Industrial collaboration for social returns
If Dutch industry succeeds in turning hydrogen into a commonplace source of collective energy provision, then the Netherlands – provided it sets the pace – could gain an enormous international competitive advantage. This was the thrust of a short debate held in Dutch Parliament during the budgetary debates on economic affairs and climate in November 2019.
The Christian Democrats (CDA) proposed powering factories in the Port of Rotterdam with ‘green’ hydrogen produced by offshore wind turbines.
The CDA unveiled plans that would enable businesses to subscribe to new-build offshore wind turbine parks, directly cable-connected to a factory in the Port of Rotterdam, allowing electricity to be converted into hydrogen.
“An excellent idea,” responds Guido Gerritsen, director and owner of APM BV. “This debate has shown that people are now thinking much more sensibly about how we could best use surplus electricity. Another great thing about an alternative like this, is that it doesn’t burden the national grid; laying a cable between the offshore wind turbine park and the Port of Rotterdam is all that’s needed. It’s one of the few occasions when I’ve heard politicians addressing this issue in a way that makes real sense, because it is a comprehensive response to the energy challenges we will be facing in the coming years.”
The CDA believes that the Netherlands could take the lead in this field, a position that will give rise to new export products. In addition, MP Agnes Mulder is convinced that this will ultimately enable the Netherlands to export more knowledge and expertise.
Guido Gerritsen agrees. “I see people looking beyond traditional conservatism, and that’s a good thing. Thinking inside the box puts the brakes on innovation. We are seeing people step back to ask the bigger question: what good does this bring to society? It would appear that commercial profit is no longer being regarded as the only benchmark. People are thinking more consciously about social returns.”
“What I like most about this way of thinking is that a range of businesses are being increasingly challenged to engage in competitive bidding. This can also encourage competitors to work together, giving chain integration a much more important role in day-to-day operations in the industry. This is something we endorse.”
“After all, today’s technological developments are happening at a very rapid pace; SMEs are already barely able to keep up, so we are all faced with the challenge of creating broader cross-links and relationships. We are always looking for external partners to inspire us and with whom we can continuously exchange knowledge. You never know beforehand where these things can lead.”
“Innovation has always been our core business at APM, and it always will be,” affirms Guido. “But that means being willing to lower your guard and share your own hard-earned expertise. That’s why I continue to appeal to my fellow SMEs: we need to find the courage to collaborate much more.”
This blogpost has also been published in Dutch.