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Issue 2 2013




IZEN SOLAR thermal systems SINCE 1987

The first IZEN solar thermal system was installed in 1987. The founders were green hippies and an a strong determination to manufacture a product that would last for at least a quarter of a century. 25 years later, the solar thermal system and IZEN are still in perfect condition. Today, we are even more determined to provide you with the same quality product and installation work because that is what represents sustainability in the long run! 2

WELCOME COLOPHON Publisher: Gie Verbunt Hoeksken 56, 2275 Lille Coordination: Jelle Henneman Editorial staff: Pieter Callebaut, Isabelle Uselli, Dirk De Wilde, Jolien Lynen, Gie Verbunt, Jörgen Oosterwaal. Design: Joke Lammens,

I’m amazed at how renewable energy is now embedded in all levels of society. Fun stuff for people.

Elke Treunen Photography: Joke Lammens, Jolien Lynen Susan Smith (Susie Mey Photography) Contact Belgium: +32 (0)14 55 83 19

Renewable energy is no classic energy. That’s clear. You think about it, you open your mind to it and consequently to many opportunities. Renewable energy is like a large, fertile vegetable garden. You sow and you harvest. The vegetables grow all by themselves and you have fresh vegatebles on the table all year round. Green energy sharpens your conscience. It brings you back to the seasons, the climate of the day. It gives you a good feeling to produce your own energy. It gives you a good feeling to determine your own energy use, energy management and it is easy. It is effortless. Energy production and data communication go hand in hand.

Contact Denmark: + 45 (0) 23 86 95 14 Contact UK:

I consume a lot when I produce a lot. The sun connected directly into my freezer, washing machine, my electric car. Renewable energy provides you with an ecological home you can control. Independence, it is a good feeling. No big energy producers and suppliers that play around with you. No fear for the next energy bill. Non, only a compassionate smile for the large, traditional or nuclear energy producer.

+44 (0) 1785 413105

+31 (0) 646818600

Energy positive homes. Also for existing homes. Of course. It will be a quest for energy that escapes, disappears, but no worries we will find those energy devouring sources. And we will all bring it back to the heart of the matter. Energy saving, energy efficiency and a little bit of green energy. Energy that you can take and use where you want. A positive story.

Contact Croatia:

Are you excited as well to get started? Let us know! It’s going to be fun.

Contact Nederland:

Gie Verbunt.

+ 385 1 3042 406
































The future looks green



25 years ago, IZEN started as a rarity in the nongreen world. Today a lot has changed. But let’s look another 25 years ahead, in the year 2037: what does our society look like then in terms of energy? According to Geert Palmers, with his globally active company 3E an absolute expert in the field of renewable energy, we can then have reached the point of zero CO2 emissions. But that means investments and - mostly- politicians who dare to make choices.

WO II, a home consumed about 120.000 joules, now that has been halved to about 56.000 joules. The European objective is to get to zero by 2020.

The company 3E advises big clients all over the world about the production and distribution of renewable energy and develops software to control and safeguard those processes efficiently. An authority if we may say so and for IZEN, big boss Geert Palmers reads the future. What will energy supply be like in the year 2037?

What do you mean, we are not going to save energy?

Not that he has thought this out all by himself. Several exhaustive predictions exist already with a virtually CO2-free future.

Transport is one of the three important sectors that will have to change profoundly in the coming decades. The building and the energy sector are the other two.

A large part of the techniques used to realise this target, are already known. First of all, buildings need better insulation. And there has to be a transition from passive homes to active homes. Those are houses that actively use what nature gives us. Via heat pumps and a multifunctional ‘cover’ around a home, the heating, light and ventilation are controlled.

YOUR HOME’S COVER In the construction sector, part of the road has been built. Before

That means that houses won’t look the same any more. The future todllers won’t draw houses with chimneys

What stands out is that the researchers base their predictions on a stable consumption: we are not going to use less electricity.

Yes we will and energy efficiency will increase requiring less electricity in several sectors. But on the other hand, more electricity will be needed to replace fossil fuels, especially for transport.



and smoke anymore as chimneys will disappear. Geert Palmers is convinced that renewable energy equipment will be ‘more stylish’. The build-up solar panels as we know them today, will be replaced by integrated systems. Solar energy will therefore not be ‘visible’ anymore as a technology but part of the building structure. Moreover, we will also copy traditional energy efficient building techniques from tropical countries for example with regard to natural ventilation, the use of materials that store heat and clever spatial planning. Such traditional techniques do not require more electricity but do offer more comfort. But all of this does mean that renovation of buildings has to be accelerated - from one percent to at least three percent for existing buildings. SOLAR FIELDS AND ISLANDS The energy sector has also come a long way already. For Palmers, 2012 was a milestone in energy history: for the first time ever large solar energy projects were being built on all continents,without subsidies. But the rate at which changes happen will still increase. The most important statement is that it does become possible to switch to renewable energy. International predictions show scenarios with 80 percent of the conventional energy sources replaced by renewable energy in 2050. This can even rise to 8

