ECN research stimulates energy transition and economy
ECN wants its research programmes to contribute to the much-needed energy transition as well as economic growth in the Netherlands. ECN's research and technological developments in biomass, energy and industry, storage and integration of renewable energy, wind energy and solar energy make sustainability and cost savings achievable.
Innovation and collaboration
In the Energy Agreement it was agreed that by 2020, 14% of the energy used in the Netherlands should come from sustainable sources and that we should achieve 100 petajoules of energy savings compared to 2013. In addition to this, the Netherlands supports the European ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by the year 2050. The Netherlands is working hard to achieve this, but there is still much to be done if we are to reach these goals. The energy transition offers new opportunities for Dutch industry, and innovation, technological development and collaboration between industry, the government and knowledge institutions are vital.
Our goals are to achieve long-term sustainability through, for example, developing knowledge and technology to convert biomass thermochemically and/or through chemical catalysis into fuels, chemicals, materials, electricity and heat; to make energy management in industry more sustainable through innovation, thus achieving at least 2% energy savings per year; and to reduce industrial CO2 emissions to zero per cent, for example by replacing fossil raw materials with sustainable alternatives. ECN develops technology for energy storage and for matching supply and demand in order to integrate renewable energy sources in the energy system.
In order to accelerate the energy transition, ECN is working hard to reduce the cost of sustainable energy production. ‘Right now sustainable energy is more expensive than energy from fossil fuels in the Netherlands, but the costs of wind energy for example is approaching the costsfor electricity from coal-fired power stations, and solar power is not far behind’, says Ruud van den Brink, programme development manager at ECN. The aim is to reduce the cost price of energy and heat from biomass to under four euros per gigajoule, and by 2020 to reduce the cost of offshore wind energy by 40% compared to 2010. By 2020 the production costs for solar energy can be reduced to 0.3-0.4 euros per Watt peak power, followed by further cost reductions. ‘Every year is bringing us closer to producing even cheaper solar panels.’ In addition to this, ECN is exploring alternativeforms of – and locations for – solar panels, in order to be able to produce as much renewable energy as possible.
Benefit to the economy
ECN's energy research and technology development help to make the Dutch economy more competitive and to create jobs. ‘Ways in which the energy transition is of benefit to the economy include the installation of solar panels and the construction of offshore wind parks. Many solar panels come from Asia, but the machines to make them come from the Netherlands. Up to 2020 we are expecting an extra 10,000 jobs and a turnover of 4 billion euros, and that is only for the solar sector.’
Infographics on research programmes
ECN's research programmes describe the knowledge and technology we will be developing in 2017 to achieve our goals. These are shown in easy-to-read infographics (click on thumbnails to read more).