Earlier this year I got acquainted with Thomas Boersma, project manager at Solarplaza, when he arranged the Energy Flexibility Forum, a new European platform for key stakeholders in the transition towards a flexible energy system, and before we move on, let’s watch the very informative video from that project once again:
Solarplaza is all about pushing solar
As the name already gives away, Solarplaza has its roots in the solar industry. Since 2004 it has been organizing conferences and trade missions about different aspects of this industry. In the past 14 years, it has organized over 100 events in over 30 countries. From Solar Asset Management conferences in Tokyo, San Francisco, and Milan, to trade missions pushing solar development in Senegal, Mali, and Niger, Solarplaza has been trying to accelerate the uptake of solar PV in many different ways.
As prices for solar and wind energy are rapidly declining the uptake of these energy sources will only increase. In certain countries, such as Spain and Italy, unsubsidized solar energy is already competitive with energy from conventional sources, so-called “market parity” has been reached. Many believe this will be the tipping point and cause even more exponential growth.
The Next Step
Anyway, Thomas now tells me that he feels the next natural step is a more diverse approach:
For us this was the reason to look further than just solar and build a team that will look at the challenges and business opportunities that come with the integration of all these renewables into the grid. Conferences of this team addressed topics such as how grid operators can unlock enough flexibility to deal with the duck curve, or how blockchain can be a tool to enable further decentralization.
Sorry to interrupt, but let’s all be clear on what a “duck curve” is. This video from the US Department of Energy explains it nicely:
And back to Thomas:
But to truly pursue our mission to accelerate the energy transition, we felt that we had to be even more innovative. The most frontrunning, pioneering topics in the energy transition are often not suitable for our conventional business model of full two-day conferences. Instead we decided launch a completely new concept, the Future Grid Labs.
Thomas goes on to explain that Future Grid Labs will be a sort of “high speed conferences” addressing the business implications of front-running niche topics in a program of half a day. And more importantly create a place for the ecosystem around these innovations to meet each other, share knowledge, and form new coalitions.
Combined with the online platform thefuturegrid.com, where you’ll find content such as webinars, whitepapers and podcasts around these topics, The Future Grid Labs will form an on- and offline platform to accelerate the energy transition.
Audit, assurance, and consulting company Deloitte, which is playing a prominent role in the energy transition in the Netherlands with its role in various task forces, such as the Energy Transition Coalition, was an obvious party for this initiative to reach out to. As the energy transition is very complex and involves numerous stakeholders, Deloitte acknowledge the value of knowledge sharing and networking platforms such as the Future Grid Labs, and therefore did not need much time to decide to join as a partner.
The first set of Labs will take place in Deloitte’s office in Rotterdam, in the Maastoren, on the 6th, 12th and 14th of December, respectively addressing grid-connected microgrids, economics of energy storage and floating solar photovoltaics. In case the Future Grid Labs turn out successful they expect to address even more innovative topics in 2019.