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The Afsluitdijk – an icon of innovation

The Afsluitdijk – an icon of innovation


The Afsluitdijk has been an example of Dutch marine engineering for decades. The 32 kilometre long dam protect large parts of the Netherlands since 1932 against flooding from the Wadden Sea and the IJsselmeer. After more than 85 years, the dyke is in need of renewal. The dyke will combine various objectives and functions. Reinforced hydraulic structures and two new highwater protection locks will protect the hinterland from flooding. Location and circumstances will be exploited for innovative technology and sustainable energy. Following completion, the Netherlands will again have an iconic project as a symbol of the innovative character of Dutch marine engineering.

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This is such a unique and iconic project that it contributes to all the SDGs to which Van Oord is committed. In the next few years, several innovative features will be introduced. These measures will ensure that the energy neutral Afsluitdijk ensures increased traffic safety and can continue to resist the power of the water until at least 2050.

Reinforcement of the Afsluitdijk

On the Wadden Sea side, the dyke will be raised and reinforced by means of a new revetment. We will be using Levvel-blocs on most of the lower slope. Levvel-blocs, an application of the innovative XblocPlus, are concrete armour units developed especially for the Afsluitdijk. At least 100 blocks a day will be produced in Harlingen by a fully automated process and transported over water to the dyke.  A crane barge will then be used to position the blocks, a total of approximately 75,000. On each Levvel-bloc a RFID chip will be attached on which all relevant Qa/QC documentation is stored.

Compared to alternative revetment, the innovative Levvel-blocs achieve a 35% saving of concrete (approx. 200,000 m3). This leads to 40,000 tonnes less CO2, a reduction of no less than 56%.

Carlos Mollet, Levvel’s Project Director

Energy neutral dike

The sluice complex at Den Oever will be extended to include new discharge sluices in the intermediate islands. This will allow more water that enters the IJsselmeer lake via the River IJssel to be drained into the Wadden Sea. If water levels are high in the Wadden Sea, discharging is not possible. For this reason, two large pumping stations are being constructed in Den Oever. The pumps will operate with very low energy consumption and are fish-friendly. All energy, including used by the pumps, will be compensated by 2.7 hectares of solar panels near Den Oever, resulting in an energy neutral dyke.

Levvel, contracted by Rijkswaterstaat, will be designing, constructing and financing the reinforcement of the Afsluitdijk and maintaining it for a period of 25 years. Levvel is a consortium consisting of Van Oord (in collaboration with Aberdeen Standard Investments and APG Group), BAM (in collaboration with PGGM) and Rebel (in collaboration with Epico).  

Related U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

  • Icon: affordable clean energy affordable clean energy
  • Icon: decent work economic growth decent work economic growth
  • Icon: industry innovation infrastructure industry innovation infrastructure
  • Icon: sustainable cities communities sustainable cities communities
  • Icon: climate action climate action
  • Icon: life below water life below water
  • Icon: partnership goals partnership goals