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Successful “Renewable Fuels” workshop

Renewable electricity is a hot topic in the world of sustainable technology. More and more industrial parties as well as universities and research institutes are looking for methods to convert (excess) renewable electricity into fuels. To present and discuss the latest developments, identify challenges and take a deeper look into the future role of renewable fuels, TMC in cooperation with DIFFER (the Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research) and TU/e Strategic Area Energy organized an inspiring “Renewables fuels” workshop in the brand-new and highly sustainable research building of DIFFER.

In the evening of the 26th of November over 90 participants gathered at DIFFER, located at the TU/e campus. Prior to the workshop, a small group of 20 persons had taken the opportunity of getting a lab tour through the DIFFER building and its research facilities. Ranging from TMC Employeneurs, employees of DIFFER, delegates of several industrial parties and enterprises, universities and research centers, the participants were interested in the latest developments in the area of renewable fuels. Joeri Voets, Director of TMC West, started the workshop with an introduction: ‘In this workshop we will take a deeper look into current technological developments and challenges of fuels and chemicals produced from renewable energy. To illustrate this, we have invited nine speakers from academia and industrial companies who will give their perspectives on “how to produce fuels using renewable electricity”.’

Academic and industrial perspective

After explaining the focus of the workshop, Joeri introduced Richard van de Sanden, the director of DIFFER, who presented an academic perspective on renewable fuels. Richard explained how DIFFER contributes with innovative research to technologies to store and convert renewable energy in CO2-neutral fuels and chemicals. Thereafter, Martijn Mulder (HyET), Rik Vreys (Hydrogenics) and Jan-Willem Tolkamp (SOLIDpower) took the opportunity to present their views on the subject in five-minute pitches. After a short dinner break the workshop continued with a presentation of Jaco Reijerkerk, Business Development Manager at Linde Gas Benelux and main proponent of the industrial perspective. He explained how Linde Gas delivers the technologies and infrastructural innovations needed to speed up the development of clean, hydrogen-powered personal mobility and hydrogen-based energy storage. Jaco’s presentation was followed by pitches of Volker Hessel (TU/e), Martijn de Graaff (TNO, Voltachem), Hans Niemantsverdriet (SyngasChem BV) and Gunther Kolb (TU/e). Conclusion of both the academic and industrial perspectives: the necessity in a fully integrated system to convert (excess) renewable electricity into fuels is high and there are a lot of challenges to meet on the short and long term timescales. Both branches are developing promising ideas to tackle the issue and to provide solutions for renewable fuels.

Multidisciplinary is key

At the end of the workshop the guests had the opportunity to discuss the pitches, to share information and to gain new interesting contacts. ‘We have noticed that "converting renewable electricity into fuels" is a hot topic in sustainable technology,’ Sibe Mennema, TMC Employeneur and initiator of this workshop explains. ‘That’s why we decided to organise this workshop. Since the topic involves multiple disciplines, the workshop perfectly matches with TMC’s mission to deploy multidisciplinary technical expertise in order to address challenges in the area of renewable energy technology. In DIFFER and TU/e we found a partner to organise this workshop with and we hope to set up more related workshops in the near future.’ Erik Langereis, Research Development Officer and initiator of the event at DIFFER adds: ‘as a research institute we inspire others in searching for ways to make their business activities more sustainable, knowing what future technologies are currently being investigated and developed. By connecting the ideas and needs of industrial parties, universities and research institutes, we have been able to share our knowledge and build a network of renewable energy partners. Looking at the number of participants and the discussions, we can conclude that it was a very successful workshop!’

Background information topic

The spatial and temporal intermittency (daily and seasonal) of renewable electricity from sun and wind triggers the necessity for various energy storage options to match supply and demand in a sustainable energy system. Notwithstanding the progress on battery development and the clear role of electrical storage options in the power grid system, renewable fuels and chemicals will play an important role with respect to large-scale seasonal storage of renewable electricity, fuels for long distance transport and mobility – and sustainable feedstock for chemical industries. To this end, innovative power-to-gas technologies are required to convert CO2 and H2O in a sustainable, cost- and resource-effective way into synthetic (liquid) fuels and chemical building blocks.

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