December 18, 2013
On the 29th of November 2013 a conference was held in Brussels for participants in the ‘Regions of Knowledge’ (RoK) initiative. The purpose of the meeting was to inform officials of the European Commission about the progress and the process of the RoK projects that are currently in operation. As part of the Seventh Framework Programme the RoK initiative aims to strengthen the research potential of European regions by supporting the development of regional ‘research-driven clusters’, associating universities, research centres, enterprises and regional authorities.
The European North Sea Energy Alliance (ENSEA) project, which started in October 2012, was represented by the coordinator of the project Dr. Koos Lok. During his presentation, Dr. Lok presented a holistic view of energy systems integration in relation to the North Sea as one of the hotspots in Europe for a sustainable energy transition programme. The partners in the ENSEA project consisting of Scottish, German, Norwegian and Dutch research driven energy clusters have all made regional analyses of their innovation capacities regarding the different aspects of an integrated energy system. Dr. Lok explained how some of the main findings and conclusions of these analyses will contribute to identifying smart interregional cooperation opportunities for the regions and possibly, the wider North Sea area as a whole.
Dr Lok stated, “Partly based on these conclusions, some possibilities for pilot projects and thematic focuses like green decommissioning and hydro storage were presented as a first outline for future action.”
Furthermore challenges and lessons learned in the process of project development like data collection methodology, analysing innovation processes in the ENSEA region where shared between the RoK project consortia and representatives of the European Commission.
The partners of the ENSEA project are currently working to validate the results of the regional analyses with stakeholders within their region to thereby finalise this stage within the project. The final report is expected to be published early 2014. The next stage of the project will focus on the development of a ‘Joint Action Plan’ in which future action and better coordination of research and innovation will be outlined to enhance smart interregional cooperation and contribute to Europe’s ambitious energy targets. This ‘Joint Action Plan’ is scheduled to be presented mid 2014 during the midterm-conference in Stavanger, Norway.
December 18, 2013
Prof. Hans-Peter Beck is Chairman of the Board of Energy Research Centre of Lower Saxony(Energie-Forschungszentrum Niedersachsen, EFZN). The EFZN is the scientific partner of Wachstumsregion Ems-Achse within the ENSEA project. Prof. Beck explains why EFZN joined the project and what contributions can be made.
Prof. Beck started by saying: ‘Germany has drawn a lot of international attention for presenting a long-term perspective until 2050, the so-called “Energiewende”, for the transition towards a renewable energy-based energy system. It refers to a fundamental transition to a decarbonized energy system based mainly on variable renewable energy along with the emphasis on increased energy efficiency and without the use of nuclear energy. However, even though Germany is a forerunner in the Energiewende in Europe, it is vital for a successful system integration to get involved and aligned with all European partners. Within ENSEA, the competences of the participating European regions can be pooled and complemented mutually.’
Lower Saxony is a key region of the Energiewende and the N°1 producer of wind energy in Germany. Furthermore, the Ems-Achse cluster is the most North Western part of this Bundesland and is well known as an “energy hub” – producing oenergy from renewable sources as well as energy from fossil fuels, transmission of crude oil and gas and manufacturing of large wind power plants, among many other things. The economic region Ems-Achse consists of about 350 business companies, 59 local authorities, 25 educational and research institutions, 8 trade associations and chambers of commerce. With EFZN and Ems-Achse a strong Triple Helix structure was formed to open new doors to cooperations and research and development in the energy sector, both nationally and internationally.
The EFZN located in the German Lower-Saxon city of Goslar is a scientific institution of the Clausthal University of Technology in cooperation with the Universities of Braunschweig, Göttingen, Hannover and Oldenburg. All of these Universities are located in Lower Saxony. The activities of EFZN cover the range from the entire energy-generation and energy-utilisation chain, i.e. from the raw-material source to disposal. An average of 80 researchers from the fields of natural science, engineering science, law as well as the social and economic sciences work together under the same roof, thus facilitating an interdisciplinary approach to energy research and energy system integration.
