Enabling the energy transition through collaboration and knowledge sharing

Joan van Kessel, General Manager Van Kessel

With some 100 employees, 40 gas stations, and a fleet of 26 tankers, Van Kessel is a leading player in the oil market in the South and West of the Netherlands. The company supplies sustainable fuels and expertise to businesses looking to make their vehicle fleets or machinery more sustainable. Van Kessel is a member of Energy Cooperative Zeus U.A. which  aims to shape the energy transition and serve as a platform for knowledge sharing and advice.

“Ultimately, we all need to go green. However, transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable sources takes time, effort, and money, which leads to procrastination. Everything that can be tackled jointly is a huge bonus, and benefits everyone involved. That is why Van Kessel likes to participate in a wide variety of programs for the exchange of knowledge. Such as the ‘Green Transport Delta‘ innovation program for the automotive, maritime and aviation sectors. In a project with VNO-NCW in Deurne, we looked at combining energy carriers, so that you can determine which one can be used most economically at any given time. Energy Cooperative Zeus, with its pooled knowledge and experience, aims to accelerate the energy transition. Solutions devised for one challenge can be applied elsewhere.

Enabling the energy transition

“In the energy transition, we also have to realize that certain things are simply not possible. We have to learn to deal with the fact that the yield of renewable sources fluctuates enormously, from day to day, and between seasons. That’s why, for example, we can’t get rid of gas yet, and for the time being, we will have to strategically rely on sources such as nuclear energy to make the energy transition possible.”

“We are very happy to help you find solutions to such issues. In Milheeze, for instance, we’ve allocated space for individuals’ and small businesses’ solar panels. We’re also exploring options for local businesses to exchange energy and heat in a semi-closed system. Additionally, we’re advising on solar panel placement along the A73 road and part of the 400-hectare airfield in De Peel. It’s crucial that military facilities can be self-sufficient during times of crisis but can also open up their installations for civilian use in peacetime. However, clarity regarding the land at the Peel Airport is needed: does it have a certain value as a landscape, is it designated for agriculture, or would it be suitable for a solar park?”

Close collaboration with the government is essential

“Energy storage and imports from abroad are becoming increasingly important.

What is the most efficient way to do that? At which places in the chain can you best convert energy into another form? Every transition between energy carriers and every transport comes at a cost.

It is, therefore, also vital that energy generated locally is used locally as much as possible. It is therefore important that energy that is generated locally is used locally as much as possible. But not every form of energy can be optimally generated or stored in every region. In the province Drenthe, for example, hydrogen storage isn’t an issue, but in Brabant the situation is different. There, for example, you could look at the possibilities for thermal energy. If grid congestion persists, energy costs increase, and emission regulations become stricter, different parties are going to look for ways of maximizing existing installations’ efficiency and manage electricity smarter. As a result, people will become more aware of scarcity.”

“The electrical sector is becoming more and more complex. Expecting the government to possess all the necessary expertise is simply unrealistic. It’s crucial for the government to consult external parties extensively and act on their advice. We, for example, can explain how to effectively use alternating and direct current and convert between these with minimal losses. However, someone at the municipality must be ready to act right away. Ideally, this would be someone who really understands the topic and sees its importance. This person should also have a mandate – or at least a high level of autonomy. There has to be a certain level of trust. If a well-researched plan is submitted, it needs to be taken up quickly. When companies or individuals come up with initiatives, the local or national government should not ignore them, or start up long and complicated formal processes. In that case, they will end up losing a lot of support, which is very difficult to get back. I fear that urgency is sometimes lacking – whereas we should be solving problems together.”


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