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Number 3 (July 2012)

Keeping an eye on reliability

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Daniel Scholten, assistant professor at Delft University of Technology, has defended the first thesis to be sponsored by EDGaR. In Keeping an Eye on Reliability, he goes beyond the fact that the reliability of energy infrastructures depends on technology. He argues that it also pertains to the organizational structure that enables and constrains infrastructure entities in their management of operations. Scholten identifies the organizational requirements of the technological characteristics of energy systems in a simple yet effective manner. His result is a stepwise progression that moves from several critical technical functions and their control mechanisms to the responsibilities and roles that they imply for the entities involved in their operation and, finally, to the organizational structure that may facilitate the latter. Scholten applies his innovative approach to the case of hydrogen as a motor fuel in the Netherlands. This contribution is part of the project Towards sustainable gas distribution systems.

The integration of local and regional energy systems

How to contribute to the development of an efficient and effective low-carbon energy system by a further integration of the energy infrastructure, which includes gas, electricity and heat, at local and regional levels in the Netherlands? This problem is at the center of a new research project under the leadership of Rolf Künneke, from Delft University of Technology. The projec Integrating local and regional energy systems for enhancing sustainability is carried in cooperation with KIWA, Enexis, Liander, Stedin, ECN and TNO. 1,24 million euros has been budgeted. Researchers will start with possible scenarios of future energy systems in the Netherlands. They will make an analysis of the suitable institutional arrangements in relation with the peculiar technological configuration of each scenario. Moreover, they will use agent based modeling to render the complexity of the phenomenon under investigation. Overall, the project will provide a technical and institutional framework for the local and regional integration of both gas and electricity. It will identify the wisest investments decisions in the management of the assets. Finally, it will make recommendations on changes in regulation and anticipates changing market positions of energy incumbents.

Furthering cooperation with the DVGW

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We will cooperate further with the Deutsche Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches (DVGV). That is the outcome of a meeting held in Bonn, Germany, in July. There, EDGaR’s Bureau and Program Steering Committee have met the direction and scientific board of the gas section of the DVGW. The two organizations do have junction points about the making of new gases, gas infrastructure, gas system analysis and the effects of new gases on end uses. The cooperation will most likely begin, during the autumn 2012, with a joint conference with researchers of both organizations. Later in 2013, it may be followed up by further activities such as a conference to lay down the foundation of a European research program. Founded in 1859, the DVGW elaborates technical regulations for safety and reliability of gas and water supply in Germany. Its 12,150 members give it the mandate to make standards, proceed to inspection and certification of gas installations and inform the public over water and gas. Finally, it carries over research activities, with public and private funding.

Midterm review

The research program is halfway! What are the main results up until now? The Program Steering Committee has started a round of discussions with the research leaders and other participating researchers. To facilitate the synthesis, projects have been grouped into eight clusters. The idea consists of pinpointing the most important results and innovations. With the agreement of the research leaders, the results will be posted on the website. Some more interesting results will be broadly communicated throught press releases and media interviews. Finally, the broad EDGaR community will have also benefit of knowing what is going on within each project.

Six months extension

The EDGaR research program has been extended by six months. Initial plans provided to finish off on 31 December 2014. Yet, with this extension, the program will officially finish on 1 July 2015. The Board of Directors has taken the decision. Samenwerkingsverband Noord Nederland (SNN), a financial institution that sponsors EDGaR, has approved it. The extension will facilitate the reimbursement of the costs for doctoral students whose end date could not be set earlier than December 2014. For most of the projects, however, the final end date will remain the same as planned.

World society and energy transition

The summer school World Society and Energy Transition has been held at the University of Groningen. More that thirty students from all over the world but mostly Europe attended it. Lectures had been given on energy from the viewpoint of the natural, engineering and social sciences. Several researchers and students participating to EDGaR were participating to the school: Jean-François Auger, Aad Correljé, Kas Hemmes, Catrinus Jepma, Coby van der Linde, Harro Meijer, Martha Roggenkamp, Bert Scholtens and Linda Steg. The event was organized by the European International Relation Summer School, in partnership with the Department of International Relations and the Groningen Energy andSustainability Program of the University of Groningen, the Energy Delta Institute and EDGaR.