Upon the question what results Prof. Beck would like to present when ENSEA is finished he says: ‘Based on the findings in WP2 (regional inventory, strengths and weaknesses), WP 3 and WP4 (drawing up and implementation of the joint action plan) I expect a consolidation of the European ENSEA network, a number of research, development and demonstration projects and initiatives deriving from the Joint Action Plan which should serve as a basis to create a European region of energy excellence in the North Sea region.’
November 28, 2013
This years’ Energy Convention (former Energy Delta Convention) in Groningen, 19th and 20th November, was again very successful , hosting up to 1000 visitors.
European North Sea Energy Alliance (ENSEA) joined the programme as a side event at the main stage on the 19th. Charles Groenhuijsen introduced and interviewed three key note speakers on various aspects of system integration for a secure sustainable energy future.
Hans van Breugel, managing director Tocardo (The Netherlands), presented the project Energising deltas. This project is about combining sustainable energy generation, like blue energy and tidal energy, with water management in delta areas. Partners in the project are Tocardo, REDstack, Strukton, Deltares, ECN, Erasmus University, Energy Valley and Tidal Testing Centre. According to Van Breugel this is a perfect export product that can be used in the North Sea area and is a great example of an innovative new way of sustainable energy generation.
Asbjørn Høivik of Lyse Produksion (Norway) explained how Hydropower plants are an opportunity for large scale energy storage in the North Sea Energy System. He indicates that most hydro power plants in Norway have storage capacities provided by reservoirs. Rogaland, partner in ENSEA, has the largest reservoir in Europe with approximately 5 % of the total amount of storage capacity in Europe.
Offshore green decommissioning is another area ENSEA focuses on. After showing the video about ENSEA Koos Lok of the Energy Valley Foundation in The Netherlands takes us further into the decommissioning story. Up to 600 offshore installations will be decommissioned in the coming 20-40 years, which brings along high costs. Looking at other options like re-use of the platforms in an ecological way seem to be very promising, according to Lok. “We are working towards a Masterplan of re-use within the energy infrastructures.”
The Energy Convention is organised by the Energy Academy Europe and Energy Valley Foundation and is an international platform for leading energy experts from various disciplines, sectors and countries. Each year the latest topics in the field of energy transition are discussed by senior representatives from research & development, business and governments. This convention offers an inspiring surrounding for visitors to learn about projects like ENSEA.
Download the presentation: ENSEA Event Energy Convention – 7MB
November 22, 2013
The North Sea Commission has been in close dialogue with the European Parliament about the need to analyze the North Sea region’s growth potential and the added value of having a future shared macro-regional strategy for the North Sea. At the plenary meeting on 23rd October, the European Parliament endorsed the proposed action and approved a budget line of €250.000 in 2014 for a preparatory action.
Background The North Sea Commission developed the North Sea Region 2020 strategy paper in consultation with members and stakeholders in the North Sea Region. The strategy paper regards the North Sea Region as a territorial cooperation area, and its strategic focus is on the major challenges and common characteristics where transnational action and collaborative working is considered to give added value.
The strategy paper identifies five strategic priorities that are closely linked to the EU2020 objectives and contributes to the implementation of several (if not all) of the EU2020 flagship initiatives:
- Managing maritime space
- Increasing accessibility and clean transport
- Tackling climate change
- Attractive and sustainable communities
- Promoting innovation and excellence
A preparatory action The strategy paper was a first step towards analyzing the challenges and opportunities for the North Sea area and exploring the potential for regional growth in support of the EU 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
However, to fully explore the regional growth potential and lay the grounds for a future strong North Sea region, there is a need to carry out more in-depth analysis of the strategic priorities in the North Sea Region 2020 strategy paper and their added value in a European community context.
Activities The proposed preparatory action will therefore finance a number of coordinated activities that will focus on:
- In-depth analysis/studies of the five priorities identified in the North Sea Region 2020 strategy paper
- Stakeholder conferences to address the issues of commitment, cooperation and content
- Follow-up dialogue with stakeholders including the European Commission, Member states and regional authorities
The proposed preparatory action does not aim at establishing a macro-regional strategy. Rather, it seeks to examine the areas and sectors of common interest and to explore and build commitment among stakeholders, thereby providing a basis for decision on the future development and creation of growth in the North Sea region.