In Europe, about five thousand square kilometres will be covered with solar panels 100 percent if innovations accelerate which is a very realistic evolution. Especially wind and solar energy will play a dominant role when switching from conventional to renewable. Solar energy via photovoltaic cells will be the most used technology. One thousandth of Europe’s total surfaceabout five thousand square kilometres- will be covered with solar panels. These panels will be more stylish, more standardised, cheaper and more efficient. Wind turbines will become bigger and bigger to provide us with wind energy. By 2050, 100,000 new wind turbines will have been installed in the European Union. Half on land, the other half offshore. The cost price of those turbines, like all other renewable energy solutions, will be entirely included in the consumer rates. So without subsidies and including recycling costs at the end of the projects’ lifespan. The price of energy will not come down immediately. But here also applies that a strong technological revolution will take place with more diversity in the applied technologies.

When the stable production of conventional energy is indeed replaced by a more variable production of renewable energy, the electricity network will have to be adapted. The specialised software used to manage the net, the connected users and the available renewable energy, will become very important. Peaks and dips will have to be better guided. That means that the demand for energy can depend on the supply and as a consequence a number of big energy users will operate more frequently at night when the supply is greater than the demand. That is a scenario that could work for a part of the industry. But even then it will be difficult to provide, for example, the industry in the Antwerp harbour entirely with sustainable energy that has been generated locally. Also large cities will face problems, as part of their energy needs to come from outside the town, in some cases from even further. That’s why intercontinental electricity networks are required. The situation of remote communities is the total opposite: small towns and villages that are not linked to that large electricity network. They are called “Islands”. Various innovations are needed to provide them locally with energy. That’s when we talk about production of renewable energy and the storing

of that energy in batteries in order to make these communities energy independent. On condition that the storing of electricity becomes much cheaper. But Palmers is convinced that in 25 years time, that will be a fact. Better quality batteries are so important, also for electric cars, that a breakthrough is written in the stars - partly because of mass production for example in China. That should limit the price that “islands” will pay for their energy. This price however will vary from island to island as they ‘ll represent each a different scenario with different needs. All of this requires important investments in the electricity network. The current investment rate of around 30 billion Euro per year has to increase to about 70 billion Euro. That is a lot of money and moreover, the public resistance has to be surmounted. A more extensive network has to be built underground and overground. In this aspect, Palmers fears a lack of political courage and a longlasting battle for the needed building permits. The

NIMBY-syndrome - not in my backyard - is facing a very bright future. SMOKE-FREE CITIES The third and last sector in the spotlight is the transport sector. The current system has nothing to be proud of as far as Palmers is concerned. High energy consumption and little efficiency... The cars in the cities today drive as fast as the horses in the middle ages. The most important change is surely the rising of the electric car, according to our expert. He foresees a much smaller market share for bio fuels and hydrogen. He also expects that CO2-free citieswhere the classic car is not allowed anymore - will become as acceptable as smoke-free pubs. Initially contested but inevitable. Is this all really possible? ‘ Yes’, is the answer. Geert Palmers is very optimistic about the feasibility of this future in the technological field. But there are various serious challenges to be faced. And enormous investments to be made.

CO2-free cities, where nonelectrical cars are not allowed any more, will become as acceptable as smoke-free pubs But if the technological innovations accelerate and the price of conventional energy sources keeps increasing, those investments become profitable. The pure production of those investments also becomes a challenge. Companies have to have sufficient scale size in order to be able to build the required infrastructure in the coming years. Moreover, base material required for certain technologies, like batteries, has to be used wisely. But Palmers’fear is the political- social side of the story. A number of choices will have to made rapidly. Society has to be ready to invest heavily and accept the construction of the required infrastructure. Technologically it is possible but will the people follow? (ddw)


Sunny vegetables from Antwerp!


PAYING A VISIT TO THE ORGANIC FARMER Those solar panels are financially attractive and ecologically responsible.’ Jeroen Bockx from Antwerp has an impressive surface covered by solar panels. Electricity for his home and business, an organic farm on two hectares. And there is also a farm shop, “The Bio-shop”, where he sells a great assortment of chemical-free vegetables and fruit.

Jeroen grew up in a green environment. More than thirty years ago, his parents started the organic farm. “ From an ideological point of view, “ explains Jeroen. After his studies, he took over the farm in 2004.

