Bob van der Zwaan

Professor Sustainable Energy Technology

One of mankind’s largest challenges during the 21st century is to meet the target of the Paris Agreement by limiting the atmospheric temperature increase to well below 2˚C. To achieve this goal our energy system needs to be fundamentally transformed and undergo a transition yielding carbon neutrality by 2050, and negative CO2 emissions after 2050.

Research area

The purpose of my work is to research the energy transition in an integrated manner, since carbon-neutrality can only be realized by analyzing the energy-climate conundrum from a multidisciplinary perspective. Employing both natural and social sciences, as well as expertise from international affairs and policy studies, I perform techno-economic research for low-carbon energy options as well as energy systems in which multiple technologies fit together to deliver affordable, clean, safe and secure energy services.

The intricacies of the energy transition and greenhouse gas emission reductions require approaches in which also complexity plays a leading role, and methods that match short-run with long-term perspectives, as well as studies that cross state boundaries and stretch beyond conventional renewable energy technology.

All units at TNO possess linkages to energy-climate issues. It is my ambition to contribute to solving the energy-climate challenge through applied scientific studies, and create synergies between research groups at TNO, both within and beyond the unit Energy Transition.

Recent results

Bob van der Zwaan leads the integrated assessment modelling (IAM) work at the Energy Transition unit of TNO, notably with the TIAM-ECN model, with which he and his colleagues perform analyses at the global, regional and national level.

Their IAM work is undertaken in projects financed predominantly by the European Commission and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, and serves studies published by, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and International Energy Agency (IEA).

Recent studies with TIAM-ECN have focused on low-carbon development pathways and energy transition trajectories in, for instance, Africa, Europe and Latin America. He also directs multi-disciplinary techno-economics research, presently dedicated to individual energy techniques such as solar fuels, CO2 capture and storage (CCS) and geothermal energy, both in international collaborations and through nationally supported projects.

