Based in Groningen (NL) the Centre of Expertise Energy, speeds up the transition to clean, renewable and affordable energy with open innovation.
EnTranCe,the Centre of Expertise Energy, was established to speed up the transisition towards a sustainable energy society within a context of sustainable economic development, one of the largest global challenges. It does so with an interdisciplinary and multilevel approach, with co-ownership from society and most of all, with practical examples that are open for all to see.
Such a centre is particularly important for the north of the Netherlands, because exploration of natural gas has been an important economic driver since the 1950s. However, given the transition to renewable energy and the occurrence of earthquakes due to this exploration, a shift is necessary.
Because of the earthquakes, the urgency at all stakeholders is present. Fortunately, there is important soft and hard energy infrastructure, as well as available space and human resources.
Because the practice concentrates on innovation at the local level with guidance from regional, national and supranational stakeholders, we consider this practice relevant to RELOS3.
All projects that EnTranCe develops are open, using networks to build trust, facilitate co-creation and share knowledge. Typically they are relatively short projects, sometimes within a long-term setting such as the Ameland Living Lab, in which an entire island in the Wadden Sea undergoes the energy transition.
In 2014, about € 12 million was initially invested for the development of the site and an experimental (smart) building. About 25 people work for EnTranCe, as researchers, project managers, liaison officers and so on.
Evidence of success
There has been a multitude of activities that have created thanks to EnTranCe. Participation in the Interreg Europe projects SHREC and InnoHEIs for example, or the multi-national hydrogen project HEAVENN (funded by Horizon2020/Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking). This initiative received € 20 million EU funding, along with € 70 million in private and public co-funding. Of course, all the new skills gained by students, CO2 emissions saved by the field labs and so on are relevant, too.
One of the most important lessons that was learnt, is how important it is to pick something that has a certain urgence. Without the earthquakes, it would not have been as easy to get attention for EnTranCe and its potential.
Potential for learning or transfer
This practice demonstrates very well how two key success factors, namely a sense of urgency and building on knowledge that already exists, can create very powerful and meaningful institution with effects that are beyond the imagination. In this case, this has particuarly been so because of all of the projects have been open, in the sense that others can learn but also build on ideas or participate in projects that have been initiated by the direct ecosystem around EnTranCe.
During the course of the RELOS3 project, two partners (Tartu City Government and Wielkopolska County Council) have studied this case very closely and are considering transferring parts of the project in their own policies.