Bockx tells the story of a colleague organic farmer who had a load of fruit refused because traces of a chemical pesticide were found on his produce, coming from a neighbouring farmer who had sprayed his corn.

When Jeroen explains how an organic farm functions, one realises that such a business requires a highly qualified manager. Every product to which any chemical process has been applied, is banned. Only natural products, bacteria and viruses are welcome.

NAUGHTY CREEPY CRAWLIES Jeroen’s answer to the question why he and his wife farm organically is simple : health. However, growing high quality organic produce is a complex battle.

And that is non-negotiable. The farm is inspected twice a year and a sample is taken at least once a year. Jeroen

For most of us, wet weather from May to July is just annoying. For an organic farmer, this is an additional challenge. “ We have to be able to work in a

preventive way. When a crop has been damaged, it is often a lost case.” When contamination looms, the organic farmer has to be able to treat the plants immediately. However, if it rains for days on end, every treatment will wash away. Weed control with machines is equally difficult when it rains. The soil is too wet to use the machines on the land. Luckily, the organic farmer has other alternatives. The ‘naughty creepycrawlies’ can be › PAYING A VISIT TO THE ORGANIC FARMER

› 11

Op bezoek bij de bioboer

eliminated by helpful insects like ladybirds or linopodes mite. Organic farmers also work on the ‘resistance’ of the plants by means of algae preparations for example, in order to make the plants more resistant against fungus. This requires specific knowledge about which plant can be made resistant in which way. And fruit is even more difficult than vegetables, says Jeroen. He mainly grows vegetables: lettuce, green beans, parsnips, cucumbers, tomatoes and potatoes. The apple trees and berry bushes grow in between the vegetable patches. Another alternative to chemicals is plot rotation. In a cycle lasting 9 years, crops alternate in accordance with specific characteristics for each crop. The Bio-SHOP The Bio-shop has a great vegetable and fruit assortment and that is no coincidence. If a plot doesn’t yield much, the( financial) blow is limited. ‘ In that case, we just mould the plants.’ That large assortment can equally be found in the farm shop. Locally produced seasonal vegetables are available all year round. The shop is being run by Jeroen’s mum, three half days a week. Besides their own produce they also propose other organic products such as rice, milk, coffee and wine. The shop has everything for a complete meal and that is handy for those who have nothing in the fridge for dinner. 12

As the intermediate trade is left out, organic farming becomes profitable. Farm shops have become increasingly popular with consumers. The products are fresher and cheaper than in a regular shop. And as the intermediate trade is left out, the farmer can obtain a more reasonable profit margin. ‘ Organic farming then becomes profitable and we even manage to grow and develop,’ says Jeroen. The produce that he doesn’t sell in the shop doesn’t go to the auction market but to market stalls, restaurants and a wholesaler. Jeroen works part-time at the wholesaler, to supplement his income. In May and June, farming takes about 1415 hours a day of his time but in winter it is more quite. Thanks to his so-called cold glasshouses (with plastic covers and without heating) and with some winter vegetables, Jeroen manages to have crops all year round. The organic vision of The Bio-shop is also represented in the energy supply. When Jeroen took over the business, he renovated the house. He got an IZEN solar thermal system to heat the water. At that time, there was no budget available for solar panels. Those were installed in 2010. In 2011, the panels

already generated 12,000 kilowatt/hours. The electricity is used in the home and for the farm, for example for the cooling of the vegetables and for the fridges in the shop. The return on investment for the solar panels is 5 years, explains Jeroen. The reduced subsidies only means that newcomers will have a slightly longer earn back period. As he only works with unheated glas houses, Jeroen Bockx doesn’t need a cogeneration, something most of his colleagues can’t do without. It is remarkable how well the organic farmers collaborate. They buy each other’s surplus produce, organise group training and exchange tips and advice. Jeroen doesn’t propose vegetable baskets yet, a sort of subscription whereby the consumer receives a regular supply of organic vegetables. Should he decide to go for these additional sales, then he will be able to ‘train’ with a colleague who has already set up such a system. Jeroen has never considered switching to conventional farming and use chemicals. ‘ Of course I have cursed on occasions when a plot was damaged and the crop lost because I didn’t have the appropriate response.’ Belgium has still quite a bit of growth potential. Currently, the production is too limited, a lot of organic vegetables still need to be imported. And this while the demand for organic products keeps increasing. # (ddw)

YOUNG LION Luca Brecel (17)


