“The sun is a solution,” concluded Prof. Arno Smets in his inaugural address given at TU Delft on Wednesday, 28 September. Smets and his group at TU Delft envisage all energy provision being based on sustainable energy sources in the near future. The use of solar energy requires more attention in his opinion, especially because of its high returns and low cost.
Smets’ research is focused on accelerating this energy transition through continued integration of solar energy conversion systems in society. He has developed various technologies that transform sunlight into useful electrical energy and, more recently, into chemical energy, such as the transformation of electricity into fuel. He wants society to believe in this vision and make use of solar energy itself, instead of trusting in complex stimulation measures.
He also stresses the importance of education: “The problem in the Netherlands is that we have too few engineers contributing to policy. Compared with the rest of Europe, we produce the fewest technicians. If you do not embrace technology, you cannot expect to make much progress. That is why we supply the relevant education. TU Delft offers several courses, and we have a unique PV lab where students can get hands-on experience working on the energy transition.”
TU Delft educates experts both in Delft and worldwide who are contributing to radical changes in electricity provision. The university does this by offering free online courses, ‘ Renewable Energy & Solar Energy MOOCs’ (Massive Open Online Courses), which anyone can register for. These experts are working hard on innovations that contribute towards greater efficiency regarding the generation, transportation, storage, distribution and use of sustainable energy.
The acceleration of the energy transition faces a number of challenges which Arno Smets and other professors at the Electrical Sustainable Energy department will be tackling in the coming time. Prof. Pavol Bauer will talk more about the development of DC systems and energy storage, in his inaugural speech on 12 October. Prof. Arthur Weber will focus on improving and lowering costs of silicon solar cells and stimulating their use in society in his inaugural speech on 16 November. Finally, Prof. Peter Palensky will cover the modification of the energy network, ‘smart grids’, in his inaugural speech on 14 December.