  • supporting municipal spatial planning to adapt and create sustainable cities and communities with regards to:
    • flood risk
    • heat stress
  • helping industries in the Port of Rotterdam to define mitigation strategies for decarbonisation and reduction of non-renewable energy use.

Co-creation of these solutions is at the heart of our approach; key stakeholders are included in designing and validating the tools.

Relevant sectors:



Spatial planning

Chemical industry


Our ambitions

“Climate-related threats are growing in this Atlantic region. To deal with these threats and secure a safe environment, now is the time to accelerate climate adaptation measures in the Netherlands. 

In our Atlantic demonstration site, we set ambitious goals for our IMPETUS work and solutions. These focus on alignment with national, regional and local programmes to enhance adaptation measures. These solutions are digital tools, that support decision makers in creating an adaptive and future-proof environment. We include local stakeholders in the design and creation of our tools in order to optimise their impact. We aim to use the tools in Rotterdam port and across Zeeland province. Our ultimate goal is that these solutions will be adopted by other areas as well. 

Interested in what we are doing, why it is needed, and what we want to achieve? Feel free to reach out to us!” 

Martine Rottink, Nelen & Schuurmans 


Region-specific solutions

Flood risk decision support tool

Climate risk is a relatively new consideration in the work of spatial planners and municipalities. IMPETUS is designing a digital decision support system that will provide insights into spatially varying flood risks and the expected effectiveness of different measures that could be taken. This tool will advance integrated flood risk management by combining compelling visuals and rich geospatial data with the predictive power of flood risk modelling. In the Atlantic region, the application of a flood risk model will better enable the investigation of solutions for climate-driven flooding.

Our approach:

  • Build a flood risk model in 3Di for the demonstration site region;
  • Visualisation and gamification elements will give clear insight into flood risks and threats;
  • Translate flood risk simulations into practical, ready-to-use and easy-to-understand information for decision makers in the field of spatial planning and development.
This IMPETUS decision support system will help municipalities with decision making, spatial planning and designing safe environments.

Heat risk decision support tool

Longer and more frequent heat waves affect our infrastructure, health, and the liveability of our environment. The heat stress tool developed within the IMPETUS project will provide insights into current and future heat stress occurrences. This tool can be used to obtain insight into heat stress ‘hotspots’, see the effect of different climate change scenarios on expected heat stress, and analyse the impact of different spatial planning measures and developments. The tool also allows users to set their heat stress ambitions and quantify the challenge that needs to be overcome in order to realise these ambitions.

Our approach:

  • The tool builds on recent advances by implementing the Physiological Equivalent Temperature (PET), using methodology developed by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).
  • Applying this methodology in combination with N&S’s ‘Lizard Geoblocks’ module allows for very fast, on-the-fly calculations of the PET heat stress map.
  • Visualisation and gamification elements will make the tool more engaging and easier to use.
  • The tool supports the exploration of how different spatial developments affect heat stress, such as planting trees, constructing new buildings, or changing surface types.
This heat stress decision support system is helpful for decision makers in spatial planning, when designing new regions and adapting existing cities.

Decision support tool for industrial decarbonisation

Photo of a petrochemical plant
(© Free to use under the Unsplash License)
European policies on mitigation and adaptation to future climate change impacts and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 have set us on a road to decarbonise industrial processes as much as possible. Identifying decarbonisation pathways is crucial in supporting an effective energy transition for EU industry. IMPETUS will support these developments with a tool to aid decision makers in making well-informed choices about decarbonisation strategies in the Rotterdam port’s petrochemical industry cluster.

Our approach:

  • The tool will map waste heat sources, recovered heat symbiosis and energy usage patterns, supporting waste heat integration.
  • The tool will include options to add layers of different utility provisions, their requirements, and usage patterns of different industrial segments.
  • This will enable industrial symbiosis and potentially support the development of a circular economy.
  • A participatory approach will be used to gather the required data, by identifying the current consumption of energy and raw materials (including water), as well as emissions generated by companies in the cluster.
  • The Community of Practice developed within the WATER-MINING project is expected to be instrumental for the engagement of local stakeholders, to provide access to required data and in the development of the support tool.
This IMPETUS decision support tool will help decision makers to take well-informed decisions on decarbonisation strategies.