At fourteen already he was Belgian and European champion in the under twenty-one category. At fifteen, he was European amateur champion and elected most promising Belgian sportsman. But only in 2012 did he become globally well-known when he was the youngest snooker player ever to participate in the world championship. Luca Brecel is only seventeen years old and already destined to become a world champion. ‘Now that Kim Clijsters has stopped, Luca Brecel is the next sports person coming up who will dominate his discipline within a few years’, says Lode Colson who manages Brecel’s financial interests and whose company CKS is also Brecel’s most important sponsor. Snooker land Great Britain knows Brecel for a while already. The BBC has made two documentaries about him, the first one three years ago. In Belgium it was more difficult to draw the public’s attention. When Brecel qualified for the world championships in 2012 as the youngest player ever, he took away the record from seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry. Hendry is generally considered as one of the greatest snooker players ever but as early as in 2010, Brecel won from him in a demonstration game. No

wonder that connoisseurs keep an eye on Brecel. Despite his success, Brecel finds it difficult to make ends meet. When he was elected most promising sports person of the year 2010, his father launched an appeal to potential sponsors. Lode Colson reacted immediately. They come from the same village - Dilsen-Stokkem - and played for the same football club. For Colson it was unacceptable that such a talent couldn’t progress because of a lack of sponsorship. Colson’s company, CKS, closely collaborates with IZEN. CKS connects the IZEN solar installations to the electricity network. When Brecel qualified for the world championships in 2012, Colson asked Gie Verbunt from IZEN to sponsor Luca as well. He was reluctant: “ Oh well Lode, if you insist, I’ll see what I can do.” But in the meantime

the IZEN-staff has been infected by the snooker virus. Despite all support, Colson still has to find other sponsors who believe in Brecel. Every year, Luca needs about 50,000 Euro for training, travelling etc. Today, Brecel doesn’t raise that amount yet. Colson expects that in the next few years, Brecel will start earning enough prize money to cover his expenses. For example: current world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan receives 350,000 Euro in prize money. Anyway, Colson and Brecel’s ambitions go even further. They are working hard on their Snooker Academy where Belgian and foreign talents can train on top level. The plan is to develop the Academy in Dilsen, there where it all started for the seventeen year old child prodigy. # (ddw) 13


The IZEN Solar Home Parties

TUPPERWARE PARTY WITH BOILERS AND PANELS What is the link between plastic boxes, sex toys and renewable energy? IZEN energy systems was inspired by Tupperware and Upperdare parties in order to convince people of the usefulness of green energy. What better way to get more information about a solar boiler or solar panels than an animated evening at a friend’s home who has had such a system installed - while sipping a glass of wine (or two). 15


Sales employee Louis doesn’t get a chance to pour himself a glass. But Paul is the perfect host and makes sure his guests have everything they need Tonight’s party location is Paul’s kitchen. His cosy home in the middle of the countryside is the ideal setting for a Solar Home Party. Paul has invited about 12 friends for a snack and a drink while they listen attentively to IZEN specialist Louis’ explanations about solar thermal systems. The atmosphere is great. “ Wine from IZEN... We have to enjoy that to the full! “ joke his friends. Our host Paul knows IZEN from way back. About 20 years ago, his sanitary installation company collaborated with IZEN for the first time. “ It might have been IZEN’s first large project”, says Paul. “ Since then, I have always stayed loyal to the company. Director Gie Verbunt has become a real friend. And when I read about Solar Home Parties, I immediately contacted some friends who might be interested. The hot air balloon trip that I get for organising such a party is a nice bonus but certainly not decisive. “ Even though Paul knows the solar thermal concept for 25 years, his own system has been installed only recently. “ My solar thermal system was installed two months ago. Thanks to the subsidies, the system has never been so profitable. Not installing a system now would have been a missed opportunity. My son invested 6 years ago in an IZEN solar thermal system. He has earned back his investment by now. The solar thermal system works perfectly, our water is nice and warm even though it is already a bit chilly outside. “ Paul regularly recommends the IZEN solar thermal to his friends and customers. “ The great advantage with IZEN is that they function with a drain back principle. When the water has reached the required temperature or when it becomes too cold outside, the fluid drains out of the panel. This avoids freezing or overheating.” Is Paul the green guy from the flower power age? “ I’m not an environment freak. I just try and do my best to live an environmentally responsible life. I like to see myself as ‘ environment minded’. Even though my motivation to purchase a solar thermal system was mainly financially. The 16

