East Netherlands


SMEs frontrunners in Energy storage and management solutions

Impressions and results of Th!nk East Netherlands event in Brussels, October 9. Take a look at  the presentations. Watch the aftermovie.

Smart &  Sustainable Industry –  EU Week of Cities and Regions

Date: 9 October 2019

Location: Dutch Permanent Representation, Brussels

Organised by:  Cleantech Regio, Provincie Gelderland, Provincie Overijssel, Regio Achterhoek, Regio Arnhem Nijmegen, Regio Twente, Regio Zwolle, Th!nk East Netherlands

With: Rogier Elshout (Moderator), Ronald van Roeden (Deputy representative of the permanent representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the European Union), Jan van Dellen (vice mayor of Arnhem, Economy Chair Arnhem Nijmegen City Region), Mark van Stiphout (Deputy Head of Unit New energy Technologies, innovation and clean coal), Tom Berendsen (MEP and member of the ITRE Committee), Eddy van Hijum (Regional minister of Overijssel), Els Sweeney-Bindels (European Investment Bank), Arne Richters (Allego), Arjen Heinen & Marjanne Heinen (Hedgehog), Bert de Groot (BCTN), Rob van der Sluis (MTSA), Richard van Leeuwen & Raphaël van der Velde (Release Consortium), Guido Dalessi (Elestor), Frank van de Hoek (Bredenoord), Herbert Berkhout (SoundEnergy), Elisabeth Rompa Sinke & Pierre Serkine (InnoEnergy), Inez Rensink (senior policy officer, City of Arnhem), Mirela Atanasia (Head of Unit Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking), Brittney Elzarei (Senior Policy Officer European Association for Storage of Energy), Sophie van Eck (Energy Attachée of the permanent representation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the European Union).


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Energy Transition, an urgent matter

It is clear that this event on Energy Storage and Management Solutions comes very timely. “I want Europe to be the frontrunner. I want Europe to be the exporter of knowledge, technologies and best practice,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen stated when presenting her new team and structure for the European Commission last September. With these words, she emphasized the Commission’s goal for Europe to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent.

Energy storage solutions are essential in the transition to a fully sustainable an clean supply of energy. Solar and wind energy can only be constantly used when sufficient energy storage and smart grids are available. This provides the necessary flexibility in energy supply and demand. In line with the European Commission’s visions for the European industry in 2030, technology, digitalization and the focus on sustainability are of great importance for boosting Europe’s competitiveness in this sector. Storage solutions can be found in batteries and alternative fuels such as hydrogen, and the East Netherlands is host to many innovative SMEs and researchers in this field. 

Energy Storage and Management Solutions are an indispensable component for the energy system of the future. Yet, there is not one solution that fits all, a large variety of innovations is needed. On October 9th Th!nk East Netherlands brought together key players, such as EU officials, regional and national stakeholders, SMEs and European funding agencies, to share views, policy, innovations and best practices. In order to open new doors for innovators to continue contributing to the energy transition. The plenary session focused on European ambitions and policies. Followed by three workshops, focusing on mobility-related solutions, hydrogen, and batteries. Showcasing the regional efforts to build European projects for energy storage solutions and smart grids.


The energy transition is evident – so are the challenges for the storage and management

“The energy transition is happening and it brings new challenges in the storage.” With these words, moderator Rogier Elshout opened the plenary session. Innovations made in the East Netherlands offer solutions. The next step is to implement and scale these innovation. For this  cooperation between sectors and regions is crucial.

Regional innovations in the form of start-ups and SME’s play an essential role. This is because the energy transition begins at a local level, as emphasized in his welcome words by  Ronald van Roeden, Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU. To realize the EU’s ambitions to reduce 55% of its CO2 emission, it is important to implement that innovative force as fast as possible on a larger scale. Furthermore, the emphasis of regional innovations and the scaling up through cooperation, corresponds to the European Commission’s goal to increase Europe’s competitiveness and to create employment, growth, and inclusiveness.

He refers to different roles of the European institutions. These ambitions can be traced back to the European policies regarding energy transition and energy storage. The European Parliament’s commission on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE-commission), for example, stimulates all enterprises within Europe’s internal market in growth and development. All eyes are on the new European Commission and its ambition for a Green New Deal for Europe. This aims to set out multiple pillars that contribute to all facets of sustainability, from climate protection to economic growth and democratization.

Moreover, the EU’s legislation facilitates the possibilities for large scale energy storage and supports, through research and industrial policy, the development of storage solutions such as battery and hydrogen production. The EU has adopted new rules for its electricity market, which promotes the integration of storage within the electricity system. For example, customers that own storage facilities can buy and sell electricity from the grid and offer services such as flexible demand and frequency control. The electricity regulation sets out the market design, which puts storage on an equal footing with generation and demand response. This restricts the ownership and operation of storage facilities to transmission and distribution system operators.

