Hogeschool van Amsterdam

THE FUTURE: 100% FOSSIL-FREE ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION AT AUAS

Centre of Expertise Urban Technology to enter into long-term strategic partnership with Vattenfall

16 Nov 2020 00:00 | Centre for Applied Research Technology

The Centre of Expertise Urban Technology of Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) is entering into a ten-year partnership with the energy provider Vattenfall in order to work towards 100% fossil-free energy consumption in all AUAS buildings. In addition, as a professional practice partner, Vattenfall offers urgent issues that will help determine a long-term teaching and research line, allowing AUAS to take serious steps in terms of sustainability and the energy transition. ‘The findings of our studies will serve as examples for the future energy system of the Netherlands.’

‘The partnership actually consists of two parts,’ Nicole de Vries, the new business manager at Vattenfall, explains to Energeia . ‘We provide electricity, to the amount of 68 GWh worth of wind energy per year, generated in the Netherlands. In addition, there will be cooperation in the area of research and knowledge sharing.’ In concrete terms, this means that both Vattenfall and AUAS will be freeing up time to share knowledge on current social issues. ‘The long-term partnership fits in perfectly with the ambitions of our Centre of Expertise regarding strategically linking sustainability and the energy transition with professional practice,’ says Andrea Haker, the Urban Technology programme manager.

RESEARCH INTO HOUR-BY-HOUR MATCHING

Although the ten-year partnership is set to start in 2022, the first theme of the long-term research line has already been determined in order to achieve fossil-free energy consumption: hour-by-hour matching. This refers to the search for a solution to the mismatching per hour between consumption of renewable electricity, on the one hand, and the supply of renewable electricity on the other. This mismatch is caused by the fact that renewable sources do not always produce sufficient electricity or otherwise produce electricity at times where there is insufficient demand.

AUAS wishes to work with Vattenfall in the years to come to achieve 100% fossil-free electricity consumption (100% hour-for-hour matching) in its buildings. The buildings of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the CWI (the national research institute for mathematics and computer science) will likewise serve as testing grounds for this research. In order to find solutions to this mismatch, AUAS will be developing research projects in the years to come that are supported by national and European grant funds.

SEEKING OUT THE CHALLENGE

‘In terms of education and teaching, we will be working alongside Vattenfall to identify an overarching “challenge” which will be adapted every few years to the needs of professional practice,’ says Felia Boerwinkel, the Energy Transition theme coordinator at the AUAS Centre of Expertise Urban Technology. ‘Vattenfall will submit issues to us, which we will then incorporate in teaching and research, by way of programme minors, work placement opportunities, workshops and guest lectures. At our studios, we will be applying specific technologies and skills to the knowledge and innovation issues, resulting in education intersecting with research. In this way, we will be very specifically preparing students for the job market upon graduation.’

Vattenfall is a key player in the Amsterdam and Dutch energy market as the owner of part of the Amsterdam heating grid, market leader in public charging stations and energy provider servicing a large number of customers. Renee Heller, Professor of Energy & Innovation at AUAS: ‘Working on sustainability and energy innovations with Vattenfall has the potential for us to have a significant impact. It’s a large company that also offers many opportunities for our students, in terms of work placements and as a future employer. Given the scarcity of technicians, it’s beneficial to Vattenfall to get to know our students.’

Groene energie

JOINING FORCES

‘Entering into a long-term partnership with a partner in professional practice allows us to learn from one another continuously, constantly calibrating research and gaining better insight into the skills our students need to develop – both for now and in future,’ Boerwinkel adds. ‘A structural partnership gives us an opportunity to take a thematic approach to research and to involve other Centres of Expertise and professorships at AUAS. Within the Energy & Innovation professorship, we may have knowledge about the technology involved, but a transition involves broader issues that need to be addressed in order to achieve real results, for example in terms of behavioural change, policy and finance.’

ENERGY SUPPLY FOR UNIVERSITY BUILDINGS

The partnership took shape as part of a new energy tender by AUAS, the UvA and CWI, carried out by Facility Services (FS). Vattenfall emerged as an energy provider and partner for education and research in 2022-2032. As a result of previous collaborative efforts, FS and Urban Technology were quick to link up. ‘Our partnership has seen us work on sustainability ambitions, such as sustainable procurement and the energy efficiency of our premises, for years,’ says Rowan Boeters of FS. ‘Working with Vattenfall will allow us to work on long-term objectives and make a serious contribution to the energy transition. At present, we are working on a roadmap to make our electricity procurement greener and more sustainable. This is aimed at ensuring our buildings are 100% fossil-free in terms of energy consumption. We believe that education, research and professional practice can achieve this by working together.’

Centre of Expertise Urban Technology

The Centre of Expertise Urban Technology is all about the key challenges facing the city, namely the transition towards achieving circular and competitive cities with a good quality of life. There are four key themes: Energy Transition, Circular City, Designing Future Cities and Connectivity/Mobility. The Energy Transition theme focuses on making a contribution to the local sustainable energy transition, with particular focus on heating grids, increasing solar energy, smart grids (with particular focus on the integration of electric mobility), energy-neutral and energy-positive buildings and/or districts, and the development of charging infrastructure for electric transport. As the Centre of Expertise of the Faculty of Technology, Urban Technology acts as the linchpin between education, teaching, research and professional practice.