More green investments, an effective CO2 pricing scheme and an enterprising government that is not afraid to make mistakes. A government that works in close partnership with the private sector to realise a new energy infrastructure. These are a few of the findings that resulted from the eleventh COVID-proof edition of the Rotterdam Energy Port conference.

The 2020 edition took place under great interest and in challenging times, against the backdrop of three important new agreements with an impact on companies in and around the Port of Rotterdam: a national Climate Agreement, a European Green Deal and the Rotterdam Climate Agreement. On the one hand, the discussion focused on the impact of COVID-19 crisis on the energy transition, and the need to keep moving forward – now more than ever. On the other hand, it was clear that this is a tough period for many companies, so this may not be the time to step up investments.

Collaboration throughout the chain
At the opening of the conference, Olaf Sleijpen, the Director of the Dutch central bank DNB, argued for a more effective pricing scheme for COemissions and an increase in green investments.  Sleijpen argued these are needed to ensure that the Dutch and European economies are climate neutral by 2050.

Furthermore, there was a lot of attention in various sessions for collaboration throughout the chain and across because that contributes to the feasibility of projects. Speakers gave a number of examples of projects where this works well like e.g. ZES packs: a system of interchangeable battery containers for electric propulsion of inland vessels, commissioned by the Heineken brewery. 

Enterprising government
That public-private partnerships have become more important than ever was also underlined by Henri Bontenbal’s closing remarks, in which he called on the government to take the initiative. To become the leading climate-neutral and circular port of the future, the port of Rotterdam needs both enterprising companies and government. A transcript of Bontenbal’s inspiring appeal can be found here.

Covid-proof conference
The 2020 conference also had a different format than previous years and may have been the most special edition so far. The event was completely COVID-proof, with an online streaming platform, a networking carrousel, virtual roundtables and the opportunity to have digital chats with the speakers. With its online matchmaking opportunities, this format came quite close to a full-fledged, face-to-face event.