Output The final output of the action will be an in-depth analysis of the North Sea region’s growth potential, including possible intervention areas, and a white book from the North Sea Commission to the EU and Member States about the potential and added value of a shared regional strategy and cooperation for the North Sea Region.
Link to original news item: http://www.northseacommission.info/index.php/about/146-focus-articles/293-north-sea-commission-seeks-funding-from-the-european-parliament-to-analyze-north-sea-region-growth-potential.
November 7, 2013
On 16 and 17 October 2013, the partners of the European North Sea Energy Alliance (ENSEA) came together for their first interregional workshop, hosted by the Energy Research Centre Niedersachsen (EFZN).
On the first day, the results from extensive quantitative and qualitative regional analyses where presented and discussed between the ENSEA project partners. This discussion delivered a first real insight into the synergies between partner regions and highlighted the opportunities for cooperation in relation to the integration of (renewable) energy sources in and around the North Sea. The insights presented will be used to further define the content of the ENSEA Joint Action Plan: a prioritized list of key subjects and regional resources that will be developed through interregional cooperation by industry, the public sector and academia in an attempt to realize an integrated, more durable North Sea energy system.
On the second day, ENSEA partners gave their own perspectives on the regional analyses as part of the 6th annual Lower Saxony – Energy Days. In addition, a fringe event to the regular Energy Days program, the different ENSEA regions presented interesting perspectives on how energy development within their own region might benefit from or influence wider North Sea energy system.
The Rogaland (NO) region presented an in depth analysis of their network of hydropower plants, which in time may provide a unique opportunity for large scale energy storage in a wider and more integrated North Sea energy system.
The Energy Valley region in the Northern Netherlands highlighted the potential to re-use existing offshore E&P infrastructure for renewable energy purposes through an innovative concept called “green decommissioning”.
The Scottish region focused on a more socially embedded aspect of the required integration of renewable energy technologies; the enormous possibilities for more alignment of energy production and energy consumption by means of demand side management.
Concluding, the region of Lower Saxony finished this session by clarifying how renewable energy developments in Northern Germany will influence the wider energy system and where alternative solutions to large infrastructural problems may be found.
Later that day, the different regional perspectives discussed in a panel session featuring all regional partners.
October 30, 2013
Prof. Mohsen Assadi, Professor at the University of Stavanger and Managing Director at the Center for Sustainable Energy Solutions (CenSE), the regional coordinator for Rogaland, Norway, explains why they joined the project and the contribution they can make to ENSEA.
CenSE’s R&D activities cover a combination of renewable energy and clean fossil-based energy, providing sustainable energy solutions with a focus on knowledge transfer from a strong petroleum sector in the region, to new energy alternatives. The energy company Lyse and County Council of Rogaland are the other partners from the triple helix in the region.
We asked Prof. Assadi why the region wanted to join the ENSEA project: ‘We have a strong energy cluster in our region and we see this project as a good way of further increasing our collaboration with other regions around the North Sea.’
The region has a number of initiatives which can contribute towards the success of ENSEA, as Prof. Assadi indicated,‘ the use of a fiber optic network for energy efficiency, end user services and intelligent methods and tools for monitoring, control and optimization, and the regional innovation system are among the strongest possible contributions we can make to the future of cross-regional collaboration. We hope these innovations will help to develop a reliable, integrated energy system in the North Sea region.’
The strength of Norway in the North Sea’s energy system is that in addition to oil and gas the country is also home to 50% of Europe’s, hydro resources, offering a flexible renewable energy source which can be exported to Europe to play a role in balancing and back-up services. Assadi emphasized that they also have very good conditions for wind energy (onshore and offshore) and biogas in the region.
When asked what results he would like to achieve when the ENSEA project has ended, Assadi said: ‘We hope that the system integration approach will contribute to solving the energy challenges around the North Sea, and bringing the partner regions closer together in addressing these challenges. The project will bring academia, public sector and companies together and strengthen our competences for addressing the energy challenges of the future.’
‘Together with the other partners of ENSEA we will create the energy solutions for the future.’