system ensures that I need much less energy to produce hot water. I don’t know yet how much I have saved so far. I don’t compare my energy bills every months. But there is no doubt that the investment will be worth my while.” IZEN wine and the pleasant company get the guests talking. “ What maintenance does a solar thermal require?”, “Is the system really that small?”, “Can we use that IZEN voucher straight away?”. Jean-Louis doesn’t even get a chance to pour himself a glass. But Paul is the perfect host and makes sure his guests have everything they need Paul’s guests tell their story in Paul’s kitchen. Some are real experts when it comes to renewable energy. “ I already have 600 solar thermal systems, “ says Luc with a smile. “ Not at home of course. But I have realised quite a lot of building projects where IZEN has installed the solar thermal systems. 18 years ago we already opted for solar thermal systems. In all those years, we haven’t had to carry out any maintenance. However, I don’t have a solar thermal system at home. I have been considering buying one for a long time because a solar thermal system is a very logic investment. I actually think that every home should have one. But we never had the time to have a good look at it and it was always postponed. Now we are renovating the house and so it seems the ideal moment to integrate a solar thermal system. That’s why I came here today.” Koen and Stephanie, a young couple, have a solar thermal system in mind for a while now. “ We soon start building our own house. Tips on energy saving are very welcome. And with a solar thermal system we would like to invest in the future. We mainly want to limit our energy costs.” The financial aspect is clearly decisive for most of the guests. Louis from IZEN confirms a clear trend. “ The government is becoming convinced of the usefulness of a solar thermal system. The subsidy focus moves from solar panels to hot water heated by the sun. Sustainable living does not necessarily

‘Due to a lack of time, I have never gotten a solar thermal system installed. But now we are renovating the house so tonight I came here to get more information.’

mean generating lots of own electricity. You can also invest in energy saving measures like insulation or even produce heat for your central heating or shower water. The latter is what the solar thermal system takes care of. We don’t want to wait until people are convinced of the system’s usefulness, we want to actively increase public awareness. We want to go out there and meet the people and tell them personally why this concept is so interesting. Despite all modern communication techniques, word-of-mouth advertising is still very important.” During a Solar Home Party, we can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a solar thermal system in a relaxed

atmosphere. Convincing people of the usefulness of renewable energy doesn’t have to be stiff and boring. We try and organise an informative and pleasant evening.” No party without bubbles. At the end of the evening, Louis raffles two hot air balloon trips. Not a bad prize! However, most of the people have come here in the first place to get more information about solar thermal systems. Fons even passes his winning ticket on to an other neighbour. “ That’s not my cup of tea. Hot air balloon trips is something for the younger generation!” Tonight everyone is clearly focussed on the future. # (jol)

DO YOU FEEL LIKE ORGANISING A SOLAR HOME PARTY YOURSELF? Do you have a solar thermal system and/or solar panels from IZEN energy systems? Are you happy with your system and you want to share this experience with your friends and neighbours? Great!

IZEN organises Solar Home Parties at people’s homes. Can get at least 10 adults together to talk about the functioning of an IZEN solar thermal system and/or solar panels and the savings and subsidies that go with it? IZEN provides a very pleasant, interesting and

interactive lecture as well as the snacks and a glass of wine! Every organiser of such a green party receives a unique gift: a free hot air balloon trip for 2 people. But your guests are in for a treat as well! Another 2 hot air balloon trips are raffled on the evening and if there

is sufficient interest in the solar boiler and/or solar panels, we can offer a group discount. Do you want to make an appointment or receive more information? Contact us!


IZEN Ecohome brings the bill down to zero


John and his wife Jane

LIFE WITHOUT AN ENERGY BILL ‘Energy independent living? We don’t think that is a futuristic idea any more’, people at IZEN say. “It’s happening now!” John can confirm that statement. Due to high energy costs, he decided to totally review the state of his home. With the help of IZEN’s total concept Ecohome, John is now almost energy independent. It’s called active living.

We meet up with John and his wife, both in their early fifties, at their old farm in the countryside. Not very ecological? Thanks to different energy saving measures we have proven the contrary. “ Due to the rising energy costs, paying our bills became problematic,” tells John. “ So we started looking around at what we could do to save energy. Investing money in energy sa-

ving measures is nowadays more profitable than having the same money in a savings account. But the ecological aspect was also very important.” John decides to ask IZEN for advice. They have developed EcoHome, a total concept to create so-called ‘active homes’.Everything was measured and merged into a complicated calculation. The energy report showed that even though our home was in quite a good

condition, we could still become much more energy efficient. They advised us to invest in proper insulation and to get rid of our traditional gas heater. Following their recommendations, we got an air-water heat pump installed this spring. Years ago, we got solar panels installed and invested in a solar thermal sytem, LEDlighting and an energy efficient fridge and freezer.” According to Peter Van 19


‘IZEN first came to inspect our house thoroughly. The thickness of the walls, the type of glass, the rooms surface’.

