The official launch of the Green Energy Initiative took place last week, at the University of Twente. Within the university, the CTIT, IGS, and MESA+ research institutes will be pooling their research efforts in the field of renewable energy. A large number of researchers from a range of disciplines attended a kick-off meeting, where they shared their research results and research ambitions. Jan Emmerzaal, Chair for the day and Programme Director of the Initiative, hailed this event as a great success. “I was delighted that so many people, from all over the University of Twente, attended the kick-off meeting. The presentations clearly showed that the topic of energy is the focus of a great deal of research, moreover those involved are more than ready to cooperate with one another. It is now up to the Green Energy Initiative to strengthen those connections.”
Within the framework of the Green Energy Initiative, the CTIT, IGS, and MESA+ research institutes will be pooling their efforts in the field of renewable energy. Not only does this streamline contacts with external agencies and organizations, it also enables research to be better coordinated throughout the University of Twente as a whole. Currently, more than 175 scientists in 35 departments are devoting part or all of their research effort to the field of renewable energy.
The initiative focuses on three themes, “Energy from Biomass”, “ICT & Smart Grids”, and “Advanced Materials”. Each of these themes involves a detailed focus on the link between technological innovation and behavioural research, organizational research, and social science research, as this is essential to the successful implementation of innovations.
Ed Brinksma, the Rector Magnificus, opened the meeting. In Prof. Brinksma’s view, securing a reliable, worldwide supply of clean energy is one of the most important challenges facing this generation. “We can - and we must - do our bit. The energy issue is too all-encompassing to be solved by technical people alone. We need a broad-based approach, involving every scientific discipline. Also, technical solutions will have no chance of success without support from society as a whole. For this reason, the Green Energy Initiative is entirely in keeping with our Human Touch High Tech profile.”
At the conclusion of his opening speech, Ed Brinksma gave the floor to keynote speaker, Rein Willems. Mr Willems, who has previously served as the President of Shell Netherlands and as a member of the Upper House of the Dutch parliament, is now one of the leading lights of the chemistry “Top Sector”. In his speech he described the Green Energy Initiative as a very sound initiative, especially as it involves extensive cooperation between a wide range of different disciplines. He also emphasized the huge importance of investing in more renewable energy. “Energy demand is still rising fast, over the next 25 years it will grow by more than a third. CO2 emissions are outpacing energy demand, and the balance between energy supply and demand is often out of kilter.” Rein Willems identifies three solutions that are in keeping with the Trias Energetica model. Firstly, limit energy demand, secondly, encourage the use of renewable energy, and thirdly, use fossil fuels as efficiently and with as little pollution as possible.
After the keynote speech, Sascha Kersten mounted the stage to describe University of Twente research into the use of biomass as a source of energy. He was followed by Gerard Smit, who talked about the use of ICT in creating Smart Grids (smart power networks). The next speaker, Mark Huijben, summarized University of Twente research into smart materials that could be harnessed for energy production. Maarten Arentsen then highlighted the essential role of the behavioural, organizational, and social sciences in technological research. Each of these speakers is a coordinator of one of the various research themes that make up the Green Energy Initiative.
Following these introductory talks on each of the various themes, a wide range of researchers gave presentations on their current research work and on their research goals. Sixteen speakers, ranging from PhDs and postdocs to full professors, from many different disciplines, gave a series of short presentations throughout the day. It emerged that they were all very keen to work with researchers from a different background and with a different focus. This is exactly what the Green Energy Initiative is all about - making connections.
You can find further details about the Green Energy Initiative at its website.
Copyright for photographs: Gijs van Ouwerkerk