October 30, 2013
By Gert van Wijland for European Energy Review
The northern North Sea is one of Europe’s key energy regions. Surrounding regions are teaming up to bolster this position further. EER talks to initiator and director Gerrit van Werven of Energy Valley (northern Netherlands). ‘Together we have all the necessary expertise and infrastructure to kick start the transition to a sustainable system.’
Director Gerrit van Werven of Energy Valley (northern Netherlands, including North Holland North) is a busy man. He’s keen to talk about the cooperation between his foundation and other North Sea regions, but he has less time for an interview than originally planned: Henk Kamp, the Dutch minister responsible for energy, has unexpectedly swung by the north for a visit. As a tireless advocate of a major regional energy industry, Van Werven can’t afford to miss that.
He’s certain to seize the opportunity to point out the importance of the energy sector to the north, which Energy Valley sees as its key focus. And not without reason: the northern part of The Netherlands boasts Europe’s largest gas reserves and all the transport, storage and enrichment expertise that go with that. Van der Werven will also point to the presence of six major power plants in the region (some still under construction) as well as the large number of wind turbines, the bio-ethanol plants being built and several internationally recognised research institutes.
The region’s strategic location is obviously key: ‘Via Delfzijl and Den Helder we have direct access to the energy-rich North Sea, and we share a border with Lower Saxony, Germany’s green power state’, says Van Werven. ‘That’s where Germany’s sustainable energy sector is concentrated.’ To realise its plans for a single regional energy cluster Energy Valley is particularly focussed on the countries around the North Sea – although the emphasis actually lies less on national geography than on regions and areas boasting a strong energy sector. ‘There are quite a few, and the sea is what binds them together’, says Van Werven. ‘Power generation doesn’t end at the water’s edge – in fact that’s where it starts. Just look at all the offshore wind turbines and drilling rigs.’
Maintaining the balance
High time, then, for an energy partnership. It goes by the name of European North Sea Energy Alliance (ENSEA) – see panel 1. The inaugural meeting was held almost a year ago in the German town of Papenburg. ENSEA’s strength lies in combining the expertise and know-how specific to each of the member regions, enthuses Van Werven.
‘All the regions contribute their strengths and show their weaker points. Together we have all the necessary expertise, space and industrial power to develop a new system of energy.’ ENSEA’s approach is innovative in its shift of focus. Energy transition is traditionally held to mean the changeover from a reliance on fossil fuels to a completely sustainable system of power generation. That’s also ENSEA’s ultimate goal, says Van Werven, ‘but in the interim we’re aiming to maintain the balance, a balance between supply and demand. How to cope with peaks and troughs in wind and solar power, for example? That can only be achieved by integrating green power with fossil fuels and managing it as one single big energy system.’
Based on the idea that energy is an issue that transcends national borders, the regions have teamed up to bundle the work of their combined government, commercial and research institutes. The idea is to initiate additional integrated research on cross-border issues such as balancing energy, energy infrastructure, technology and innovation. The alliance was initiated by the non-profit organisation Energy Valley, based in the northern Netherlands. This organisation successfully lobbied Brussels last year for a 3 million euro subsidy within the seventh framework programme for research and innovation/technological development. The European Union granted the alliance the title ‘Region of Knowledge’ based on the combined development of knowledge and research activities worked out by research institutes, local and regional authorities and commercial partners.
Simultaneously all regions are working hard to find technical solutions designed to support the new system. The entire infrastructure is increasingly geared to this new future, says Van Werven. He points to the Energy Academy Europe (EAE), a new top institute in Energy Valley that combines education, research and innovation on energy. The Academy was initiated by Groningen University and Groningen’s Hanzehogeschool polytechnic and trains higher technical education and university students in all energy-related fields. The most important energy themes have been demarcated as gas (including biogas and green gas), energy of the future (such as wind and solar power), smart grids, energy efficiency and conservation, and carbon reduction.
Education and research
To emphasise the links with regional business there’s also an Energy College, where students with lower qualifications are trained for manual jobs in the sector. The two education programmes together attract some 3,000 students from across the world.
