Smart use of fossil fuel during phase-out

23-11-2015
Hans Overdiep, manager Energy Transition
Hans Overdiep, manager Energy Transition

Interview with Hans Overdiep, manager Energy Transition at GasTerra

Several years ago, the Netherlands started the transition process towards the use of sustainable energy. This is a long process, in which the use of fossil fuels is gradually phased out.

“At the same time, we are looking at how we can, for example, use natural gas in a smart and more efficient way in the next few years”, says Hans Overdiep, manager Energy Transition at GasTerra.

Approximately half of the Dutch energy is used by manufacturing. What are the opportunities there to lower the consumption of natural gas? Overdiep: “There are mainly opportunities in making processes use energy in a smarter way. A factory can, for example, use residual heat elsewhere on site. We can also organize the production of electricity in a different manner. Now, this often happens at large power stations, located along the sea or river shore, as they require water for cooling. However, it should also be possible to generate electricity on site, with smaller installations. The heat this generates, can then be used in the factory’s own processes or to heat buildings. Such small installations are almost twice as efficient as large power plants. This enables us to make big steps towards the reduction of CO2 emissions. In addition, it creates the flexibility in electricity supply we need for the future, because of the increase in the sun and wind energy.”

Chicken or egg

The problems in these developments are mainly financial. Companies look at the payback times of their investments. The technology and solutions are out there, but who is going to take the lead? “Technology manufacturers say that the payback times can be reduced in large-scale applications”, Overdiep knows. “But a manufacturer does not set up a production line for only a few customers. How to get through this phase? That’s the hard part. It is a bit like the chicken-and-egg story. Perhaps, in time, the industrial sector will be forced to take more action. But that is not a situation we prefer. One solution may be that companies work together, perhaps even with their competitor. They can then benefit from savings together, because energy transition is all about collaboration”.
As regards to gas, The Netherlands is an international leader in the use of gas and gas applications. It is, and was, according to Overdiep, a very rewarding source of fuel, which earned The Netherlands a lot of money. “And if we are smart now, we can also become a leader in the phasing out of that gas.”

 

This interview was published on www.duurzame-energie.nu