Professor Ad van Wijk

Professor Ad van Wijk

Interview with Professor Ad van Wijk

Professor Ad van Wijk is Professor in Future Energy Systems at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) as well as an independent sustainable energy entrepreneur and an advisor for numerous organisations.

What do you find most interesting about the Erasmus Centre for Future Energy Business?

As a professor at TU Delft, for me the most important aspect of the subject is the technical side, but it’s important to build relationships with people working on the business and market aspects, and to develop sustainable energy markets together. This is not just a technical issue. There are paradigm shifts to be made and new businesses to develop, so I’m curious to know more about the Erasmus Centre for Future Energy Business – particularly its knowledge of the energy business, energy markets and policy – and its research topics. We are complementary in this field.

What’s the most useful feature of the Erasmus Energy Forum event?

I hope to learn and also to discuss what the future energy markets will bring. I’m looking forward to hearing about new business concepts for sustainable energy business. I don’t think anyone really knows how to develop this change in concepts, so we need to explore and discuss it with each other. It’ll be interesting for me as well as for the audience.

Why will participants find your presentation Our car as a power plant useful?

I’ll be summarising my book ‘Our car as power plant’ [download it here] which describes how we can generate electricity with cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells, which are more efficient power producers than the present electricity production system with conventional coal, gas or nuclear power plants. We use our cars only 5% of the time, so for 95% of the time they are not in use. Why don’t we connect fuel cell cars to the grid and produce electricity with them? Each fuel cell car is capable of producing 100kW – that’s enough for 100 houses, and they also make two waste products; heat which can be used for heating houses, and clean water.

If we can make the change to fuel cell cars, then we can use them to produce electricity, heat and water. We could change the entire system of producing electricity. How would we organise this?  I’ll describe how technology makes it possible. The work of Prof. Wolf Ketter, the Erasmus Centre for Future Energy Business and others helps to model how it would work, and how to encourage social acceptance.

Will your presentation contain any exclusives?

Yes. I will incorporate new findings and extra research as I present the outline of the book.

Which of our other speakers or presentations are you most interested in hearing, and why?

Lots of the speakers’ names are new to me – I’m interested in hearing all of them.

Can you give an indication of how TU Delft is preparing for the changes in the energy market?

Before I became a part-time professor at TU Delft I was an entrepreneur, founding several businesses developing sustainable energy production and innovative energy products, so I have a lot of expertise in this field. TU Delft asked me to find synergies in the research in the university’s various departments, as well as bring in more visibility and some of my business connections. That’s why I’m now building a team for the Green Village at TU Delft. It brings together research from various departments, for example civil engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial design, chemistry and physics.

What are your goals?

I hope to realise the Green Village this year and build up a research team in our Future Labs to develop three concepts:

·         First, the car as a power plant.

·         Second, a paradigm shift from universal use of electricity as alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC). All renewable energy sources produce DC, and all appliances use DC, but the grid is AC, so we all have to use converters! AC was useful 100 years ago, but not anymore. Conversion from AC to DC wastes energy and uses a lot of expensive copper. The switch needs to be made in the next few decades.

·         Third, the LED lighting revolution to integrate lighting into furniture and objects where it is most useful and avoid the waste of light and energy. An interesting aspect of this development in industrial design is the opportunity to integrate LED into your environment and make it smart, for example developing a smoke detector with LED technology that can also show you a smoke-free escape route. This kind of technology can also transport data and communications.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

I will still be in the field of sustainability.  I hope I can continue to contribute to the changes we need to make in our energy systems.

Professor Ad van Wijk

Professor Ad van Wijk is sustainable energy entrepreneur and part-time Professor Future Energy Systems at TU Delft, the Netherlands.

In 1984, van Wijk founded the company Ecofys, which eventually grew into Econcern. Econcern developed many new sustainable energy products, services and projects. Examples include the 120 MW offshore wind farm Princess Amalia in the North Sea, several multi-MW solar farms in Spain and a bio-methanol plant in the Netherlands, which is the largest second generation biomass plant in the world.

Van Wijk achieved many important prizes for excellent entrepreneurship. Amongst others he was Dutch entrepreneur of the year in 2007 and Dutch top-executive in 2008.

At TU Delft van Wijk will focus on the energy systems of the future. Especially he will do research and at the same time will realize ‘’the Green Village’’.

Van Wijk has published a very readable book  ‘How to boil an egg’   ISBN: 978-1-60750-989-9. At the Green Village he has written the books  ‘Welcome to the Green Village’ and ‘Our Car as Power Plant’ download free at

Follow Ad van Wijk at twitter @advanwijk or via his website

Title and abstract

Our Car as Power Plant

Fuel cell cars can provide more efficient and cleaner transportation. However, we use our cars only about 5% of the time for transportation. So when parked, the fuel cell in the car can produce electricity more efficiently and cleaner than the present electricity system and with useful ‘waste’ products heat and fresh water. The produced electricity, heat and fresh water can be fed into the respective grids or directly used in your own house, office or the school of your kids. The required hydrogen can be produced from gas, (natural gas, biogas) or electricity (hydro, wind, solar, etc.). In the end these fuel cell cars as power plants can replace all power plants worldwide. As a result the fuel cell car as power plant can create an integrated, efficient, reliable, flexible, clean, smart and personalized transport-, energy- and water system. A real paradigm change: Our car as power plant.