But the pursuit of knowledge is not only limited to these two education programmes. Van Werven sums up: ‘We have the internationally renowned Kema research institute; we lead the field in the thermo-chemical conversion of biomass; we’re developing new techniques to further boost the efficiency of natural gas production; we inject green gas into standard natural gas. There’s a huge energy industry emerging here.’ Investments of 25 billion euros are currently in the pipeline.
Most of those funds come from the business sector. In combination with research institutes and local government stimulus the sector is creating its own momentum, Van Werven says. That will happen for sure once the cooperation with the regions around the North Sea gathers pace. And it most certainly will, Van Werven predicts, for all the regions are basically grappling with the same problem: how do we strike a balance between supply and demand and what do we do with the old ‘fossil’ infrastructure that hasn’t yet been written off? ‘There’s still a lot of money in the old infrastructure and that’s why we’ve got to keep using it during the transition’, Van Werven says. ‘Accelerated writedowns would result in a massive destruction of capital. That’s why in oil exploration regions, for example, they’re looking whether it’s possible to re-use the foundations of drilling rigs for the placement of wind turbines.’
Closer to home, Van Werven believes there are huge advantages to be gained by reaching out over the river Eems to team up with neighbouring regions Lower Saxony and Bremen. Developments there are largely complementary to what’s happening in the ‘Dutch Valley’. ‘The potential is there to create a situation that’s mutually highly beneficial.’ But national politics frequently lags behind the local dynamic, Van Werven contends. Despite its strategic importance to power production, the region is still frequently treated by national government as a stepchild on the periphery, he believes. ‘National government has long regarded us as simply an extraction region rather than as a serious negotiating partner. They listen more to us in Lower Saxony than they do in The Hague.’
And then he’s off, in a bid to impress upon Minister Kamp the excellence of the regional energy sector. After all, the minister doesn’t come north often.
|ENSEA is the acronym for European North Sea Energy Alliance, a partnership of four regions clustered around the North Sea. Its principal goal is to develop and share expertise in the field of energy transition and to translate its research findings into pragmatic solutions to bolster sustainability in regional energy sectors. ENSEA participants comprise the following regions, each with its own specific expertise:
|Energy Valley was founded in 2003 as a network organisation to link up public and private partners active in the regional energy sector in the northern Netherlands. The non-profit organisation sees its mission as ‘to encourage, incite, facilitate and connect companies, knowledge institutes and government bodies to develop projects together and make real progress inclean, reliable and innovative energy.’
Energy Valley focuses on innovative energy technologies that are in line with national and international energy goals, while building on the strengths of the regional energy sector.
This sector is traditionally built around the biggest gas reserves in Europe, located in the area Energy Valley considers to be its heartland. The last decade or so has seen a strong upsurge in sustainable energy.
Energy Valley propagates an efficient transition to a new system of energy. Key aspects it mentions include:
Energy Valley is a strong advocate not only for the local energy industry in the northern Netherlands, but also for the wider region around the North Sea. It lobbies in Brussels and The Hague and seeks local partners in all the countries surrounding this energy-rich sea.
Visit and register on http://www.europeanenergyreview.eu/site/pagina.php?id=4159#artikel_4159 to read the article on the website of Europen Energy Review.
October 28, 2013
On September the 13th the regional workshop for the Dutch partners of the European North Sea Energy Alliance (ENSEA) project was held at Kaap Hoorn in Haren. On the day, several presentations were held regarding three important aspects of energy system integration; infrastructe developments in the North Sea, the development of power-to-gas technology and bio-energy. Following the presentations, attendees split into groups to discuss and debate the topics and share their expert opinions in relation to the themes covered by the presentations.
In a short welcome Gerrit van Werven, General Director of Energy Valley, emphasized the importance of this project and how it relates to the current and future sustainable energy developments taking place in and around the North Sea. Koos Lok then gave an introduction to the ENSEA project explaining its strategic role, the position of the Netherlands, the North Sea as a potential hotspot for the energy transition. He also looked forward, discussing what will be required to facilitate a much-needed integration of renewable energy resources with existing energy infrastructure.
