'Small-scale, clean energy supply means more prosperity'

‘Now that my first grandchild is born, my time horizon has expanded way beyond 2020 and even 2050. Technical developments create new options for our energy supply and put more power in the hands of households in the way computing and communication technologies have expanded our global reach to global dimensions. While use of fossil energy is still affecting the climate and our quality of life, ordinary people, authorities and companies are compelled by the need to do something about it and now we actually can.

In the seventeenth century we still burned wood and gradually switched to coal and oil and eventually natural gas. Now cleaner energy sources have emerged, albeit with new challenges especially in demand supply management. Small-scale solutions to generate energy mean a more individual kind of energy supply that makes people independent of their environment and the chance to wrestle free of the chains of poverty. Engineering solutions will more often be found, in poor countries too. The extraordinarily lopsided division of prosperity in the world cannot be maintained.

I see future cities whose populations, twice what they are today, live in a highly technological yet natural environment. Nice places to live and work, with greener and cleaner surroundings than those of today. Renewable energy solutions will allow us to have a nicer and natural environment and also reconnect the surrounding fields with city centers as most clean energy technologies today are influenced by surface area. Energy and engineering do not have to be in conflict with the environment, quite the opposite.'

Rick Harwig
Former director, Strategic Area Energy

Other activities: chairman supervisory board Prodrive Technologies, advisory board COMMIT\, member supervisory board The Green Village Delft, Owner Harwig Innovation Services

Previous positions: CTO at Royal Philips, CEO at Philips Corporate Technologies and Philips Research.