Leading the way, acting as a scout for a sustainable, integrated energy system is one of the roles played by ECN. In 2013, 'storage and flexibility' was chosen as the common theme for all our research programmes. The teething troubles in the field of renewable energy in Germany clearly demonstrate the urgency of this theme. It is expected that the Netherlands will have only five to ten years to develop the necessary flexibility.
Currently emerging world market offers opportunities for the Netherlands.
In anticipation of the maturation of the energy market, the Top Sector Energy (Topsector Energie) is setting aside millions for system integration studies. ECN is excellently positioned for conducting these kinds of studies, thanks to the combination of its policy expertise, model construction abilities and understanding of individual technologies. In the Top Sector Energy, the European context as well as within its own organisation, ECN will approach the demand for flexibility from different angles; for example, by systematically mapping the scale of the challenge, comparing the various possibilities for local and central energy storage or energy consumption, and by working together with the industrial sector in exploring possibilities for handling electricity and heat more efficiently.
With a thriving process industry in the Rijnmond area, a test farm for wind energy in the North Sea, ambitious projects for solar energy, and a broad-based Energy Agreement (Energieakkoord), there are several opportunities for the Netherlands in the currently emerging world market for the integration of renewable energy - provided we find our own solutions. This is the perfect time to develop hardware and expertise that are suitable for the local situation, but which also offer benefits for very different corners of the world. ECN is happy to take on this challenge.