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Skip to 0 minutes and 15 seconds And I want to look with you at how can a specific energy system of one country actually change over time? And what are the choices that could be made? And I will do that by using the Netherlands and as an example. And for [INAUDIBLE] here, in this graphic, you see the current energy balance, the energy flows through the economy. And there is one key characteristic of the Dutch energy system today, and that is this fully dominated by the use of fossil fuels. The blue flows are natural gas. So the Netherlands today is a gas producer, a situation that this going to change on medium terms. So that gas flow, in terms of own production, will diminish.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 seconds And further, there is a big throughput of, for example, oil and oil products, because the Netherlands has major sea harbours that also have large-scale refining capacity. And those products are then exported, again, to other countries. The Netherlands today has about 4% off renewable energy in the total energy mix. So it is really a completely fossil fuel-dominated system, and therefore also a major challenge to change. On top of that, the fossil fuel energy infrastructure is very well developed. Now in this graphic, you see a wide range of different possible futures for the energy system of the Netherlands. Here depicted in petajoules primary energy for different options.

Skip to 1 minute and 44 seconds So the total energy use of the Netherlands is somewhat over 3,000 petajoules, or over 3 exajoules. And on the left-hand side, you see a range of scenarios that are business as usual, without real interventions. And there you really see diverging views. So energy use can still grow. Emissions can still grow, more use of fossil fuels. On the right-hand side, you see a number of different visions, if you want, according to different institutions, calculations, and models that are sometimes very optimistic about how strong energy efficiency can be improved. So that can lead to a strong reduction, absolute reduction, in energy use. Other scenarios lean more, for example, on renewable energy, like wind or bioenergy, but there’s strong variation.

Skip to 2 minutes and 30 seconds And other scenarios say, well, it will still be fossil fuels on a large scale, but we will achieve those emission reductions with carbon capture and storage. You can imagine that that will have severe consequences for the type of infrastructure, the type of energy production capacity, the type of technologies that need to be installed. And those diverging views don’t make life easier. So you need to make choices and you may want to base them, for example, on economic considerations, or other sustainability considerations, maybe policy choices. In the next graphic, you see some more details, again with the same diversity in views and more so again on how is the energy use actually cost by key setters?

Skip to 3 minutes and 13 seconds And also there, the studies diverge considerably. In the case of the Netherlands, the dark blue part in energy use is important. There is a strong industrial energy use, partly explained, for example, by petrochemical industry that dislodge for export, but also, on the right-hand side of the graphic, strongly variable energy demands for the build environments and also a wide range for transport. And all that depends, on the one hand, on what technologies are used. On the other hand, also assumptions on what economic activity is assumed. So in transport, for example, well you keep leaning on individual car use? Or will you shift more to public transport? For industry, is it will you maintain a large heavy industry?

Skip to 3 minutes and 56 seconds Or will you assume that you import. But that will mean that energy use and emissions are moved to other countries, so that is not a net saving. So looking at underlying assumptions, you see here the wide variability in different studies, and therefore also beliefs on what may happen in the future. Looking at the graphic, you see still a strong divergence for a country like this in GDP growth. Also still, in population figures. And in the middle, a very big uncertainty and maybe also volatility in energy prices. So gas prices, oil prices, but also biomass prices can vary strongly in the future. And of course, that will influence what technologies are more attractive than others.

Skip to 4 minutes and 39 seconds So those are key considerations for how an energy system may develop, or how flexible you want it to be. And on the right-hand side, you see what divergence in total energy use may be the result. And our next graphic shows the final results, of course, what we are looking for– reduction in emissions, in CO2 emissions. That’s not the only result. Usually lowering CO2 emissions can result in lower other air emissions as well, but you may need more space. For example, for your wind parks or for your biomass production. So those considerations also come into play. And it is the difference between being on a completely unsustainable pathway and a pathway that will meet the criteria that we have discussed earlier.

Skip to 5 minutes and 24 seconds 80% productions or further on a global scale. It is important to understand that a national energy system is usually not standing in itself. In the case of the Netherlands, the energy system is part of a larger Northwestern European energy system depicted by those graphics. And many things are changing in that entire region. Fossil fuel production is in decline in the North Sea, and is in a way replaced by renewable energy infrastructure, integrated grids, grid connectors, more wind offshore, solar energy capacity, and that means we’re looking at a more integrated total system. The key message here is that changing an energy system, whether it’s national or larger, will depend on the specifics of that system over time.

Skip to 6 minutes and 7 seconds What technologies are possible, feasible, what infrastructure is there today, what can be developed tomorrow, and also policy choices. To help you on analysing your own national energy system, the background material provides basic information on energy balances of countries worldwide, and also, a technology database to look at the different possibilities.

Different technologies and pathways over time in specific regions

In this video, André Faaij will show you that specific regional conditions influence the possibilities and potentials for different regions.

In the discussion about the potential for renewable energy technologies later on, you will be asked to focus on your own region or country. Bear this in mind when watching this video and try to take away information that you think applies to your case. The article in the next step will provide you with more data sources.

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Solving the Energy Puzzle: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Energy Transition

University of Groningen