After a fun and interesting week in Berlin we are back and the focus is back on the thesis and the blog. Before we left we interviewed an expert in the field of renewable energy. We interviewed Geert Palmers, the CEO of our company (3E, www.3E.eu).
The interview is divided into three parts. First we asked some questions about himself to get you some basic information. In the second part we focused our questions onto the company and the vision of the company. In the final part we asked his opinion on some of the topics we discussed in our blog, like the energiewende and nuclear energy. The questions are in presented in bold and some personal comments of us are written in Italic. Hope you guys enjoy the interview.
Name: Geert Palmers
Age: I forgot, but I was born in 1968
College education: KUL Burgerlijk Electrotechnisch ingenieur 1991, Foundation Universitaire Luxembourgeouse – Master in Environmental Sciences 1993.
What was the vision, the idea you had for 3E when you started the company?
The 3 founders (Luc De Gheselle, Werner Coppye, Geert Palmers) liked to work together when they were at IMEC, and started a series of common projects at the time. A common vision about the energy future was developed, namely that renewable energy has to play a dominant role in any future energy system. After some other professional experiences – 3E was founded to bring projects to reality.
Fun fact: The name 3E refers to the 3 founders and the fact that they are engineers so 3 Engineers.
Is this vision changed over time and what is the current mission of 3E?
No, our vision stayed the same. Of course, our activities have broadened and our presence have.
Here you can see a map which show the projects of 3E or the projects in which 3E collaborates around the globe
How do you see the future for 3E?
3E will continue to internationalize it’s consultancy activities as well as it’s software services. In addition the current spin-offs (Xant nv and Flidar nv) of 3E will continue to develop and there will follow more new spin-off company’s.
Flidar is the spin-off we are currently working for and Xant has developed a an innovative and certified concept for medium scale wind turbines.
The future of renewable energy
What is your opinion on nuclear energy and do you think the world actually needs nuclear energy?
It is evident that a energy system can be conceived without nuclear power.
In some countries with high energy intensity, low renewable energy resources, and high share of nuclear power (such as Belgium), the transition will require time and significant power import from neighbouring countries
The nuclear “renaissance” in Europe has resulted in only two partially built nuclear reactors in Finland (Olkiluoto) and in France (Flamanville). Both reactors are several years behind schedule and billions of Euros over budget. New nuclear power is more expensive than most types of renewable energy.
What do you think of the German energiewende? The German initiative to close all nuclear plants by 2022 and thus more relying on renewable energy sources.
Germany has developed a very well prepared plan, and it is feasible. It might take more time, and even if only 80% of the plan would be realised, it will put Germany again in an exemplary and leading international position. This decision of the largest EU economy is a major breakthrough for renewable energy.
Note that Angela Merkel is a physicist which was in favour of nuclear power, even after Chernobyl. She changed her position completely after Fukushima – which happened in a technologically very advanced country.
Do you believe Belgium should follow the German example?
Belgium should build a similar plan, and try to get a broad support for this in society. This would avoid policy changes every election for a theme which needs decades of stable investments in line with the vision.
Belgium can get to a high penetration of renewable energy, but to my opinion it is more affordable and better for public acceptance to have a significant part of its consumption imported from neighbouring countries (e.g. offshore wind from NL, UK,..).
What do you see as promising evolutions in the world of renewable energy?
Continued decrease of prices of solar PV power, new generation of offshore wind turbines (current offshore wind turbines are the onshore versions, but just a bit ‘marinised’), Demand side management, Storage getting more attention and private investments, Internationalisation of the markets and the technology progress speeding it up and making progress more stable (not dependent anymore of a few voluntaristic countries).
To end this blogpost I would very much like to thank mr. Palmers for his time to do this interview with us and I hope you guys enjoyed reading it. If you have any questions or remarks don’t hesitate to post them in the comments.