Inside an emerging heat community

Interview with Olaf Heinen, 50 Tinten Groen Assendorp

Olaf Heinen
50 Tinten Groen Assendorp



Olaf Heinen


50 Tinten Groen Assendorp




Zwolle, The Netherlands


This is the story of humans who find common ground in the heat transition. It’s a wonderful example and it gives hope in times where we hear more often about discord than consensus. Today we are in Zwolle, around 1h20 drive from Amsterdam. The town of 130.000 inhabitants has a beautiful medieval centre. Today’s guest, Olaf Heinen, lives in the neighbourhood of Assendorp, more specifically in the area of Sallandsweide.This area is composed of very different types of houses and holds a very diverse group of residents. This is also where most of the city’s low-income people live.

A few years ago, Olaf and his neighbours wondered how they could make their 170 homes more comfortable, their heating cleaner and their streets greener. Olaf can be called an “entrepreneurial activist” and during the interview you’ll understand why. He explains how conversations around the kitchen table led to the idea of installing a heating network owned by the residents. Olaf is a trained energy consultant and since several years he puts his knowledge at the service of his own neighbourhood, as part of the program 50 shades of green of Assendorp which is a pilot area for the SCCALE 20-30-50 project.

Heating actually represents around half of the final energy consumption in Europe. In 2021 only 23% of heating and cooling was produced from renewables according to Eurostat. Figures are even smaller when it comes to heating that is collectively owned by citizens. But some seeds have been planted in Europe: community district heating is already well advanced in Northern Italy (region of South Tyrol) and in Denmark. In two other countries the topic is up and coming: Belgium and the Netherlands. That’s why we wanted to know more about what communities are up to there!

50 Tinten Groen Assendorp

This episode was produced with support from SCCALE 20-30-50. SCCALE is an EU project (Horizon 2020 programme) which makes collaboration happen to get many more energy communities up and running. The people behind SCCALE203050 work on a methodology and toolkit for citizens, cities and policy makers. If you, too, want to see more local energy communities across Europe, check out the toolkit and explore all of the project’s resources at the website