The energy transition should be looked upon as a beckoning perspective

The energy transition should be looked upon as a beckoning perspective

Interview Ab van der Touw, Siemens

After the world wars, human kind has been focused on reconstruction and economic prosperity. We achieved our goal more than we could ever have hoped for. At the same time, a widening gap occurred between those who enjoy its benefits and those who do not. The vast project called the energy transition can provide us new jobs, a new dot on the horizon, even a new way of life.” Living by example “In my daily activities, I influence and inspire my colleagues at Siemens and other stakeholders to make this world a sustainable place to live. We organize meetings internally and externally almost on a daily basis, and we often invite well known people to deliver a key note speech there. Also, we are living sustainability by example. Recently we renovated our real estate here in The Hague to match the highest available energy efficiency standards. The Platinum LEED is the highest ranking certificate you can attain for energy efficiency. This was the first renovated building in the world awarded that certificate – comparable to the European BREAM “Outstanding” qualification.” Energy challenges “Among the most mentioned challenges is the political will on national and EU scale to safeguard that the Paris climate goals will indeed be reached. You need the political will, you need the industry to change from a fossil-fuel to a sustainable energy, you need a legal framework to support that transition. But the most important challenge is to make the working force savvy on the digitalization, and all the technologies involved. Given the enormous pace of this transformation, we need not only well-adapted educational systems for the younger generation, but re-education of the current labour force as well. This will take what I call a delta program on education.” “Siemens plays a leading role in the Dutch TransitionCoalition (TransitieCoalitie). Our complete portfolio is focused on sustainable development of the world. The TransitionCoalition is a multidisciplinary coalition of companies and institutions in the Netherlands. We developed a common vision on a national framework that enables the industry to meet the Paris Accord: a clear and stringent climate goal for 2050 with binding targets for 2030 and ’40 as well; a Minister of Economics, Climate and Energy; an independent authority who safeguards the process and a national investment bank. Main obstacles for energy transition “The main obstacles for energy transition are at a European scale such as the Emission Trading System. Currently, emitting CO2 is too cheap to motivate a sufficient number of participants in the energy arena and to go for sustainable development. This requires international collaboration in the entire EU. We do make progress: Dutch, Germans, Danish, and Belgians are already working closely together on a pentalateral agreement. Other European member states will follow.” “Meanwhile, the Dutch contribution in renewable energy is still the smallest in all European countries. Yet, the participants in the Dutch TransitionCoalition are all convinced there is no alternative. Among these participants are international companies, like Shell and Siemens that are active in many countries. A recent obstacle was the step by the US President to leave the Paris goals. But this may turn out to be a blessing in disguise – making the determination in Europe even stronger to go for a sustainable development.” How to succeed in the energy transition “In order to succeed in the energy transition, a broad insight into technology is required. Within many professions, people will need to know what technology is able to achieve. Society is hardly aware there are tens of different types of renewable energy. Varying from solar and wind, to thermal heat and the reuse of industrial heat, to name but a few. The ignorance in society leads to an overly emotional debate. Public acceptance may grow when more knowledge is achieved in every segment of society.” “A nice example of the needed integrated approach in the city of Amsterdam is the plea to make all tourist canal boats electric. Charging points at quays needed for the vessels can be used for charging electric cars as well. At night, canal boats could transport construction materials into and out of the city center, relieving traffic jams in the mornings and the evenings. Solutions like these need professionals from all kinds, to think out of the box. Everybody will need to come out of their silo thinking, including mayors and aldermen, in order to convince all participants to come along: citizens, entrepreneurs and financial institutions.” Creating awareness “Awareness grows when you enable participants in a smart grid area to produce their own energy. We are testing in Rotterdam with Stedin, Lyv Smart Living, OMNETRIC and the City of Rotterdam. 20,000 participants, both companies and citizens in a living lab, will connect and become ‘pro-sumers’. This lab is aimed to be extended to one million participants. It is an example of how the energy transition is starting to happen. And there are many more. The tendency towards more sustainability cannot be stopped. Nowadays, the younger generation demands of their employers to be relevant in the debate for sustainable development.” “The North West region of continental Europe may be ideal for establishing a model of best practice for the energy transition, because it has several advantages: it is very developed materially and immaterially. The sum of our cold, windy climate, a lack of fossil resources and buildings producing 40 percent of the carbon dioxide emission, provide us with opportunities. Mobility is twenty percent. That is what we need to improve. And in those sectors these countries are successful.” Goal: zero carbon dioxide footprint in the year of 2030 “At Siemens, we are the most sustainable company on various international indices. Our goal is to have a zero carbon dioxide footprint in the year of 2030, way ahead of the Paris climate goals. We already provide our customers with carbon dioxide reducing solutions. This way ‘our’ reductions equal the emission of the twenty largest cities in the world.” “The new generation professionals should be well informed about what technology is capable of, and what it is not. One of the paradoxes of our time is that technology never was so important and impactful, and at the same time so few people grasp the nature of it. Nowadays technology is merely a stepchild in education. Even the OESO has warned that our country is at risk of becoming technologically underdeveloped in ten years from now. Technology education must be improved.” Erasmus Energy Forum “People should attend the Erasmus Energy Forum, because the people who are expected present are not primarily engineers. They’ll be educated as economists and other important key players. A majority of students in those fields need much more insight in this technology.”