June 2013

Squinting at a candle

‘Squinting at a candle so you can see twice as much light: yet another way to save energy!’ For me, this quote of the Belgian Cartoonist Kamagurka symbolises the search for alternative energy applications. After all, the versatility and complexity of energy make it impossible to make our energy system sustainable with one single solution only. This view has only been confirmed since I joined ECN eight months ago. I am impressed by the level of knowledge and expertise we are able to deploy at ECN to enable a transition to a sustainable energy system.

Energy saving potential
The most important reason why ECN, as a knowledge institute, is such an interesting partner for the industry is the fact that we offer a complete package. In all areas of sustainable energy (i.e. solar, wind, biomass, energy efficiency, et cetera) we can provide the industry with realistic future scenarios that take regulations into account. Moreover, we support the scale-up of industry with experiments and consultancy, and we deliver due diligence research and technical-economic evaluations.

More than electricity and heat
My role at ECN consists of promoting focus on the market and on anticipating customer demand. Moreover, with my background in chemistry, I find it important that the chemical sector and the energy sector are merged together, enabling ECN to also offer added value in chemistry. This is already yielding visible results. For some technologies, the deployment of biomass is no longer automatically resulting in production of green gas, electricity or heat. In addition to this, much effort is now also made for the conversion of biomass into chemicals and plastics, for example. Good examples include the conversion of woody flows into green Coca Cola bottles and the production of so-called platform chemicals (ethene, benzene, xylene, toluene) from biomass gasification

Collaboration is the magic word
We can only take big strides if the universities, knowledge institutes, authorities and industry engage in intensive collaborations. For me, ECN is the place to be where I can dedicate myself 100 per cent to realising the transition to a sustainable energy system. And I am counting on you, too!

Jelle Blekxtoon is business developer Biomass & Energy Efficiency at ECN