Smart grids

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A conference has been held on the theme of smart grids, during which a few participants to the EDGaR program made presentations: Ashwin Ittoo, Harro Meijer, Martha Roggenkamp, Jacquelien Scherpen and Linda Steg. This was the occasion to hear about cutting edge research, to discover what colleagues in other faculties are doing, and to identify affinities and overlap between research interests. One session highlighted the possibilities for growth and funding. Given the positive comments, a similar research meeting is expected to be organized. Presentations are downloadable from the website. The event was an initiative of the Groningen Energy and Sustainability Program.

An experimental field for knowledge valorization

EnTranCe, an initiative already operational, aims a contributing to the development of demand-driven innovation in energy-related product and services. Based on the concept of a living laboratory, it consists of a large-scale experimental field, on the Zernike site in Groningen, within which companies can practically test, experiment and develop innovations. Moreover, participants have access to state-of-the-art equipment and the technical expertise of the parties, in a spirit derived from open innovation. Bam, GasTerra, Gasunie, Hanze University of Applied Sciences and Imtech have started it up. One of the themes of EnTranCe, Flexigas, aims at making bio-digestion controllable. For some EDGaR project, it can offer opportunities to move on to the valorization stage of the results by moving towards the practical implementation of the findings. For more information, please contact Wim van Gemert.

About people

Economics of infrastructures. Rolf Künneke, from Delft University of Technology, has been promoted full professor. He assumes a professorship on the economics of infrastructures at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. Prof. Dr. Künneke is a member of EDGaR's Program Steering Committee and research leader of the projects Towards sustainable gas distribution systems and Integrating local and regional energy systems for enhancing sustainability.

Gas infrastructure. Jeroen de Joode, gas coordinator at ECN, has received a PhD degree from Delft University of Technology for his thesis on the Regulation of Gas Infrastructure Expansion. He discusses the various types of regulations in Europe according to the different gas infrastructure facilities such as the Netherlands-United Kingdom pipeline interconnection. The thesis has been published as part of the series of the Next Generation Infrastructure Foundation. Dr. de Joode participates to the projets Up stream - down stream and Understanding gas sector intra-market and inter-market interactions.

Costly consumer search. Vaiva Petrikaite, from the University of Groningen, has received a PhD degree from the same university for her thesis The Effects of Costly Consumer Search on Mergers and Cartels. She investigates for which incentives companies merge and collude to reduce the consumer’s search costs for product and services. Dr. Petrikaite works as a postdoctoral researcher in the project Effects of decentralized new-gas injection in relation with sustainable electricity on the market system dynamics. The model she has developped will serve as a starting point for this project.

Policy advisor. Rosemarie van Eekelen has been hired as policy advisor in asset management at Liander. Her coordianation role for EDGaR at Kiwa Gas Technology will be assumed by Harald Ophoff. Arend Herwijn will took over her role in the project Towards sustainable gas distribution systems, while Johannes de Bruin will do the same for the project Decentralized gas storage.

Six new participants.The project Mapping the contextual conditions of resilient decentralized energy systems, under the leadership of Bert Scholtens, from the University of Groningen, has several new participants: Tjerk Sanberg, Floris Batenburg, Philipp Metzner, Gerrit Jan Dijkgraaf, Jan-Willem Bolderdijk and Cobus van der Poel.

European University Institute. From September to October 2012, Thijs Jong, a doctoral student at the University of Groningen, will be a visitor at the European University Institute, Florence, Italy. There he will cooperate with several researchers to the development of a database of emission trading transactions. This database will be relevant for both gas and electricity industries in Europe. This work is carried at the Climate Policy Research Unit, under the head of Prof. Dr. Denny Ellerman. Jong participates in the research project Understanding gas sector intra-market and inter-market interactions.