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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. 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.
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.
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