Taken down your Christmas tree yet? Good. Now let’s look ahead to the new year with EV specialist and IO columnist Auke Hoekstra. Although in order to be able to look ahead, you also have to reflect back. Because what on earth exactly happened in 2019?

“A heck of a lot!” Auke starts off enthusiastically. “Every day, 325 thousand people gained access to electricity for the first time, more than 200 thousand people gained access to clean water out of a tap. And about 650 thousand people went online for the first time – every single day too! Per day. I think it’s such a pity that the news mainly focuses on things that go wrong. “If it bleeds it leads”, they say in England. But this is proof that there’s also plenty of things in the world that are going well.”

Last year was a good year for green energy and electric mobility, Auke notes. “The message that we should turn to the electric car seems to have gotten through. Just look at the sales figures for December. I was on RTL News for about five seconds to talk about this, but you won’t hear me complaining. Trump may have just as well said something crazy and then I wouldn’t have been on screen at all. But this kind of positive news should get more attention as far as I’m concerned.”

Rate of increase is slowing down

“What also became very clear last year is that the world is cutting down more and more on fossil resources that we extract from the earth. You can see that even in China. The use of coal is not on the rise there as much as it used to be. They’re encouraging more sustainable alternatives there too. I’m not expecting coal use to drop next year anytime soon, but the message seems to have gotten across even over there.”

In England, 2019 was the year when there was more energy generated from green sources than there was energy from fossil fuels. “They’re doing well in the United Kingdom. It’s great news and it’s terrific from a historical perspective as well. This is the country where the Industrial Revolution started, they have the richest coal heritage in the whole world. Now you can see that they are once again leading the way with renewables.”

Auke has to laugh: “Actually I should pack it all in. Last year it seems like everyone suddenly realized that something has to change right away if we are to save the earth.” On a more serious note he adds: “There’s still plenty to do. I am looking forward to working with NEON to figure out how we can get The Netherlands to change over to sustainable energy and mobility as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible. We are now setting up various consortia to give shape to projects. As soon as the legal formalities have been completed, we can get to work. It would be nice to be able to show some tentative results by the end of 2020.”

A decade of green transition

After all, standing idly by is not an option: “The Netherlands really needs to start making strides in the coming period. For quite a while already it hasn’t been as dire as it was several years ago. But we’re still not doing well enough when you consider the CO2 emissions from our electricity. Poland is of course doing much worse, but they also have a lot less money to spend there than we do here.”

“It’s a pity that we now have to close so many more coal-fired power stations all at once and implement more sustainable alternatives so quickly,” says Auke. This changeover has a hefty price tag. According to Auke, we should have started that five years earlier: “We may have to buy out coal-fired power stations. It’s a shame that money was spent on those so recently. But the good news is that by 2020, The Netherlands will probably no longer be on the lowest rung of the ladder when it comes to CO2 emissions from electricity.”

The making of history

This may sound a bit ‘peevish’, but he doesn’t mean it that way: “We mustn’t forget that this generation is making history! We are the first to say farewell to fossil fuels. We have all seen in the past year that we can have much more influence on mitigating the impact of climate change. All over the world, we’re doing everything we can to generate more sustainable energy. And in 2020, the electric car will also become cheaper and really cool models are coming onto the market. Actually, we already have plenty of solutions on hand that are needed to remain below that two degrees of global warming. In the next decade, we’re going to implement all of these technologies.”

 

Not only will things change in terms of mobility or energy, but also in the way we eat: “Look at cultured meat. That will mean that livestock farming will no longer have such a major impact on the earth. Honestly, I see opportunities everywhere! I fully believe 100% that we will succeed in saving the world!”