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Hans van der Loo - GRS&RI

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A well-educated population is the greatest asset a nation can have

What do you see as the main challenge for the EU and/or the Netherlands specific with regards to Energy Consciousness?

It is important that people learn to understand the consequences of their energy use: ‘a well-educated population is the greatest asset a nation can have’. We should create a more robust CO2 price to make it more attractive to save energy. It is also important to understand the different roles of science, government and business.
Science is responsible for establishing the situation we are in, what the planetary limits are of the holoceum (the set of conditions that make life as we know it possible), and for helping to understand how quickly we are depleting our CO2 budget to stay within 2 degrees celsius climate change (at current rate we will have spent the budget by 2034).
Governments determine WHAT needs to be done, have to set the framework conditions for action and have to establish the enabling conditions for an energy transition. This comprises both infrastructures e.g. to cope with strongly varying decentralised input of renewables. But they also need to ensure that enough innovative talent is available to come up with solutions for the challenges of sustainable future & competitive Europe).
Industry should determine HOW the targets are most effectively and efficiently achieved. Increasingly these three need to work together. Jet-Net is a best practice of how these partners can successfully team up. This should not just be stimulated in the Netherlands, but in Europe as a whole. We should use our most precious resources on our most pressing challenges!

What is the most important issue with regards to System Integration for the EU and/or the Netherlands and what should be done about it?

To realize its goals, the EU should work as a union not only on paper, but practically as well. The enabling conditions for innovation should be stimulated, but also the capacity for innovation through education and research. With regards to the physical system, the biggest issue results from the changing of the merit order to a renewables-based system. This results in decentralized and more volatile generation of energy and a major increase in energy flow over our networks. We have to think and operate on a European level rather than focusing on national targets. A bigger playing field gives us more degrees of freedom and more scope for optimization. With regards to policy, I think that governments should play a modest role. They should only indicate on which high level targets to focus, not on which technologies to use. Otherwise we might get stuck with a technology when better ones are becoming available and thus miss the goal or the cost efficiency in reaching it.

If you could spend 100 billion euro in the EU next year on the followings subjects, how would you spend them?

Investing in energy saving has top priority, because it is a no-regret investment. A sustainable future will not be possible without addressing the demand side – as well as the supply side. After that, we should invest in more efficient energy markets (e.g. infrastructure). We should not forget the importance of investing in education and communication to increase our innovation capacity and societal acceptance of innovations. A successful energy future depends on local and political support and our own “cope-ability” to deal with the required change that is needed in the exponential era we have entered, but so few understand. As indeed Albert Bartlett was right to say: “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is its inability to understand the exponential function”. We are training our youngsters for jobs that do not yet exist, to deal with problems we are not even aware of. Hence the importance of education can not be underestimated.

What role can the Energy Transition Model play with regards to Energy Consciousness and System Integration?

The model shows the cause and effects relations. Not every measure has the same effect. The merit order is an important aspect to teach, especially to experts in politics and media. Thus it contributes to much needed systemic understanding of an important sphere of society. Media have a role to play as well. They should be able to explain in clear language which no-regret options we have, to raise acceptance and support for implementing innovations we hopefully achieve by investing in communication and education.

Hopefully it will result in more innovations and – as important – a greater societal acceptance for the implementation of these innovations. Too often good ideas strand because of NYMBY/NUMBY amongst the general public or NIMTO (Not In My Term of Office) amongst politicians As Winston Churchil said: A well-educated population is the greatest asset a nation can have. That goes for politicians as well. Beware of those that want to cut on education!

  • Country: Netherlands
  • End Year: 2030

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