You are the losers, Scheer said to the captains of the Dutch energy-industry

October 14, 2010 - "The shift to renewables is a technical revolution. And there is no revolution without breaks. You are the losers", Herman Scheer told the participants of the conference 'Energy transition meets leadership', Tuesday in Amersfoort, organized by the Energy Delta Institute. Conventional energy companies are going to disappear according to Scheer, who is president of Eurosolar en is considered to be the architect of the German law on renewables, the EEG.

If you don't want to cooperate, you have a problem
The participants of the conference mainly consisted of leaders of the Dutch energy sector, so the message was not received with great enthusiasm. But the audience remained very polite and very patient, when the German protagonist started again one of his lengthy digressions. “If you don’t want to cooperate with the owners of gas fired power station, you have a serious problem”, according to Peter de Wit, president of Shell Netherlands. After all, for the most part electricity produced by windmills and solar systems cannot be stored, so gas fired stations will have to join in when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing.

At most 30% will be sustainable energy
According to De Wit, energy from wind and sun cannot provide for more than 30% of the energy consumption. The rest can be provided by gas. There is plenty of gas. But there will need to be a shift from coal fired plants to gas fired plants. “Europe is slow in grasping the potential of new sources like shale gas”. De Wit agrees with Catrines Jepma, president of the Energy Delta Institute, when he said that the gas-industry has paid too little attention to the image of gas. This is, according to De Wit, in contrast to the coal-industry, which is facing difficult times already for a long time and has had to fight for its image.

Plenty of wind and sun
Scheer does not agree with De Wit. His ‘basic assumption’ is that all energy will have to come from sustainable sources like the sun, wind, water and biomass. And he wants to move to a sustainable energy system as soon as possible. Not only are the reserves of oil and gas limited and is there a limit on the amounts of CO2 that can be exhausted into the air. There is also an ecological limit, which may be reached even earlier than the other bottlenecks. Even if CO2 emission was not a problem, we would run into this ecological limit. There is no question as to whether there is enough wind and sun to provide in the energy needs of the world. There is. Scheer does not even want to discuss that issue.

Paradigm shift is necessary
But we have to learn to think in another way, according to Scheer. “We should recognize that the sustainable energy system is a different system.” The shift to sustainable energy is a ‘paradigm shift’ according to Scheer, the term that the scientist Thomas Kuhn used in the sixties of the past century to describe major changes (fashions) in science. “We need a technology revolution. And when we have chosen for a new energy source, we have no choice but to follow the requirements of this source.” The so-called intermittent problem does hardly exist. Scheer thinks that investments in ways to storage electricity will follow the choice for sun and windenergy and there will be technological inventions to make that happen. This believe was received with a lot of skepticism in the room.

Don’t bother about disappearance
And "there is no shift without breaks", he said. “You are the losers”, so he said to the captains of the Dutch energy-industry. But we don’t have to feel sorry, like no one bothered when the typewriting industry disappeared. CEO Gertjan Lankhorst of Gasterra answered simply that there is nothing new in saying that industries disappear. The number of companies that survive for more than hundred years is very limited. "So is this statement essential to make your point?", so Lankhorst asked. De Wit said that it is "simplistic" to suppose that one does not have to cooperate with each other. Scheer compared the (expected) revolution of renewables with the huge success of laptops or mobile phones. Big companies like IBM completely failed in predicting the break-through of the these technological devices and went almost bankrupt because of that.

Skepticism
It is however one thing to look back and identify the technical revolutions of the past, it is another to actually predict them, so it was believed among members of the audience. Also other believes of Scheer were questioned. “There is no reason for the government to postpone the shift to renewable energy”, so Scheer believes. Maybe there are however; growing budget deficits being one of them. Because of the huge costs of the German system, there is not a chance that Holland will take over the German system, so Ulco Vermeulen of Gasunie said. “You had to transfer in the past ten years 150 billion of euro’s from energy consumers to producers”, Jepma said to the German thinker. “In Holland people will be reluctant to pay this.”

Cooperation means making concessions
“Are you willing to cooperate with the conventional energy sector?”, so one of the members of the audience asked. “Yes, but I will not make concessions if that means that the shift to renewables is postponed.” “I take that as a no, because cooperation always means that one has to make concessions”, so was the reply of the man who had put forward the question. And that was perhaps the main difference between the approach of Scheer and that of the Dutch leaders. The last ones emphasized the importance of cooperation in order to reach ambitious goals on sustainable energy. 'Because that is simply the way we tend to do this in Holland.'

En, oh ja, het Energy Delta institute is een klote-instituut dat niet betaalt voor afgenomen diensten. Waarschijnlijk teveel beïnvloed door de corrupte Russen waar ze zoveel mee omgaan.

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