Craenenenbroeck from IZEN, the ultimate objective of EcoHome is to make existing as well as new houses energy independent. “ Through an extensive energy-analysis and the right measures, we can bring the energy bill down to zero. Every home requires another approach. Not everybody has to take

drastic measures like John did.” Currently, John still pays 36 Euro a month for all his energy. “ Whether our energy bill really comes down to zero is still to be seen,” he says. “ At the moment our bill is still based on last year’s consumption. As we have just switched to supplier

Lampiris, all our energy is now completely green. Moreover, the comfort in our home has considerably increased and that is really very important.” # (jol)

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The EcoHome tool is a handy application that maps -- your current energy consumption and - possible savings in just a couple of steps. With a balanced mix of green technologies and energy saving measures, we’ll make your family energy independent for the next 25 years. Discover now what energy saving options your family can enjoy !

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Why not wash at 30° instead of 60°? That is a saving of 60%.


About 80% of the energy that your washing machine uses goes into the heating of the water. With the Alfamix you can get hot water directly from your boiler and send it to the washing machine. That represents a saving of up to 25%.


In an average household, 10% of the electricity consumption goes into hidden use such as equipment on stand-by, plugged in telephone chargers, ... With a connector box and an on/off button you can easily avoid this.


Defrost your freezer and fridge regularly. An ice layer of 2mm results in 10% more energy consumption.


With single glazing 80% more energy is lost than with high efficiency glass.heat with natural gas and have high efficiency glass save on average 15 Euros per m² of glass.


A solar boiler can heat 55 to 60% of all your sanitary hot water. The solar collectors in a solar thermal system can be combined with a heat pump boiler. Your energy is then generated by the sun and produced by the heat pump.


Looking for an e home? Do not forget that a detached house consumes about 20% more than a terraced house. A end of terrace house needs on average 10% more energy.


When you have a shower, the warm water just goes down the drain. A heat exchanger ensures that the warm waste water runs through a tube that is wrapped around the cold clean water tube. Your cold water is preheated and that means a saving of up to 50% in heating your shower water.


THE YEAR OF THE NUCLEAR EXIT The switch to a world powered only with renewable energy is difficult, but possible. But then we first need to get rid of our nuclear energy addiction. Let our imagination run free, in a year of fictional newspaper clippings. Everything you read here below is fictional but based on what specialists expect to happen. It is then up to us not to wait for the emergency scenario.

22 February 2013 17 January 2013


The Brits also join the Fessenheim-movement



The weekly Le Nouvel Observateur has revealed that Europe narrowly escaped a nuclear disaster last year. In the French nuclear power plant of Fessenheim, close to the German border, an incident took place in the night of 17 November whereby the cooling systems could no longer control an overheated reactor. Only the rapid supply of fire fighting water taken from the Rhine avoided a melt down of the core reactor. Nuclear watchdog ASN was supposedly aware of the incident in France’s oldest of the 58 nuclear reactors but employees were under strict instructions not to talk about the event to the outside world.

ow that the Fessenheim-movement, named after the nuclear incident, has managed to organize three massive anti-nuclear demonstrations in France, Germany & Belgium in only several weeks time, Great Britain is also joining the movement. Yesterday, a hundred thousand demonstrators assembled in the streets of London demanding an immediate nuclear exit. The pressure on European politics to make Europe nuclear-free has now mounted to unequalled levels. In France, the incident keeps claiming ‘victims’ at the highest level. Energy minister Delphine Batho resigned already and yesterday it was Henri Proglio’s turn, CEO of Fessenheim-operator Electricité de France (EDF). EDF’s stock remains in free fall.

12 March 2013 Europe decides on nuclear exit


uring a historical European summit, the European leaders have decided to close all nuclear power plants in the EU as off the 1st of May. Only France continued to resist until the last moment even though president Hollande did argue against the principle of the exit. His argument, that years of preparation were required, did not match the huge pressure that the Fessenheim-movement had put on the European political class. The organization saw 73 million members joining in just two months time. 22


3 May 2013

5 April 2013


Fessenheim becomes SHIFT


he popular anti-nuclear Fessenheim-movement has changed its name to SHIFT in order to represent a larger green movement than only a protest against nuclear energy. “ People’s safety is our first priority of course”, explains president Klaus Mängel. “ But at a deeper level, we are indisputably a green movement that wants people to control the energy they use instead of being a toy for the big guys. Today we see that we massively opt for coal and gas again in order to compensate for the loss of nuclear energy. But then we choose to be dependent again on fossil fuel and a victim of a changing climate. That’s why we have picked the name SHIFT: we want a radical shift to renewable energy. Gas and coal can play their role in the process towards this objective but are no real alternative. It is now or never!”


he power cuts predicted by opponents of the European nuclear exit, seem to be less than expected. Three days after the nuclear power plants have been shut down, there have been short power cuts in Belgium and Great Britain but that was to be blamed merely on the inexperience of the network authorities. Only France, as predicted due to the great dependency on nuclear energy, has bigger problems and more power cuts. “ The interconnectivity between the European countries has played its role correctly so far”, says Daniel Debbeni, CEO of the Belgian operator of the electricity production network Elia. “ Spain, Portugal and Switzerland do what they can to supplement the shortages France has, but their supply is not always sufficient for the French demand. It is expected that the stricter efficiency requirements that the European Commission plans to imposes on France will be made even more strict in the near future.”

