The New Routes for the Energy Transition project has officially kicked off on October 27. For the coming ten months, TNO, Utrecht University (UU) and DIFFER are setting up new national research communities to speed up the energy transition. NWO is funding three projects aimed at spatial planning, future energy infrastructure, and the business challenge for the energy transition. TNO, UU and DIFFER will create new communities to bring together relevant knowledge - both from science and society.
During a productive meeting with its project members, hosted at Utrecht University, the projects were discussed in detail and major crossovers were identified. Especially this last aspect is of importance as the energy transition requires collaboration across different disciplines.
Beatrix Bos, project leader of the future energy infrastructure project at DIFFER, emphasizes the urgency of the project: “We are currently at a point where important investment decisions must be made for our future energy infrastructure while it’s still unclear what our energy mix will be. Therefore, we must compare scenarios for different energy carriers to come to an integrated energy infrastructure design.”
Mix of energy carriers: infrastructure
One project will concentrate on the multi-energy carrier character of the future circular energy system. Given the transition we are in, it is as of yet still unclear what the mix of energy carriers in our future carbon neutral energy system will look like. But we cannot wait to build the necessary large-scale infrastructure. Therefore, this project aims to set up the right processes and procedures to come to a system design of the future energy infrastructure, despite the current unknowns. Richard van de Sanden and Beatrix Bos from DIFFER will carry out this subproject.
The importance of spatial planning in the energy transition increases rapidly. Research questions in the second project are how to deal with competing claims, and how to improve processes and procedures to better integrate the energy transition into the environment.
Investment under uncertainty
The third topic is business challenges for (Dutch) industry. The National Climate Agreement offers a long-term strategic alignment on goals, but there is not yet a robust view on the path towards 2050, nor a shared vision on the 2050 portfolio of industrial activities. This leads to investment under uncertainty. Goal of this subproject is to investigate how to cope with these uncertainties and how to improve the future investment climate.
The focus of these research projects was determined by the Scientific Board of NERA – the Netherlands Energy Research Alliance. NERA brings together the Dutch research institutions working on renewable energy and oversees the Dutch National Research Agenda route Energy Transition. First answers in these projects are expected to lead to new research questions and consortia that can be further developed in the context of the Energy Transition route.
DIFFER, Utrecht University, TNO, Sustainable Industry Lab, Sustainable Finance Lab, EIRES
We are already looking for partners for our new research community. If you would like to receive more info or think along, please contact us at b  r  a  bos  differ  nl.