EIRES 'Heroes like you'

Energy Heroes - Ruben Lathuy

The theme of TU/e’s lustrum year, which marks the university’s 65th anniversary, is ‘Heroes like you.’  In keeping with this theme, EIRES publishes a series of interviews throughout the year with the motto ‘Energy Heroes.’ TU/e students, alumni and employees with proven track records in the field of energy research and innovation are given the floor to share their passion for energy research and innovation.

Ruben Lathuy

Department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences (IE&IS)

Eindhoven University of Technology harbors a myriad of student teams which address societal challenges by combining academic competence with a passion to change the world. Compliant with EIRES’ mission to accelerate the energy transition, team RED develops models to help decision makers explore the pros and cons of sustainable energy technologies. Former team leader and current team member Ruben Lathuy shares his experiences with this team.

Passion and competence

Ever since high school, TU/e Bachelor student Ruben Lathuy is fascinated by the notion of sustainability in relation to energy. After graduating in 2017, his choice for TU/e’s Sustainable Innovation course program thus was an easy one. Due to his excellent results, Ruben was invited to take part in the Honors Academy. There he joined team RED, a student team that wants to speed up the energy transition process by developing an interactive decision-support model that simulates the implementation of energy technologies.

Playing with possibilities
‘With team RED, we want to provide decision makers with easily accessible information about the consequences of implementing various energy technologies in the built environment,’ Lathuy explains. Last March, the team delivered its first model, which simulates the TU/e campus. This first product consists of a touchscreen monitor which depicts the campus buildings. By clicking on a building, users get more information about its energy consumption. They are also able to add small tokens which symbolize sustainable energy solutions, such as solar panels or batteries. The touchscreen immediately displays what adding such technology would mean both for the building itself and for the entire campus.
The nice thing about our model is that it gives a rather complete overview of these consequences,’ Lathuy says. ‘So we not only take into account weather data to calculate expected yields, but we also assess if for example the electric campus’ cables are powerful enough to cope with peak loads.’ The current version of the model incorporates solar panels and batteries. ‘A next step is to also include wind turbines and charging of electric vehicles,’ Lathuy says.’

Toward multipurpose model
Besides on expanding the scope of the simulated technologies, currently the team is also working on a second demonstrator project for a business park in Breda. ‘Our ultimate aim is to build a modular system that can be used to simulate any district, ranging from university campuses and business parks to residential areas. With this system, we want to provide businesses and government organizations with information about the consequences of their sustainability choices. We explicitly  didn’t prioritize optimizing the solution for them, since it highly depends on individual preferences and circumstances what to optimize for.’ Sometimes the most important parameter might be involved with costs, while at other instances, the resilience in dealing with peak powers is the decisive factor. We also believe that in giving the decision makers and other stakeholders more control over placing and moving technologies in the simulation, they will be more supportive of the final decision.’

Making a difference
Lathuy regards his membership of the student team as a valuable extra to his course program. ‘When I jumped in back in 2019, team RED had only just existed for about one year. I felt that I could really make a difference being part of such a young team.’ After being a team member for a year, Lathuy became team leader, a role he only vacated last January. ‘I’m almost done with my Bachelor, and looking around for opportunities where to pursue my Master. I thought this would be a good moment to pass on the leadership to my successor Niels Adaloudis.’

While staying involved in team RED as a member, Lathuy recently also joined another Eindhoven initiative called Go Green Office. ‘Since I only have to take one more exam, I had some free time on my hands. This appointment as Chief Education at Go Green Office seamlessly fits my experience, and enables me to make good use of the network I built during my time at team RED.’

New horizons
After working and studying in Eindhoven for four years, Lathuy is now looking for opportunities to explore new horizons, preferably abroad. ‘At TU/e, there is a natural focus on the technology side of the energy transition. For my Master, I would like to link up more with societal issues. How are we going to implement all of this technology in our daily lives? And what is needed to make this energy transition a success?’
The Belgian-born student values the opportunities the university offered him to already start making a difference as a student. ‘It is nice to see that the university and research institutes like EIRES support student teams with expertise, time and money. The university harbors a lot of knowledge. By combing that with the passion of students who want to make a difference for the world, we can achieve great things.’

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