PhD supervision

  • Steven Salim

Top publications

  • Van der Zwaan, B.C.C., S. Lamboo, F. Dalla Longa, “Timmermans’ dream: An electricity and hydrogen partnership between Europe and North Africa”, Energy Policy, 159, 2021, 112613.
  • Riahi, K., C. Bertram, D. Huppmann, J. Rogelj, V. Bosetti, A.-M. Cabardos, A. Deppermann, L. Drouet, S. Frank, O. Fricko, S. Fujimori, M. Harmsen, T. Hasegawa, V. Krey, G. Luderer, L. Paroussos, R. Schaeffer, M. Weitzel, B. van der Zwaan, Z. Vrontisi, F. Dalla Longa, J. Desprès, F. Fosse, K. Fragkiadakis, M. Gusti, F. Humpenöder, K. Keramidas, P. Kishimoto, E. Kriegler, M. Meinshausen, L.P. Nogueira, K. Oshiro, A. Popp, P.R.R. Rochedo, G. Ünlü, B. van Ruijven, J. Takakura, M. Tavoni, D. van Vuuren, B. Zakeri, “Implications of avoiding temperature overshoot for the attainability and costs of stringent mitigation targets”, Nature Climate Change, 11, 12, 2021, 1063+.
  • Drouet, L., V. Bosetti, S. Padoan, L. Aleluia Reis, C. Bertram, F. Dalla Longa, J. Després, J. Emmerling, F. Fosse, K. Fragkiadakis, S. Frank, O. Fricko, S. Fujimori, M. Harmsen, V. Krey, K. Oshiro, L.P. Nogueira, L. Paroussos, F. Piontek, K. Riahi, P.R.R. Rochedo, R. Schaeffer, J. Takakura, K.-I. van der Wijst, B. van der Zwaan, D. van Vuuren, Z. Vrontisi, M. Weitzel, B. Zakeri, M. Tavoni, “Net zero-emission pathways reduce the physical and economic risks of climate change”, Nature Climate Change, 11, 12, 2021, 1070+.
  • Bertram, C., K. Riahi, J. Hilaire, V. Bosetti, L. Drouet, O. Fricko, A. Malik, L.P. Nogueira, B. van der Zwaan, B. van Ruijven, D. van Vuuren, M. Weitzel, F. Dalla Longa, H.-S. de Boer, J. Emmerling, F. Fosse, K. Fragkiadakis, M. Harmsen, K. Keramidas, P.N. Kishimoto, E. Kriegler, V. Krey, L. Paroussos, D. Saygin, Z. Vrontisi, G. Luderer, “Energy system developments and investments in the decisive decade for the Paris Agreement goals”, Environmental Research Letters, 16, 7, 2021, 074020.
  • Dalla Longa, F., B.R.N. Sweerts, B.C.C. van der Zwaan, “Exploring the Complex Origins of Energy Poverty in The Netherlands with Machine Learning”, Energy Policy, 156, 2021, 112373.
  • van Stralen, J.N.P., F. Dalla Longa, B.W. Daniëls, K.E.L. Smekens, B.C.C. van der Zwaan, “OPERA: A New High-Resolution Energy System Model for Sector Integration Research”, Environmental Modeling & Assessment, 26, 2021,873–889.
  • Dalla Longa, F. and B.C.C. van der Zwaan, “Heart of Light: An Assessment of Enhanced Electricity Access in Africa”, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 136, 2021, 110399.
  • Dalla Longa, F., R. Detz, B.C.C. van der Zwaan, “Integrated assessment projections for the impact of innovation on CCS deployment in Europe”, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 103, 2020,103133. • Nogueira, L.P., F. Dalla Longa, B.C.C. van der Zwaan, “A Cross-sectoral Integrated Assessment of Alternatives for Climate Mitigation in Madagascar”, Climate Policy, 20, 10, 2020,1257-1273.
  • Detz, R.J. and B.C.C. van der Zwaan “Surfing the Microwave Oven Learning Curve”, Journal of Cleaner Production, 271, 2020, 122278.
  • Dalla Longa, F., L.P. Nogueira, J. Limberger, J.-D. van Wees, B.C.C. van der Zwaan, “Scenarios for Geothermal Energy Deployment in Europe”, Energy, 206, 2020, 118060.
  • Sweerts, B.R.N., R.J. Detz, B.C.C. van der Zwaan, “Evaluating the Role of Unit Size in Learning-by-Doing of Energy Technologies”, Joule,4, 5, 20 May, 2020, 967-970.
  • Sweerts, B., S. Pfenninger, S. Yang, D. Folini, B.C.C. van der Zwaan, M. Wild, “Solar electricity generation increase by up to 13% from a return to pollution-free 1960s surface radiation in China”, Nature Energy, 4, 2019, 657–663.
  • Detz, R.J. and B.C.C. van der Zwaan, “Transitioning Towards Negative CO2 Emissions”, Energy Policy, 133, 2019, 110938, 1-4.
  • van der Zwaan, B.C.C. and F. Dalla Longa, “Integrated Assessment Projections for Global Geothermal Energy Use”, Geothermics, 82, 2019, 203-211.
  • Dalla Longa, F., T. Strikkers, T. Kober, B.C.C. van der Zwaan, “Advancing Energy Access Modelling with Geographic Information System Data”, Environmental Modeling and Assessment, 23, 6, 2018, 627-637.
  • van der Zwaan, B.C.C., T. Kober, F. Dalla Longa, A.J. van der Laan, G.J. Kramer, “An Integrated Assessment of Pathways for Low-Carbon Development in Africa”, Energy Policy, 117, 2018, 387-395.
  • van der Zwaan, B.C.C., K. Calvin, L. Clarke (Guest Editors), “Climate Mitigation in Latin America: implications for energy and land use”, Preface to the Special Issue on the findings of the CLIMACAP-LAMP project, Energy Economics, 56, 2016, 495-498.
  • Jewell, J., V. Vinichenko, D. McCollum, N. Bauer, K. Riahi, T. Aboumahboub, O. Fricko, M. Harmsen, T. Kober, V. Krey, G. Marangoni, M. Tavoni, D.P. van Vuuren, B. van der Zwaan, A. Cherp, “Energy Independence and Climate Change Mitigation”, Nature Energy, 16073, 1, 2016, 1-9.


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