22 April 2013

‘This is a green Marshall plan for Europe’


week before the nuclear exit, the European Commission has presented a number of revolutionary measures in its Energy plan. The gap created by the lack of nuclear energy has to be filled with a much higher supply by the existing coal and gas power plants. Agreements have been made with Russia and Colombia in order to ensure a steady reliable supply of gas and coal. But the objective is to be able to rely entirely on renewable energy as soon as possible. This means the set up of an investment process on a European level. The plan is to have the factories ready within a year in order to be able to produce all necessary solar panels. With regard to wind turbines, Europe has given itself three years to get ready. These investments are expected to create tens of thousands of jobs. Peak Shaving Besides guaranteeing supply, the European Energy plan is focussed on efficiency. Those measures affect the European population directly. The so-called ‘Peak Shaving’ will determine which activities are better carried out early or late in the day. For some it will become obligatory to carry them out at a certain time of the day. Concretely, the energy demand between 5pm and 7pm is high and so people will be dissuaded from using energy intensive equipment such as washing machines and dryers at that time of the day. Within a year, this situation will become automatic as an intelligent power network will pick the right moment to switch on a dishwasher. A great number of public facilities will be running on a reduced level during the evening peak period. Air-conditioning in public buildings in Southern Europe will be programmed at three degrees more and escalators will be stopped during the peak period. “ It is the only way to be able to achieve our ambitious targets”, states Commission president Manuel Barroso. “This is Europe’s green Marshall plan and just like after WO II, we are going to rebuild our continent on new foundations.’

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18 June 2013

No more NIMBY


he Belgian government has introduced new measures that make it very difficult for home owners to appeal against the installation of a wind turbine in their neighbourhood. This results talin the issuing of numerous permits that are now blocked by locals. Luc Desender, CEO of Electrawinds, praises the decision ‘The Not In My Back Yard’ - principle blocks many of our projects in densely populated Belgium as home owners consistently appealed against the decisions. But in a green future, everybody will have to learn to co-exist with wind turbines. In the meantime, we work hard on limiting the nuisance.”

2 November 2013

New studies: ecological network management

Audi Brussels also closes its doors



3 July 2013

he Karel De Grote Hogeschool (KDG) introduces a new field of study during the next academic year. Students opting for the professional bachelor Ecological Network management will learn how to deploy public and private power networks as efficient as possible. With this study, KDG follows a European trend. General Director at KDG, Dirk Broos, predicts a bright future for these new bachelors. “ It will be- come more and more important to use electricity in an efficient way. An intelligent power network is the key.”

15 September 2013

“ CO2-peak is a necessary evil”


laus Mängel, head of SHIFT, objected strongly against the criticism on the nuclear exit. In his opinion, the peak of C02 emission during the last few months is a necessary evil in order to get to a renewable energy world. “ We knew that the increased use of coal and gas power plants would result in increased CO2 emissions. But the statement that nuclear energy was maybe not so bad after all is not true. We were addicted to nuclear energy and that addiction made us vulnerable. That is what Fessenheim has shown us. Today, we are not capable yet to run Europe entirely on renewable energy but the switch-over rate is incredible. Money is being invested in production capacity of solar panels and wind turbines and the knowledge of how to use our power network efficiently is applied, finally! The green future rapidly becomes reality. That would have never happened had we continued to walk the easy path of nuclear energy. We expect that 70% of Europe will run on wind and solar energy by 2030, reaching 100% by 2040. Environ- ment specialists agree that the temporary increased CO2 emissions are a small price to pay for the final result. The crash was necessary.”

