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Impact as Trainee on the Energy transition

Blogger: Mathieu Baas • 15 Nov 2018

After I finished my Masters I knew I wanted to contribute to one of the largest societal challenges in my generation: the energy transition. A topic this big is hard to capture and I did not have a good idea how I could contribute. Luckily, TNO crossed my path.

The possibility of exploring different aspects of the energy transition combined with the possibility of exploring different functions within TNO attracted me greatly. TNO houses multiple units that are working on the energy transition. Each offers a different perspective and houses different expertise.

ECN part of TNO is the core energy research unit, focusing fully on the energy domain. The Unit Industry focusses on the high-tech and chemical industry and investigates how these industries can tackle the energy transition challenges, among other topics. The Circular Economy & Environment unit looks mainly at the sustainability and residential aspects of the transition and the Unit Strategic Analysis & Policy focusses on business cases and policy studies for enabling the needed change.

For the past 12 months I have had the chance to work with all these parts of TNO. In the first 8 months I worked as a Scientist at the Climate, Air and Sustainability department in Utrecht. I contributed to various topics like supporting a municipality in South Holland that is trying to develop their neighbourhood to be climate proof and energy neutral and how the current gas platforms on the North Sea can contribute to the transition by, for example, producing hydrogen from green wind energy.

One of the biggest projects I worked on was a deep decarbonisation study where three possible scenarios were sketched that showed how the Dutch industry could operate in 2050, given that they will have near zero CO2 emissions. These three what-if scenarios show the operating boundaries of the various sectors and provide guidance in directing further technology development. You can take a look at the results here.

Recently I started as a business developer in Delft at the shared research program VoltaChem. My task during these 8 months is two-fold; supporting the development of the program and help acquiring new projects. I do this by supporting the marketing and communications of the program, organising events where we bring people together and write project proposals together with clients.

One of the events that I organised was a high-level business lunch during the Achema congress in Frankfurt. Bringing together industry from both The Netherlands and Germany, showcasing the current developments and discussing next collaboration steps. This turned out to be a good format to accelerate collaboration. Currently talks about further collaborations are in progress.

In the past months I really got a sense of how TNO is contributing to the energy transition. Not only within the Netherlands but also outside its borders. I knew I wanted to add something to this process, but I had not expected it to come so soon. When I see how clients like the municipality are supported by our results it is a great feeling that you helped take that step forward. Still there are much more steps to take.

At my 3rd spot, I want to take up a different aspect of the work here at TNO, both content wise and function wise, and see how the transition can be accelerated even further. After my third rotation, I aim to find a place within TNO where I can further develop myself and contribute to accelerating the energy transition in the Netherlands. It would be great to look back in a few years to see how much impact we made and how we helped shape the future energy system.

About the author

Name: Mathieu Baas (26)
Background: BSc Electrical Engineering, MSc Offshore Engineering
1st department: Scientist at Climate, Air and Sustainability in Utrecht
2nd department: Business Developer at VoltaChem - Sustainable Chemical Industry in Delft

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