Wind energy professor Gijs van Kuik bids farewell after forty years

News - 07 December 2016

Offshore wind

‘After taking some time to reach this stage, wind energy is now approaching a tipping point: offshore wind farms will soon be producing energy at prices that can almost compete with electricity generated from fossil fuels’, Van Kuik explained in his farewell speech. ‘The increasing size of wind turbines and wind farms and the experience gained from previous projects will make this reduction in the cost price possible. The Energy Accord agreed between government and industry envisages a significant role for offshore wind energy in supplying the Netherlands with electricity in the future.’ Van Kuik believes that this is just the start: he thinks that offshore wind energy has the potential to become one of the cornerstones of the sustainable energy supply in the North Sea countries by 2050. ‘Dutch industry, already at the cutting edge when it comes to building offshore wind farms, and Dutch research institutions are preparing for this in a major collaborative programme for research and development.’ 

That the new Energy Agenda was presented on the same day shows that, like Van Kuik,  the cabinet of the Netherlands sees the importance of offshore wind and wants to make an all-out effort in order to achieve that output will grow with 1 GW annually, from 2026 onwards unsubsidized. 

Lower costs and increased value

In his speech, Van Kuik also looked ahead to the opportunities and challenges in the years leading up to 2050. ‘Costs will need to be further reduced by gaining greater experience but also through further research into such areas as meteorological conditions at high altitudes, new materials for the blades, the ability to adjust capacity and the foundation of the support on the seabed. At the same time, the value of wind energy for society needs to increase. This can be achieved by effective accommodation within the electricity grid – which will be greatly assisted through coordination between national electricity markets, by taking account of the ecology of the North Sea and by working together with others who use the North Sea. The production of synthetic fuel by wind energy plants far out at sea could be a major step forward towards a more sustainable shipping and fishing industry.’

Career

After graduating in Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft in 1976, Gijs van Kuik was appointed to the newly established wind energy group. Van Kuik was later awarded his doctorate at TU Eindhoven (1991), before spending almost fifteen years in business. He then returned to TU Delft, where his roles included that of scientific director of DUWIND, a multidisciplinary research institute focusing on wind energy. In his research at the University, his main interest was in the development of rotor technology for use in wind turbines.  

Van Kuik has been active in the field of wind energy for forty years. He noted in his speech that wind energy had become increasingly popular as a subject: at the start of his career only five to ten students would turn up for the introductory lectures on wind energy, but that figure had since increased to more than 200. 

More information

Personal interview Looking backward and forward with Gijs van Kuik’    
Sharita Balgobind (TU Delft press officer), U.S.Balgobind@tudelft.nl, +31 (0)15 15 2781588.