European transformation of the energy system

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Article from REHVA Journal 5, 2021 – Em. prof. dr. ir. J.L.M. (Jan) Hensen and drs. J.J. (Jan Jaap) Blüm, CLIMA 2022 topic coordinators Energy


CLIMA 2022 is an international congress with energy concerning plant engineering as one of the main topics. To become climate neutral by 2050, Europe must transform its energy system (which accounts for 75% of EU greenhouse gas emissions). The recently adopted EU plans/strategies to integrate energy systems (European Green Deal and NextGenerationEU) must pave the way for a more efficient and interconnected energy sector, driven by the double goal of a cleaner planet and a stronger economy.

The EU strategy for energy system integration will provide the framework for the transition to green energy. The current situation is based on separate energy systems (silos) with different vertical value chains that coexist and closely link energy sources to their specific end-users, e.g. petroleum products as fuel for the transport sector. This model cannot achieve climate neutrality cost-effectively by 2050; the changing costs of innovative solutions must be integrated into the way we operate our energy system. New connections between sectors must be created, and technological advances must be exploited.

Energy system integration means planning and managing the system as a whole, based on the interconnectedness of different energy carriers, infrastructures, and sectors of consumption. Such an interconnected and flexible system will be more efficient and will reduce costs for society. It could, for example, be a system where the electricity for electric cars comes from solar panels on roofs, while buildings are heated with waste heat from a nearby factory, and factories are powered by green hydrogen produced from offshore wind energy.

Short-term political goals and challenges
Firstly, a more ‘circular’ energy system, with energy efficiency at its core. The strategy will identify concrete actions to put the ‘energy efficiency first’ principle into practice and use local energy sources more effectively in our buildings or neighbourhoods. There is signifi[1]cant potential in reusing waste heat from industry, data centres or other sources, and energy produced from bio-waste or in wastewater treatment plants. The ‘Renovatieversneller’ (a Renovation-accelerator, a Dutch governmental initiative to subsidise sustain[1]able restoration projects) will be an important part of these reforms.

Secondly, greater direct electrification of end-use sectors. Because the energy sector has the largest share of renewable energy sources, we need to use more and more electricity wherever possible: for example, for heat pumps in buildings, electric vehicles in transport or electric furnaces in certain industries. A network of one million charging points for electric vehicles will be among the most visible results, along with the increase in solar and wind power.

For those sectors where electrification is difficult, the strategy promotes clean fuels, including renewable hydrogen and sustainable biofuels and biogas. The EU Commission will make a new proposal for a clas[1]sification and certification system for renewable and low-carbon fuels.

The EU strategy comprises 38 actions to create a more integrated energy system. These include the revision of existing legislation, financial support, research and application of new technologies and digital tools, directives for the Member States on fiscal measures and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, reform of the market governance and infrastructure planning, and improved consumer information. An analysis of the existing obstacles in these areas will be used for concrete proposals, for example, the revision of the Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) regula[1]tion or the revision of the energy taxation directive and the regulatory framework for the gas market.

CLIMA 2022 focuses on the relationship between the above and the installation technology sector. The development of building management systems that use heat, cold and electricity from renewable sources is accelerating, creating a need for flexibility and, therefore, energy storage and energy exchange between buildings. In addition, there is a need for innovative HVAC products and performance opti[1]misation through improved design, operation and maintenance of the various integrated mechanical and electrical subsystems. Typically, this includes reducing and balancing energy needs for heating, cooling and ventilation. While this is not exactly trivial in the case of new buildings, it poses enormous technical, social, economic and political challenges for existing buildings.

It is evident that solutions differ from country to country. Exchanging experiences and learning from each other are the main objectives of CLIMA 2022. This is not limited to the technical aspects but includes economic, cultural, legal and organisational aspects. The overall energy system becomes more dynamic and is influenced by additional actors with non-traditional roles. When houses become small power plants, when large building complexes start to exchange energy, or when smart data companies control energy con[1]sumption, the government, grid operators, energy companies, financial institutions, and our sector must respond.

CLIMA 2022, therefore, welcomes original contri[1]butions that introduce, share, broaden and improve scientific and practical knowledge and experience on the following sub-topics:

• Renewable and smart energy solutions for buildings and sites: energy storage; energy exchange; energy flexibility; renewable energy production;
• Designing innovative HVAC systems for optimised operational performance: high-performance HVAC systems and components; smart technologies; opti[1]mised control; optimised maintenance; data-driven operation; digital twins; reducing and balancing the energy demand in buildings: energy transition; technological breakthroughs in insulation; ventila[1]tion; shading; systemic innovations;
• Legislation, business models and shifting responsi[1]bilities: new legislation; public-private partnerships; market initiatives; new business models; new players in the energy market.

Read this article in REHVA Journal 5


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