Energy veteran Cees Steendijk has been International Business Development Manager Energy Transition at Strukton for two years.

On behalf of Strukton, he is also supporting moves for a better climate. In this blog he explains how he's doing that.

It's December 2015. In Paris, 195 countries sign a historic climate agreement. This agreement stipulates among other things that in 2100 the average temperature on the planet may not have risen more than 2 degrees Celsius compared with 1990. An energy transition is therefore required: fossil fuels must make way for sustainable electricity.

Because scientists all over the world agree that the climate systems on Earth will become seriously disrupted if the temperature were to rise on average more than 2 degrees. The polar ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica are melting and sea levels are rising. For the Netherlands, that has disastrous consequences. Utrecht by the Sea is certainly not an impossible idea.

"There's a big red cloud over the Randstad. Very alarming"

But the problem isn't just in the water - it's also literally in the air. If you look at NASA's satellite pictures, you can see red areas above some cities. These indicate a high level of nitrogen dioxide, a poisonous gas produced by traffic and heavy industry. If you inhale it, you can suffer respiratory problems and asthma attacks. Those red clouds on NASA's maps are visible above some Chinese cities, as well as over London. And there's a big red cloud over the Randstad. Which I think is very alarming.

"Only a tiny 6 percent of all the energy we produce in the Netherlands is sustainable"

Only 14 percent

With all those worrying facts, you'd think that the Netherlands would be doing its utmost to become more sustainable. But not so. Only a tiny 6 percent of all the energy we produce in the Netherlands is sustainable. To compare: It's 30 percent in Germany.

Unsurprisingly, the Netherlands received a reprimand from the EU Commissioner for Energy at the beginning of February. He feels that the Netherlands is not investing enough in sustainable energy and that it risks not achieving its national climate target in 2020 - 14 percent of the total energy consumption is sustainable. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Economic Affairs doesn't seem concerned. According to caretaker Minister Kamp, that 14 percent is easy to achieve.

Dutch industry thinks differently. And what's more: even if that 14 percent is achieved, it's only 14 percent. That percentage isn't ambitious enough, in my opinion. That's also the opinion of the Transition Coalition, an association of more than 55 Dutch top companies, including Strukton. The energy transition must be achieved faster and more ambitiously, and that needs political willingness. There's no lack of innovations and ideas, so that's no excuse.

Sustainable concepts worldwide

It's not surprising that Strukton has joined the Transition Coalition. We are willing and able to help. At Strukton too, we have lots of sustainable projects and innovations to our name. Tidal energy, offshore transformer platforms for wind parks, special asphalt on the A15 from which you can get energy, the SolaRoad in Krommenie, Strukton Pulse where Worksphere makes building installations more efficient and energy efficient - the list is long. Strukton's sister companies are also working hard on sustainability. Consultancy firm Antea is involved in numerous sustainable projects and ICT company Centric is developing a smart grid for the use of smart energy. At Dutch Solar Systems, sustainability is naturally in their DNA.


"We can convert stations into an energy hub"

Hence, there's no lack of knowledge and experience relating to sustainability. The next step is to look for multidisciplinary, sustainable concepts which we can continually apply all over the world. For entire business parks, for example. These must be energy neutral in 2021. And for infrastructure. We can make bridges and locks energy neutral, for example by capturing the energy which is released when closing a bridge and using it when the bridge is opened again. Buildings and homes can generate energy in a sustainable way - via wind and solar energy, for example. Strukton Worksphere already has a wealth of experience in this field. And finally stations, which can also serve as an energy hub in the future. For example, we can build facilities to store braking energy which can charge electric buses.

Barack Obama's tweet

As you can see, Strukton and our sister companies are ready. I very much hope that the political parties that are currently negotiating a new cabinet formation feel the same urgency as the Transition Coalition. Remember former president Barack Obama's tweet from three years ago: We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.

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