Last Tuesday, 8th November, ACN had the pleasure of attending the ISPTannual conference, focused on the financial challenges for the Dutch sustainability sector. This year, they were talking about money.
Understanding the goals: The Dutch government has the challenge of fulfilling several sustainability and circularity goals by 2050. Global demand for raw materials for products like food, electrical goods, and clothes is increasing sharply. The Dutch government is therefore working with other public authorities, knowledge institutions and environmental organizations, industry, trade unions, financial institutions, and other civil society organizations to find smarter, and more efficient ways of supplying and using raw materials.
But this ambitious transition needs to be financed somehow, and understanding what investments will contribute to the energy transition is one of the challenges. The transition that companies have to make within the process industry is becoming increasingly complex. So complex that companies can no longer do it alone. “The circular economy is an excellent example of this. Solutions and innovations always require collaboration between multiple companies, in multiple links of the chain. From the design, through the manufacturing, until the recycle process” says Tjeerd Jongsma, general director of the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT).
The conference: This year, the event took place in the “Prodentfabriek” in Amersfoort. During the event, high lever speakers talked frankly, and opened the discussion about the theme. Hosted by Rossanne Hertzberger (Microbiologist, Columnist at NRC Handelsblad, and Writer), the main round table included Marjan Minnesma (Director and Founder of the Urgenda Foundation), Alike Krekt (Programme Director at Deltalinqs Climate Program(DCP), and chairman of the cluster table of the Rotterdam-Moerdijk industry), Peter Molengraaf (Head of the Energy Top Sector), Werner Schouten (Director of the Impact Economy Foundation), Rob Tarwel (Partner and co-founder at Kalavasta), and Tjeerd Jongsma (ISPT Director).
Some Key take-aways:
- The era of cheap gas supply from Russia is over. Meeting the offer and demand for natural gas in Europe will be increasingly difficult. The answer is to operate more efficiently and “electrificate” as many operations as possible.
- Production volumes of the chemical industry decreased in 2022, especially for energy-intensive plants. Shall we accept that manufacturing industries will disappear from the Netherlands, or shall we facilitate their operations now with policy and subsidies, accelerating their transition to the highest standards of sustainability? And how? These are open questions.
- The Hydrogen economy: the government needs to have a long-term project, with full support independent by the political opinions, if they want to have the companies believing in it. Otherwise, businesses will hardly invest in H2 if they are not sure about its availability, and this will slow down the transition.
Innovation award: During the conference, we could assist to the Industry Innovators Award 2022 finals. Three finalists had four minutes to convince the jury and the public of their potential game-changer technology. The three finalists were: Suncom Energy, Alucha Works, and Energy21, but Suncom Energy eventually took home the award. Henk Arntz,founder, and CEO: “We are really happy with this award. We hope to build the first solar thermal power plant for small-scale applications in the Netherlands as soon as possible, and we are convinced that it will succeed. There is a lot of interest from many different companies to get started with this, from bakeries and lemonade factories to saunas and district heating. And the good news is: we have a very good business case for all those purposes.”
ACN: For ACN, it was important to attend the ISPT conference to understand the advanced development of circularity and build a relationship to expand our network on a national level. There is always something new to learn ,whether it is a new tactic to surpass goals and understand the potential in the future or new markets and industries. At a strategic level, discussing similar challenges and opportunities with other leaders and peers helps ACN keep an eye on interesting projects for our members.