By Volker Beckers,
Erasmus Centre For Future Energy Business
Energy Transition should involve every business, politics and should be a part of every educational curriculum, says Volker Beckers, former Group CEO RWE and now, among other activities, Chairman of the Erasmus Centre of Future Energy Business advisory board. Erasmus Centre for Future Energy Business is a specialist research centre focusing on the energy market, based at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) and hosting the annual Erasmus Energy Forum on June 28&29 in Rotterdam.
Volker Beckers: “We need to recognize this is a comprehensive challenge. We need skillful engineers and information experts. And we need a new holistic approach of influencing economics. Businesses need to rethink their sustainability goals: is sustainability a nice thing, or something vitally important? Where are the touchpoints with our business or education? If I were to decide, sustainability would be a mandatory part in every syllabus. Businesses can only be successful if they think holistically and how they achieve sustainable results.
And, this is not just about what the young talent should learn. The challenges are a wide range of different challenges. We need a diverse group of people to face and work on these challenges. No one should be kept out of this transition – everybody has to be a part of this.”
Key partners for the energy transition? “It’s us”
“Governments need to set the political and regulatory framework providing certainty. Then, we need the society to sign up to this framework. After all, the society, we, the consumers will have to shoulder the cost of the Energy Transition. Therefore, it is critical we all feel aligned on this objective. Research and development must anticipate and support the transition in every way possible; Universities, think-tanks and inventors. Then, we should and need to commercialize the innovations, too. That is where businesses step in. And the technology companies will have to drive the new generation and applications, which will enable customers to take the new direction. So in order to accelerate the energy transition I think the simple answer is: “we need all of us.”
Money is not the issue
“With COP21 and the aim of keeping global warming below 2C, we need to action now. Most of all it is a matter of political timing. Money is not the issue, we have enough financial investors and technical knowledge. But…, because infrastructure investors are uncertain about the political framework these investments do not go necessarily into the energy market. Investors are anxious, about their return on investments, will their investments deliver long-term results? Will the governments of tomorrow say the things they said today or even yesterday?”
Trump and Brexit are not about energy transition
“Those who voted for Brexit and Trump did not vote for the new energy agenda, but in a protest against the status quo challenging the establishment. However, even in the camp of protest voters they feel the need of tackling climate change and driving the energy transformation. This applied for the elections in the Netherlands and most certainly in France as well. This political phenomena will ultimately not have anything to do with the sustainability agenda. Maybe I am an optimist, but I like to be so …”
More important, the question for me is whether we jointly believe in the necessity of an international and cross sector energy transition. Undisputedly, a change is needed in the way we use our resources: what we take out of the soil, the air we breathe, and how we deal with the resource drinking water. We see exciting initiatives on local and country level. This should be encouraged: politicians and entrepreneurs alike should help local initiatives for energy transition as it works best there – community energy or even community resource initiatives.
The race for being the country with the most sustainable energy system has not yet been won. Actually, I would like to to encourage all – regions and communities, cities and villages to try and become the best practice example for others.”
Five reasons to attend the Erasmus Energy Forum?
“There are five main reasons. First, there is a great number of conferences, and many of us can only attend one or two in one year. Now, in the Erasmus Energy Forum conference, the diversity of speakers – from science, politics and business – and diverse participants, promises that I will get to know different and perhaps sometimes diverging views. That makes going to this conference the best use of my time as it gives me different perspectives and facettes.
Second, ECFEB is now a “known quantity” in the European context – making us one of the bigger conferences attracting high quality speakers and opinion leaders from business, politics and science. This makes this conference more attractive every time year on year.
Third, it is held in Rotterdam: a city where you already see a lot of things happening. It is a city and a port – a city in itself. Lots of innovations can be seen first-hand and energy transformation ideas are part of the current debate.
Forth, you could get to meet decision makers in the Centre of Energy Business. We are one of the leading research centres in the Europe – maybe even beyond. So, getting access to the people in charge of that centre is a great opportunity.
…and, lastly: let us not forget that Rotterdam is a wonderful city. You can feel the buzz here, innovation is happening everywhere. That is an inspiring experience for all visitors.”
Erasmus Energy Forum 2017 | 28 June, Erasmus University Rotterdam Campus | 29 June, World Trade Center Rotterdam
Where the industry’s foremost business leaders, policy-makers, international investors, regulators, innovators and academics will gather for a series of constructive debates that will determine the future of the energy market.
Accelerating the energy transition – paths to zero carbon energy
Join us at the sixth annual Erasmus Energy Forum, which focuses on the key enablers for the transition accelerating the energy transition – paths to zero carbon energy. Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam hosts this event in joint effort with its partners Gemeente City of Rotterdam and Port of Rotterdam. The Science Day is 28 June at Erasmus University Rotterdam Woudestein Campus and the Business Day on 29 June at World Trade Center Rotterdam.