On Thursday 28 September, His Majesty the King officially opened the first fast-charging plaza for electric-powered heavy equipment and lorries in Geldermalsen. The visit was part of a working visit to cooperative Betuwewind; one of the initiators of the charging plaza.
The King started the day with a visit to Betuwewind where he visited the Lingehout food forest and learned about two projects from the Sustainability Fund. The King was very interested in what a citizens’ cooperative can achieve and impressed by all Betuwewind’s activities: the wind farms, the food forest and the involvement of members and volunteers.
After completing this working visit, he proceeded to fast charging plaza WattHub where he performed the official opening. In 2023, Betuwewind, together with construction consortium Mekante Diek, consisting of Dura Vermeer, Ploegam and Van Oord, took the initiative to develop the first semi-public fast-charging plaza for means of transport and pieces of equipment: WattHub.
The reason for developing WattHub was the emission-free dyke reinforcement project at Tiel-Waardenburg, which requires a lot of additional charging facilities in the region for heavy construction equipment. The charging plaza has 42 smart charging stations with a charging capacity of up to 400 kW, making electric mobility more feasible for the transport and construction sectors. This promotes emission-free construction using local solar and wind energy.
During his tour of the site, the King talked with WattHub staff and other stakeholders about the challenges of emission-free construction. Because despite the ambitious aims and the necessity, it’s still not always easy to switch over to electric equipment. It’s not just the level of investment but also, for example, the lack of charging facilities that plays a role. Many businesses are denied a heavy-duty connection by the grid operator, making electrification of their fleet and equipment difficult.
Gerben van den Berg, Director WattHub: ‘WattHub is responding to this need. Because it’s not just the project but the entire region that can benefit from this unique innovation. The charging plaza has more capacity than the project actually requires, and the additional capacity can be utilised for companies in the region with similar charging needs. Local businesses can now accelerate their investment in sustainable equipment. This enables us to fulfil not just our own ambitions, but also the sustainability ambitions of others.’
Carlos Mollet, Commercial Director Dredging & Infra at Van Oord: ‘We are proud that Van Oord has contributed to the development of WattHub, the first public charging plaza for heavy equipment and lorries. This development is an important part of Van Oord’s sustainability programme, reducing emissions and ultimately working towards net-zero emissions by 2050.’
WattHub’s ambition is to create multiple fast-charging plazas across the country, enabling even more regions to become more sustainable and making smart charging available to all. Top image: Source: Van Oord