The Netherlands could become a major European energy hub in the near future according to scientists at TU Delft. Given its strategic location, infrastructure and advances in scientific research, the country could potentially take on a leading role in the European energy market if it learns to play to its strengths.

In order to prepare the Netherlands for complex changes in its energy infrastructure, while ensuring continuous economic prosperity, TU Delft has initiated a movement to harness the nation’s power and direct it towards the European energy sector. Entitled “The Delft Plan: the Netherlands as Europe’s Energy Gateway”, the proposal offers a future direction for policy, market actors, science and other stakeholders in the energy field. It envisions the Netherlands as the primary coordinator of Europe’s fast-changing energy market, managing the conversion, transportation and storage of energy across the continent.

“The energy system is complex,” said TU Delft Professor Paulien Herder, Chair of the Delft Energy Initiative and co-initiator of the Delft Plan, in a statement on the TU Delft website. “It is a market that involves many different energy carriers, as well as a range of methods of storage and conversion. Such a market requires some form of direction. Whoever can convert, store and transport energy the most efficiently and profitably will be able to provide this direction.”

Based on TU Delft’s proposal, the Netherlands must establish an integrated and flexible system, whereby energy conversion and storage forms a bridge between fluctuating supply and demand. Since energy is generated from a number of different sources, conversion between various energy carriers and carbon sources is required to ensure that European consumers are supplied with the desired amount of energy in the desired form at all times. The Delft plan was developed based on the input of TU Delft scientists and various stakeholders in the energy sector.

“In the ideal European energy market, you would use solar energy to generate power in southern Europe, wind energy in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Northern Germany, nuclear power in France and hydroelectric power in Scandinavia and the Alps,” said Tim van der Hagen, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences and initiator of The Delft Plan. “Such a complex and integrated system would require direction, however, and the Netherlands ticks all the right boxes for that role. In fact, all we need is to continue doing what we are best at.”