Energy Academy off to a good start

24 sep 2012

For the kick-off event of the Energy Academy Europe, the Atrium in the Van Olstoren was completely packed with students, stakeholders and representatives from businesses, partner institutes and local government. Smoothly presented by moderator Charles Groenhuijsen, guiding the audience through the many speakers and short interviews, the afternoon got the Academy off to a good start.

But if there was one message to take away from the event, it was that the ones who will be off to a good start are the young people choosing to study energy. Several speakers and films highlighted the exciting career opportunities that lie ahead for them. Academy director Noé van Hulst emphasised the dual challenge of producing more energy while reducing CO2-emissions. The solution to this, he said, will have to come from the younger generation. He expressed the EAE’s ambition to increase the number of students tenfold over the next decade. 

Van Hulst also announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Energy Green Board, which consists of a number of organisations at the heart of the energy transition debate. The MoU highlights the need to link the energy transition with wider issues in society. Earlier, the Academy had signed similar agreements  with TNO and ECN in the areas of education and applied research.  The Academy is also forging stronger links with technical universities in the Netherlands and is actively seeking cooperation with partners across the globe.

The right place
Several speakers remarked on the north of the Netherlands and especially Groningen as being the right place for an international hotspot of energy excellence. With a strong cluster of knowledge institutes in the region, such as the Energy Delta Institute, the University of Groningen, the Hanze University and the Energy College, Groningen is the energy capital of the Netherlands. It is the place where education, research and energy businesses come together. The Energy Academy is a logical next step or – as it was put – the idea of the Academy was the answer to so many questions.

Gerrit van Werven, director of the Energy Valley said he expected significant growth in employment in energy in the region and beyond and told students that if they study energy, he can guarantee them a good job for the coming years.  But studying energy is not just all about jobs. A number of elevator pitches by three start-ups (Water and Energy Solutions, Sunrenity and Light Sensation) demonstrated that if you have a good idea, you can turn it into your own business. The young entrepreneurs served as inspiring examples. Inspiration also came from the adventurer and scientist Bertrand Piccard in a short film, in which he talked about his Solar Impulse Programme. His life story tells us that if we set our minds to it, we can achieve anything.

Private sector
Mark Dierikx, Director-General Energy at the ministry of Economic Affairs, stressed the importance of education in the energy system. He added that there were two key drivers: cooperation between universities and research institutes (at an international level as well) and cooperation with the private sector.  Professor Marco Aiello spoke about smart grids and the need for new experts as a revolution comparable to the telecom/ internet revolution may be on our doorstep in energy. He reminded the Energy Academy to keep thinking BIG. That is exactly what Gertjan Lankhorst , CEO of Gasterra, has done for a long time. He was credited for being the founding father of the Academy. He said he had always felt the need to create something where the debate and knowledge of energy could improve. The Academy is the right place for it, he said.

Via a live link the audience was taken to EnTranCe, the test site of the Academy, nearby at the Zernike complex. With access to testing facilities and expertise and crucially, links with the market, it is the ideal place to develop ideas into energy products. Students were encouraged to join the Energy Academy Club, the platform for bringing together students and companies. Towards the end of the afternoon a public vote was taken on the new slogan for the Academy. Energy Academy Europe: share your energy! was the winning slogan. After this successful kick-off event the hard work now starts, but the Energy Academy got off to a good start!

Bron: Energy Academy Europe