After 3 years, we can say it, it happened again and it was a success! On the 17th of May 2022, about 300 students and professionals met in the Philips Stadion in Eindhoven to discuss the actual developments in the energy transition, and more specifically the future of urban energy systems. With 20 given workshops, the participants had the choice to join a company case closely related to their interests. Next to that, speakers such as Heleen de Coninck, co-writer at the IPCC, Devin Diran, researcher at TNO, Rik Thijs, elderman of Eindhoven for GroenLinks, former Energy Now organizer Rein Westerdijk co-founder of the startup Taylor and many others. After an exhausting, yet inspiring day it was time to relax, have a few drinks with each other and make contact to bring the energy transition to the next step! See you next year Energy Now!
The future of our cities depends on the decisions we make about our energy now. From where it is sourced to how it is consumed will determine our living environment for generations to come. As a species we depend on energy in every aspect of our lives and by 2045 the world’s urban population will have reached 6 billion. This exponential growth of city-dwellers will present one of the major challenges of the coming century. How can we provide the required energy while accommodating for this increased urban expansion and energy consumption while transforming already existing infrastructure to reduce emissions and prevent further global warming? By adopting novel technology and methodologies into our urban energy systems we can make them digitalised, decentralised and decarbonised.
The developments in digital technologies over the last decades have changed our societies fundamentally. From the ways in which we learn, teach and work to our methods of communication and experiential interaction with the world around us. The potential of further digitalising elements of our energy systems, mobility and urban environment are seemingly limitless. Using data to predict consumption and maintenance in our energy systems, heating and cooling in our buildings or even traffic and disruptions in our mobility sector can all reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency. These technologies however also pose issues to sustainability in themselves. Resource consumption and emissions from internet usage are challenges to address in order to digitalise our society in a way not detrimental to its future.
Human activity has always resulted in the emission of CO2. It is a primary product of our basic biological processes. These emissions had always been in balance with the photosynthetic processes of other organisms in the natural world. However, once humans developed combustion processes and accelerated its use during the industrial revolution, the relationship between emission and absorption fell out of sync. This resulted in the accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide, leading to what we refer to now as the greenhouse effect. To prevent further warming and altering of our climates it is essential that we reduce and ultimately eliminate the activities which emit carbon. This is decarbonisation and this is a cornerstone of securing the future of our ecosystems.
The conventional method of energy distribution whereby a central power plant distributes energy via a national grid was logical when energy production was a complex and polluting process. However, with technological innovation in the sector, it is easier than ever for individuals and communities as a whole to generate their own energy to be distributed on decentralised micro-grids. The encouragement of local energy production will accelerate the energy transition while simultaneously increasing awareness in communities about its production and consumption. This decentralisation principle can also be applied to shared mobility and incorporated into the ways in which we design our urban environment. All contributing to reduced consumption, increased efficiency and a greater sense of community.
More than innovative technological solutions or discoveries of novel energy sources, sustainable cities need sustainable people. Our audience, students from around the brabant region, will be catalysts of change in re-defining how we live in, act for, and exist in the built environment around us. The crises predicted before the end of this century are a consequence of the short-sightedness of our predecessors. It is up to each and every one of us now, to educate, inspire and activate our generation. Initiating a collective effort that maximises on the knowledge and innovativeness of humanity is the only way that we can truly have sustainable cities of the future for generations to come.
Energy Now 2022 was supported by the energy learning community. You can find more information on their project on https://www.project-elc.nl/
This event would not have been possible without the Energy Now committee, and Team Energy more generally. Here is the 2022 Commission, from left to right:
Zënas Felipa – Treasurer
Joep Jan Meerdink – Acquisition
Ilse van Deventer – Chair
Bruno van Leeuwen – Planning and Logistics
David Melamed – Acquisition
Robin Brett van Steen – Promotion
Liam Geschwindt – Program & Content