After the introductions three presentations were held. The first, again presented by Koos Lok from the Energy Valley Foundation, covered the infrastructural developments on the North Sea; green decommissioning of existing infrastructure, underground gas storage, carbon capture and storage and supergrid developments. Then Catrinus Jepma from the Energy Delta Institute continued with a presentation about power-to-gas. He informed participants about the latest developments, the potential role for power-to-gas as a backup for intermittent renewables and possibilities for a pilot project on the North Sea. The final presentation was held by Luc Rabou from Energieonderzoek Centrum Nederland (ECN) who gave a brief analysis and overview of energy production from biomass. This included an insight into the production and use of bioenergy technologies within ENSEA partner-countries and proposed different scenarios for utilization of biomass in the future.
Following the presentations, delegates broke into two discussion groups; one group focused on green decommissioning of existing offshore energy infrastructure and power-to-gas, the other on bio-energy. Both sessions were centred around a theorem that was discussed through four perspectives; networks, utilization, human capital and public awareness. The results from these sessions will contribute towards a regional SWOT-analysis. Similar analyses are being made in the other regions participating in the ENSEA project and together will result in an interregional SWOT; with the aim of facilitating opportunities for cooperation in energy system integration in the North Sea region.
Download the Presentation ENSEA regional workshop NL – pdf 4MB.
September 9, 2013
By Jerzy Buzek / from energypost.eu
Today’s European energy market is still poorly interconnected and neither open nor competitive, writes former European Parliament President and former Prime Minister of Poland Jerzy Buzek, currently a Member of the European Parliament. Moreover, energy prices in the EU are much higher than in China and the US and are increasing. According to Burzek, a truly harmonised common energy market and coordinated investment in infrastructure are vital if Europe is to return to growth and remain competitive.
September 4, 2013
Oldenburg. Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil visited on Thursday 22 August 2013 the EWE Research Centre NEXT ENERGY in Oldenburg. He will mainly be informed about the research activities for integrated energy management systems for buildings. The SPD politician is accompanied by a high-ranking Dutch delegation, which include the Provincial Governors (“Commissioners of the King”) of the three neighboring provinces in the Netherlands.
The aim of the German-Dutch encounter will be to pave the way, together with representatives of NEXT ENERGY, the city of Oldenburg, the Oldenburg energy cluster OLEC and the President of the University of Oldenburg, Dr. Babette Simon, for more cross-border projects in energy research . Highlight of the event is the signing of a cross-border Memorandum of Understanding between OLEC, the Groninger partner network Stichting Energy Valley and the Dutch Energy Academy Europe, in the presence of Prime Minister Stephen Weil and the Dutch Consul General Dr. Hendrik Jan Voskamp.
The memorandum is, as a first step, aimed at bringing together the expertise in Energy Systems for buildings on both sides of the border. NEXT ENERGY for example is involved in the development of innovative learning approaches for energy management systems for buildings. The memorandum will further serve to deepen the cooperation in demand-driven research, education and economic use of energy. Ultimately the aim of the cooperation is to cover virtually all topics of the future energy system, from storage technologies and smart grids to electro mobility.
“The experience gained from previous projects show that cross-border integration of activities is of great importance for future European energy policy,” explains the OLEC CEO Roland Hentschel. An intensive and targeted cooperation can therefore serve as a model for other European regions.
Also the local institutes are strengthened by the cooperation, as Prof. Dr. Carsten Agert, Director of NEXT ENERGY stressed: “Lower Saxony is increasingly becoming one of the leading German states in the energy revolution. Not least because of excellent energy research that takes place at several locations in Lower Saxony. I’m really looking forward to intensify the already successful collaboration with our Dutch partners. ”
Dr. Noé van Hulst, director of the Energy Academy Europe, stressed the importance of cross border cooperation in research and education for the most needed energy transition: “To fight climate change we need more research and above all bright young people who are able to design and implement new energy systems. The challenge is far too big to do this on your own. We have much in common with the institutions and energy systems of Lower Saxony, but there are also differences, notably in energy policy. So for me it is a no-brainer that we can learn a lot from each other, and I’m very much looking forward to this cooperation.”