Strukton involved in Brouwers dam tidal power plant

16 May 2012

'There is no need to wait for a decision on other changes to the Southwestern Delta works before taking a decision about rebuilding the Brouwers dam.' This was what Ms Marike van Lier Lels said on 16 May when presenting the conclusions of the MIRT (long-term programme for infrastructure, spatial planning and transport) Executive Committee - Grevelingen Exploratory Study. 'The creation of an opening in the Brouwers dam will improve the quality of the water in Lake Grevelingen. The private sector will be able to build a tidal power plant in that opening. If the government enables these modifications, this will be a valuable investment it will not regret,' said Van Lier Lels.


She was the independent chair of the Executive Committee, which consisted of representatives of central government, the provinces of Zeeland and Zuid-Holland, the municipalities bordering Lake Grevelingen and the water boards. The committee was given this assignment by the State Secretary for Infrastructure and the Environment, and the Governing Body of the Grevelingen Nature and Recreational Amenities Board.


The Executive Committee came to a positive conclusion concerning the technical feasibility of creating sluices in the Brouwers dam, which has cut Lake Grevelingen off completely from the North Sea since 1971. These openings are needed to oxygenate the water. Lake Grevelingen is the largest salt-water lake in Europe but oxygen levels fall rapidly at depths of more than ten metres, making life at such depths impossible. This is also damaging the lake's function as a recreational area and recreation is a key driver of the region's economy. The creation of openings in the Brouwers dam is part of a programme to bolster Lake Grevelingen's nature, the recreational sector and the fishing industry. The area will become more attractive for new investments. That includes investments in the Sustainable Marina for the Future, which is to be built next to Brouwers dam.


If the dam is rebuilt, turbines can be installed in the new openings and used to generate electricity from the ebb and flow of the water. This tidal power plant could also be used to pump water out of the Meuse and Rhine rivers and into the sea if conditions became extreme. It would therefore help keep the South-west of the Netherlands safe from flooding.
The costs of building the sluices plus the power plant are estimated at between €300 and €500 million. The committee says there are enough benefits to offset against these costs to make the project worthwhile for society as a whole.

The benefits consist of:

  • sustainable energy
  • better conditions for tourism and recreation
  • the growth of the fishing and shellfish industry
  • protection against flooding
  • jobs
  • innovation

Test centre

Around fifteen companies and institutes are currently involved in setting up a ‘Grevelingen Tidal Test Centre’. That test centre will be used to investigate potential techniques for use in the tidal power plant. In addition, the companies Strukton (construction) and DELTA (energy) are holding discussions about drawing up an investment and operations plan. This will establish what conditions need to be met for the power plant to be profitable.

Fulfilling expectations

Van Lier Lels said on 16 May when presenting the report in Ouddorp: 'Our Exploratory Study contains clear conclusions about the feasibility and the costs and benefits. I therefore hope the Minister, the State Secretary or the cabinet will take a decision as soon as possible on modifying the Brouwers dam. The business community, the municipalities bordering Lake Grevelingen and the provinces are keen for the power plant to be built. It will generate clean energy and give a boost to the area's economy. I am confident that all the political parties will recognise the need to make this crucial investment. The electoral programmes and the new coalition agreement offer good opportunities for fulfilling expectations of contributions to this region.'


During the meeting, the director of Strukton Civiel, Martijn Smitt, said: 'This project is a good example of how public authorities and private parties can work together in finding a sustainable solution to a society's problem. Strukton sees countless opportunities around the world for using tidal energy as an innovative, sustainable solution. This solution will bolster Lake Grevelingen's water quality, its nature, the recreational sector and the fishing industry.'


DELTA was represented by Martin Martens, the Project Development manager. He said at the occasion: 'Tidal energy is in line with DELTA's strategy of CO2 neutrality. A tidal power plant can become reality if the public authorities and private sector work together properly. I hope with all my heart that this happens.'


The Executive Committee's reports (in Dutch) can be found at