In ten years Curaçao is expected to play a leading role in the field of renewable energy, and in twenty years it should be a major exporter of renewable energy in the Caribbean. To achieve this ambition, a Living Lab, in which the government of Curaçao, TNO and the University of Curaçao (UoC) will collaborate with Dutch and Curaçao companies, is being built.
The participating organisations have announced this in a joint statement. Each one of the companies affiliated with this initiative regard sustainability as being of paramount importance. Participating organisations from the Netherlands are the Port of Rotterdam Authority, Damen Shipyards, high-tech company VDL Groep, storage company Vopak, and offshore company Van Oord. The Curaçao-based ones are the Refineria di Kòrsou (RdK) oil refinery, Aqualectra water and energy company, Selikor waste disposal company, and the ABC bus company.
New economic impulses
Curaçao and TNO have already been working together for over two years, using applied research to speed up innovations in the area of sustainable mobility. The Refineria di Kòrsou (RdK) commissioned TNO to conduct an analysis of possible transition paths in the near future. Although for more than a century, the refinery has been a major employer and source of income for Curaçao, sustainable activities and products will eventually need to be added and potentially replace the existing ones. For Curaçao, it is all about combining sustainability, new economic impulses and knowledge building.
Triple helix: knowledge, businesses, government
The Living Lab consists of a joint research and development programme to make the transition to a sustainable economy a reality. A number of companies from Curaçao and the Netherlands are collaborating on the project with knowledge partners TNO and UoC. In addition to the oil refinery, participating organisations are the ABC bus company, Aqualectra water and energy company and Selikor waste disposal company. UoC handles the local knowledge building. The living lab is supported by the government of Curaçao, the Dutch Ministry of Defence, NL Works, and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK) and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) also welcome the initiative.
Organising sustainable energy supply chains
The Living Lab will be an open ecosystem where innovations are tested on a relatively small scale. It is also about setting up sustainable energy supply chains from generation to conversion and storage, right through to distribution and consumption. For example, electric buses on the island will not be a stand-alone solution; they will be part of an energy supply chain that uses solar energy and battery storage. This will eventually evolve into a system of energy chains that comprises renewable power, hydrogen production, synthetic energy carriers, electrification, storage, refinery decarbonisation, biofuels and charging stations. The energy transition will only be a success when all parts of the supply chain are seamlessly coordinated.
Quicker innovation and scaling up
The idea behind the project is that supply chain innovations can be established more quickly on an island scale, and should they turn out to be successful, they can also be rapidly scaled up. For instance, thanks in part to the great potential of solar and wind energy on Curaçao, new applications developed there can also be applied in other parts of the Caribbean region, the Netherlands, or elsewhere. The Living Lab will mean there is a continuous exchange of ideas and knowledge between Curaçao and the Netherlands. Consequently, the participating companies will increase their sales market in the region and develop new export products for the Dutch and world markets
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