Flood risk

By 2050, sea-level within this region is predicted to rise by 15-40 cm, with more frequent extreme weather and more (severe) storms triggered by climate change. These changes will exacerbate the natural risk of flooding in the IMPETUS ‘Atlantic’ region, because it is surrounded by rivers and the sea, and is below sea level.

*Risk takes into account two aspects; the chance that an event will occur and the negative impact of such an event once it occurs. When there is a low chance that an event will occur, but its impacts are huge, the risk is still significant.

“In the Netherlands, an extensive system of dikes protects us against sea and river flooding. We have always put our faith in this defence and focused almost solely on flood prevention. However, pressure on our system will increase with climate change and rising sea levels. To adapt and maintain a safe living environment, we should develop other safety measures, like more robust spatial planning and contingency plans."


Rotterdam city, is located in Rijnmond – ‘mouth of the Rhine’. The Rhine river flows through this densely populated area and characterises the region. Protections such as sea dikes and storm surge barriers have been constructed to protect the region, but flooding still occurs.

People living in the city are accustomed to seeing smaller floods. The changing climate affects the interplay between rainfall, river levels and sea storms, increasing the flooding risk. Water levels could rise by a few metres, even in populated areas, with potentially massive impacts. 

Mitigation measures such as storm surge barriers reduce the chance that high water reaches the city, but to minimise the impact of floods when they do occur, adaptation strategies are also needed. A city that can adapt to be safe from floods must be carefully designed. How best to design such an adaptive city?

Critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and evacuation routes, must be accessible at all times. Planning how to best protect them, homes and lives is complex. Flood water behaves in a complex way and flood risks show strong spatial variations. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is developing a digital tool to support regional decision making for adaptive city planning. 


High temperatures

Record-breaking summertime temperatures have been recorded in the Netherlands in recent years. With global temperatures rising, such extreme weather events will occur more often, and for longer periods. Prolonged high temperatures, with warm nights as well as hot days, can cause heat stress* and related health issues, particularly among city populations.

*Heat stress occurs when the human body cannot get rid of excess heat and can impact wellbeing through conditions such as heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps and rashes.

"We want to enable municipality decision makers who are working on spatial developments to identify heat stress 'hot spots' and cool areas, analyse the future effects of climate change, and model the effect of different heat stress-reducing measures. The tool must provide them with an easy starting point to integrate heat stress risks in their projects."


Despite the cooling effect of the sea in the region of Zeeland, the growing risk of heat stress has become a concern.

Elderly and other vulnerable people are more impacted by the effects of prolonged heat, which can cause headaches, dizziness, insomnia and other health issues – even death. Excess temperatures also affect general comfort and liveability of cities. Water quality can be reduced, both for drinking and swimming, and infrastructure can be affected. Buildings and concrete surfaces trap heat, potentially leading to damage, and release it during the night, keeping temperatures warm.

During heat waves, it is important that everyone has access to a cool and comfortable place. Appropriate spatial planning can help to decrease and deal with heat stress. Environmental factors like water bodies, trees, and shade have a major impact on stress caused by high temperatures. Therefore, planting trees, removing concrete surfaces, creating green roofs and cool spaces can improve our comfort and health. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is developing a digital tool to support regional decision making for city planning to address these needs.


Energy and waste water

To become climate-neutral by 2050, climate mitigation* efforts are crucial in our strategy for how to deal with climate change. Reducing our energy consumption is a significant mitigation step. In the Netherlands, 15% of energy is consumed in the Rijnmond area around the port of Rotterdam, in large part by a major petrochemical industry cluster.

*Climate mitigation encompasses measures such as technologies, processes, or practices that reduce carbon emissions or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.


The Rotterdam port petrochemical industry cluster is Europe’s largest. It consumes 70% of the Rijnmond region’s energy. A large part of this energy is wasted (64%, 203 petajoules). More than half of that energy is lost with wastewater. In addition, most energy processes within these industries rely on fossil fuels, which has a significant impact on the climate.

Energy use must be minimised and fossil fuels should be replaced by renewable sources if climate change is to be mitigated. Electrification of processes opens up the possibility to use more renewable energy and can greatly impact decarbonisation. Recovering wasted heat would significantly reduce energy consumption and is a first step towards a more circular industry. 

Supporting industries in a transition towards climate-neutrality depends on identifying how best to reduce their carbon footprint without sacrificing production or performance. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is creating a digital tool that supports decision making about pathways towards an effective energy transition for EU industry.