Amsterdam, Bicycle City

The Netherlands is a world leader with regard to engineering water-management solutions on an industrial scale. The country was created in the delta of three large rivers that flow into the North Sea and roughly two thirds of the nation’s GDP are earned below sea level. One of the world’s largest airports – Amsterdam Airport Schiphol – was constructed on land that used to be an almost two million acre-wide lake. The Dutch proudly proclaim “we know water,” but they also know energy.

“We have a huge focus on water and our solutions can be applied in other geographic areas, but we also have energy solutions that can be applied in other societies,” Maartje Smitshuysen, Senior Economic Officer at the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in New York recently told Breaking Energy.

As part of its mission to connect Dutch businesses with US companies, the Consulate is heavily involved with New York Energy Week – the innovative event series launched by Energy Solutions Forum – where representatives from Dutch grid operator Allainder will be speaking.

Post Hurricane Sandy, many companies are working on dealing with energy and water issues, said Emily Vette, Junior Economic Officer with the consulate.

“Technology transfer from IT and electricity to other sectors is critical. Scientific innovations already made by Dutch companies can be transferred to US businesses. And in order to facilitate that transfer, we need to showcase our talents. This is the reason why the Government of the Netherlands is interested in New York Energy Week,” explained Tim Kreukniet, Program Director of East Coast Electric, a government-backed program that consists of 15 companies in the EV and Microgrid field. “East Coast Electric wants to bring Dutch innovation to American streets,” he added.

At the same time, Dutch companies can gain expertise from US firms. Much of the power grid in the Netherlands is underground, while the US has an extensive above-ground system, which affords opportunities for technical collaboration among utilities, generators, system operators, distributors and other stakeholders.

“We see the energy system changing from a centralized system to a decentralized one in both countries. Grid resiliency solutions developed in the Netherlands can be applied here and vice versa. We want to learn from US innovators,” said Kreukniet. And facilitating these connections was a primary motivating factor the creation of New York Energy Week.

Distributed renewable energy proliferation creates engineering challenges for power grids designed around large, centralized power plants. Smoothly integrating renewables into the grid is a major issue for utilities and power generators these days. The grid resiliency challenge in the face of rapid wind and solar deployment – more solar panels were reportedly installed in the US in the last 18 months than in the last 30 years – is an ideal place for US and European engineers and companies to collaborate.

“Renewable energy penetration could cause local problems, so grid operators focus on demand and voltage management to avoid congestion. Something also a number of US utilities and companies focus on,” Kreukniet said.

Some interesting facts about EVs and microgrids in the Netherlands:

  • 35,000+ EVs in the Netherlands (which has a population just under 17 million), together with Norway (population 5.1 million) the highest per capita in the world
  • In 2013 11% of all the new car’s sold where an EV (BEV + PHEV)
  • The City of Amsterdam has more public EV charging stations than the entire US East Coast
  • The country features an open EV charging model, so you can charge at any location with any provider
  • The Dutch grid is the most resilient in the EU, only 19 minutes of downtime per grid connection

Founded in 2011, Energy Solutions Forum (ESF) provides U.S. energy policy research and data services to support investment decisions across all sectors of the energy industry. Headquartered in New York City, ESF is proud to be a NYC ACRE company.

ESF is the creator of EnerKnol, the first one-stop platform for comprehensive US energy policy information, providing energy market participants with regulatory data directly from U.S. Federal, State, and local energy policy information in real-time. ESF launched New York Energy Week to support the company’s founding mission to drive industry investment through information access and collaboration across all sectors of the diverse, and often fragmented, energy industry.

Full disclosure: Breaking Energy is a media partner for New York Energy Week and the author is on the NYEW Board of Directors.