The energy transition towards a fully sustainable energy system by 2050 requires innovations in both the technical and social fields. ECN part of TNO makes contributions in both areas so that public authorities, industry and consumers can always make the right choices at any stage. A great deal of knowledge of new technologies and human behaviour is needed to ensure public support.
The coming years will show how the climate agreements made in Paris and the Dutch Climate Accord and Climate Act will be implemented in the Netherlands for all sections of our society. But while we cannot oversee everything yet, the 2030 benchmark does provide an intermediate step towards 2050, and we must already make fundamental choices. TNO advises public authorities at European, national and municipal level on policy choices.
Well-founded visions of the future
ECN part of TNO conducts research in a variety of areas in order to be able to answer relevant questions with well-founded facts. This involves scientifically based analyses of the possible future prospects of energy supply and use. Which sources will supply us with heat, fuels, light and power in the future? In addition to the well-known sustainable sources such as sun and wind, geothermal energy, biomass and residual heat will play an important role. Furthermore, energy storage and intelligent heating, electricity and gas grids should help to speed up the energy transition. TNO will transfer the knowledge it has acquired to parties from industry and public authorities that are charged with implementing the transition.
Development of supply and demand
ECN part of TNO can use its own calculation models to provide insight into how the supply and demand of energy can develop in the future and how the parties involved can respond to this. The current conventional energy market is highly demand-driven. When there is a high demand for electricity, power plants increase their production and in cold periods we tap into gas storage. But the production of solar and wind power is much less easy to regulate: in future, on cloudy or quiet days, we will not be able to make the wind and solar power plants run any faster. This requires a change in the way the energy market is managed: alternative policy models and market mechanisms for back-up plants and energy storage must provide an answer.
On the consumer side, ECN part of TNO is conducting research into behavioural aspects. The energy transition, for example the phasing-out of natural gas, is encountering opposition from many people. But for a sustainable energy supply, the participation of residents is crucial. Here TNO combines technical and economic expertise with behavioural science. This involves providing substantiated facts, but also a broader context in which the relationship between quality of life in the neighbourhood, social cohesion, safety, financial security and personal development is investigated. The energy transition is not a priority for most people. As soon as it becomes clear that generating energy together in the neighbourhood or a collective heat supply pays off, interest often increases.