The new rules for the EU electricity market facilitate the integration of storage within the electricity system. The Electricity Directive gives customers the right to participate in the electricity market. The European Parliament supported the reform of the electricity market on a technology-neutral basis, to facilitate the integration of renewables, storage and demand response.


East Netherlands as the hub for multiple solutions

Deputy major of Arnhem Jan Van Dellen opened the plenary session and states that all capacities are needed. Mission-driven research and innovative SME’s are the backbone for economic development. Cooperation with all sectors is crucial for the right funding, regulation, and implementation to the market.The region East Netherlands acts as an incubator for research and technology to tackle energy storage challenges that come with the energy transition. Actors in the quadruple helix are involved, showing that there is not one single solution to tackle this societal challenge.

The following panel session showed the multiple perspectives relevant for the energy transition. Mr. Mark van Stiphout, deputy head of the European Commission’s Unit for New Energy Technology, Innovation and Clean Coal of DG energy, explained that, now that many solutions are available, the creation of business cases is needed. For that, societal transformation is needed around Europe, as the energy transition is the combination of decarbonization, decentralization, and digitalization. Therefore, interregional cooperation is necessary.


Invest in SMEs as essentials parts of the Strategic European Value Chains

Tom Berendsen, Member of the European Parliament and member of the Committee on Industry, Research, and Energy, emphasized the important role for politicians to play for a integral energy transition across Europe. The importance of multiple energy storage solutions and smart grids to make the energy transition possible has to be high on the political agenda in all regions. Therefore, funds to create a shared European vision are needed. Eddy van Hijum, Regional Minister of Overijssel, stated that the East Netherlands as a region is currently building the industrial value chains of the future with industrial SME’s. The backbone of the regional economy is formed by SMEs. He emphasizes the importance of research and development. In the European industrial policy and its Strategic European Value Chains this asks for support to all actors in the value chain, including suppliers and enablers. He also advocates place based innovation. Innovation takes place in regions. This means that targeted European actions are needed to strengthen the regional market for it to be more competitive and attract new business development. It also calls for the right set of European regulation for creating a new market and stimulating market entry. Lastly, he calls for attention for skills.

To conclude the plenary session, Ms Els Sweeney-Binde from the European Investment Bank explained about the possibilities for funding. Also other programs such as Horizon 2020 were discussed. These programmes aim to increase the impact by financing state of the art projects.  Thus, together with increased connections between regions, cross-overs, and technological areas, a bright future for energy storage awaits. During the workhops also other funding opportunities from InnoEnergy, Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking and European Association for Storage of Energy were presented.

In this interactive plenary session the audience gave their opinion via mentimeter and contributed to a lively debate. The mayor of Enschede Onno van Veldhuizen was quite clear about the importance of interregional cooperation in the field of batteries. An example of an important development in the field of batteries is the establishment of a large scale pilotfactory for batteries at the MEET Institute in Munster, Germany. The region will actively work together cross-border in the fields of battery battery management, smart grids as well as battery safety. Together with the University of Twente and SMEs the interregional hub function will be strengthened.


Workshop: Mobility-related solutions as a force behind energy storage and management

The second part of the event was dedicated to highlighting the many solutions for energy storage and management available – and needed. During one of the parallel sessions, mobility-related solutions from East Netherlands were showcased.

The transport sector is the only European sector in which greenhouse gas emissions have risen since 1990. The electrification of this sector is therefore key to meet the decarbonization goals. This electrification, however, creates new consumption patterns and business models. On the other hand, it opens the possibility for innovative connections between the energy and transport sectors that can lead to new cost-reducing and sustainable energy storage systems.

East Netherlands is host to several enterprises that focus on mobility-related solutions for energy storage and management. Three of them presented their ideas regarding this topic during the sessions. Allego started by presenting its smart charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. The company has a passion and drive for zero emission mobility. It is working on a pan-European smart location planning, which prevents traffic and congestion. And its 14,000 charging stations across Europe make sustainable transportation a viable option for all.

That mobility is multifunctional and can be used creatively to store and manage energy is shown by Apeldoorn-based company Hedgehog. The company connects large batteries with railroads to regenerate energy from braking electric trains. This energy can then be used to recharge electric buses and cars. Furthermore, the company aims for new overhead lines on trainrails that can be used as smart new energy grids, taking energy efficiency to the next level.

