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Frank Vanclay - RUG

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A social licence to operate.

People are sceptical, so both policy as well as social incentives are necessary to realize goals. Changes in infrastructure, let alone technological innovations will not be implemented without social support. Besides policy, a social license to operate is essential. Technological discussions should go hand in hand with social ones through for example Constructive Technology Assessment.

What do you see as the main challenge for the EU and/or the Netherlands specific with regards to Energy Consciousness?

The main challenge is to get people to take it seriously. I think people are sceptical and won’t change their behavior that much themselves; we need technological and policy changes to change the outcome. Things change when we mandate all diesels to be sold as a 50/50 mix with biodiesel, but it wouldn’t happen if you would offer the customer both options. Governments are not singular entities, however, especially at the European level it’s a delicate balance.

What is the most important issue with regards to System Integration for the EU and/or the Netherlands and what should be done about it?

Again, it’s mostly a policy consideration with a focus on social issues. There will be plenty of technological issues, but I think in the timeframe that we are talking about (2030) these will be addressed. The electricity grid in Europe is going to be integrated completely in the future, which means that many of the cables are routed wrong. But new infrastructures are often opposed on a local level, so we must address social issues too. The same goes for wind farms: locally people are against putting them up. The energy sector has to realize they need to gain acceptance from local communities, a social license to operate.

If you could spend 100 billion euro in the EU next year on the followings subjects, how would you spend them?

We should not spend all the money on technical research. A social commitment is essential for technological implementation. A concept called Constructive Technology Assessment makes technological discussions go hand in hand with public discussions about social issues. Money would have to be allocated to solving these kinds of issues so technological innovation won’t die on the shelf.

What role can the Energy Transition Model play with regards to Energy Consciousness and System Integration?

Potentially, models are training tools or teaching mechanisms that create a way of thinking. The ETM in that way can play a role in developing energy knowledge and consciousness.

  • Country: Netherlands
  • End Year: 2030

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