The strategy of BCTN showcases yet another aspect of the potential of mobility in energy storage and management. The company stimulates energy efficiency and CO2 reduction by focusing on electric and hydrogen-based barge transportation. The battery is applicable on containerships as well, promoting the use of emission-free transportation on water. This also reduces congestion on the roads, making the SME’s solution not only efficient energy-wise but infrastructural wise as well. For its method, BCTN received the Lean and Green award.

The three innovative companies showed that both existing and pioneering forms of infrastructure go hand in hand in the management of sustainable energy.


Workshop: Hydrogen innovations in and outside East Netherlands

There was also a large interest from the audience for the parallel session on hydrogen. Hydrogen as an enabler of the clean energy transition is gaining in prominence. This is largely due to its capacity to contribute to the decarbonization of sectors in which electrification is challenging and because of hydrogen’s ability to capture and store energy. This storage potential is especially beneficial for power grids, as hydrogen can store large quantities of renewable energy sources for long periods. It can, therefore, improve the flexibility of existing energy systems and, Europe’s energy efficiency.

To highlight East Netherland’s leading position in research and innovation in hydrogen, both MTSA and the Release Consortium (consisting of Engineering Agency Witteveen & Bos and Saxion University of Applied Sciences) held pitches about their work. MTSA focuses on making green hydrogen out of wind power. Meeting the increasing demand for sustainable energy is one of the major challenges of our time. Sustainable energy sources such as solar, wind, and biomass are becoming more important but are still relatively small-scale and decentralized, and are not immediately compatible with the existing energy infrastructure.

This requires innovative solutions. MTSA’s technology can be adopted in systems of all sizes, for example as emergency power facilities at remote locations, mobile practices, and industrial use. In this way, sustainable energy is available constantly.

The Release Consortium consisting of Witteveen & Bos and Saxion is an excellent example of how different parties combined lead to concrete solutions. Witteveen & Bos is an consultancy that advises companies in the creation of safe, livable, and accessible spaces with adequate clean water and sustainable energy provision. Saxion University of Applied Sciences is renowned for its research on energy storage solutions and uses this experience and knowledge to stimulate innovation. Together, this collaboration focuses on cost-effective hydrogen production, research and testing of energy technology, and scalable redox flow batteries, showing the many applications for hydrogen in the energy transition.


Workshop: Energy storage and management, powered by Batteries

“Everything is about energy. Energy provides people with a comfortable life and keeps the economy running,” according to Bredenoord, one of the SME’s that gave a pitch during the parallel session focused on the potential of batteries for energy storage and management. Batteries can integrate renewables in our energy systems and therefore “green” the industry and transport sectors. They have the potential to boost EU’s industrial leadership and they are likely to play a crucial role in the embracing of e-mobility and home energy storage.

Three companies from East Netherlands pitched their battery-related solutions to an diverse audience. Bredenoord has developed battery-based generators that can store sustainable energy and can be placed at remote locations. The company thus increases the availability and accessibility of sustainable energy. Elestor, another East Netherlands-based innovative SME, has the mission to cut the cost of electricity. The SME has created a flow battery, operating on bromine and hydrogen, that stores electricity efficiency, affordably, and sustainably.

The third regional SME that presented was SoundEnergy. This company has developed a system that transitions waste heat into cooling. It captures heat in VTC-panels to facilitate heat throughout the year. Its technology is unique since it produces no chemical fluids, is financial competitive to other existing solutions and leads to the reduction of gas consumption. In conclusion, the session showed how three SME’s have three unique takes on how to incorporate batteries to a competitive and sustainable energy market.


Audience’s perspective on Energy Transition 

 During the Th!nkEast Netherland’s session on Energy Storage & Management Solutions, the audience was interactively participating by answering questions via Menti-meter. These questions helped to map-out the audience and to establish how they think about the energy transition. Opinions differed, especially for the question how EU-money should be allocated to stimulate the energy-transition, showing yet again multiple perspectives on the complexity of the topic. See all the results.  


Call to action: Support and scale the different solutions for energy storage and smart grids

The event showed that there is not a single solution that makes the energy transition possible, but that many solutions and multiple perspectives are essential to make Europe sustainable, competitive and fair, and to realize its ambitions. A lot of work has to be done and all involved actors have to learn and react fast, as this transition affects all. Cross-sector and interregional cooperation is, therefore, crucial. The event was closed by deputy mayor of Arnhem, Jan van Dellen and regional minister of Overijssel, Eddy van Hijum. They concluded that to accomplish European CO2 neutrality in 2050, sufficient funding and investments are needed to support innovation in SMEs in shaping the European Strategic Value Chains. Investment in skills are essential. And is it necessary to accelerate the scaling up  of new and proven technologies rapidly.  So many solutions can contribute to this single mission.





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