19 December 2013


t the end of the “ Year of the Nuclear Exit”, a provisional conclusion is in place. The biggest surprise of the year is that the poor were victimized the most by the nuclear exit, and not the environment or the energy supply. Sociologists even speak of a new social gap. Whereas the European middle class and the rich were motivated by increasing electricity bills to invest in their own solar panels, solar boilers & heat pumps – thus becoming energy independent –, the poor remained subjected to rising energy prices. “ The poor live in rented accommodation ma-


naged by social housing companies that are traditionally much less insulated, and moreover tenants are much less likely to invest in green energy than home owners” says the Network against Poverty, a federation of organizations fighting poverty. The decision taken in the ‘90 by a lot of social housing agencies to heat on electricity only makes it worse. The government must intervene and it seems like most European governments have understood this. In the background, European governments are working on

he European manufacturing industry continues to collapse. The famous Audi factory in Brussels also had to close its doors. That means another 3,000 jobs lost after previous factory closures costed tens of thousands of jobs, in Belgium as well as in Europe. “ The car industry is simply no match for the high electricity prices today”, says François-Xavier Dubois, general secretary of the car federation Febiac. “ Before the nuclear exit, we were already looking into energy efficiency. And the measures introduced in the past few months, like more weekend and night work and production stops in the early evening, were not sufficient to justify our continued existence. The relocation of the European industry has now reached a final stage. After having gone to low cost wage countries, these companies are now looking to move to cheap energy countries. Only the green industry survives as the higher electricity price now justifies their investments. Europe becomes a real service economy. Production of consumption articles will happen somewhere else.”

a fundamentally different tax system whereby taxes are shifted from labour to capital & energy consumption. That would not only create more jobs for the poor, but would also free up funds that can be used for energy subsidies. The Belgian government wants to make green energy systems almost free for tenants. Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo is formal: ‘This gap must be closed at any cost.’ # (jh)




The great green life GREEN LIGHT Leaf Lamp


The Leaf Lamp designed by Herman Miller combines ingenious sustainability with elegant design: The Leaf gets its name from the leafshape it represents. Futureproofed, the online platform for ecological design, selected the desk lamp for its e-shop after a thorough test. The praise for the Leaf Lamp is endless: The production process runs entirely on green power. The aluminium structure is 98% recyclable. The light source with the most modern, energy saving LEDs of 9 Watt has a lifespan of no less than 60,000 hours. Depending on your mood and the moment of the day, you can adapt the light intensity by means of a simple button. The Leaf gets its name from the leaf-shape it represents. fpshop/product/leaf/Herman%20Miller/ lastcategory%7Cverlichting_1/


Eco wash ball

Just pour it in ‌ In the rush of every day life we are sometimes a bit too generous with our detergent, while that is totally unnecessary! A dosing system can help you to be more careful with powder or liquid detergent. And besides the normal dosing systems that detergent companies supply with their product, there is now the Eco wash ball, an ecological ball you can add to your washing. This ball contains small ceramic balls that soak off the dirt while using very little detergent. According to the manufacturer, detergent is not required at all for lightly soiled washing. And for normal to very soiled washing, you only need to add 15 ml of detergent. The Eco wash wall costs 25 Euro but will last about 1,000 washes or between 2 and 4 years depending on the number of washes you do. However, the Eco wash ball is also criticized. The Dutch Consumers’ association carried out a study which showed that there was no difference in washing results with or without the ball. But the positive point is that the dosing 26

system forces you to consciously add a limited quantity of detergent to your wash.


When using a washing machine, heating water demands the most energy: up to 90%! The Alfamix hot-fill system is a better alternative. It fills your washing machine with water that has been heated by your solar boiler. Electrical heating of water in the washing machine is no longer necessary. Very friendly to the environment and available in the IZEN-shop!



Blue Corner

TAP WATER FROM A BOTTLE Bobble Water is healthy but the recycling bag is quickly clogging up with empty bottles. Not to mention the cost price. An alternative is reusable bottles. They have been around for a while now seem to gain real popularity. Bobble is a reusable bottle equipped with a recyclable carbon filter that eliminates chlorine and other organic bacteria from tap water. Bobble was launched in America in 2010. Industrial designer Karim Rashid is responsible for the bottle’s cool colours and trendy look. Every filter can can be used up to 300 times. Depending on the format, the bottle costs 8.99 Euro (385 ml), 9,99 Euro (550ml) or 11,99 Euro (1litre). It can be cleaned with water and soap or with a brush also designed by Karim Rashid. Last year, the New Yorker also introduced the bobble jug, a fast filtering water jug

It’s common knowledge nowadays that electric cars are good for the environment. But their success depends entirely on the available infrastructure. Are there enough charging points? Blue Corner has thought about this and developed various solutions for electric car users. The company is convinced that electric driving can only be successful if the proper infrastructure is available to all users of electrical cars, bicycles and scooters. Charging points in public places are the ideal solution. The eNovates eBike Pro is such an example. This charging point can charge six vehicles (bicycles and scooters) at the same time. For cars there is the Blue Corner Home. As the name indicates: a charger for domestic use. Such a charger will be installed after a thorough inspection of the electrical network. In order to be able to guarantee a reasonable price, Blue Corner proposes rental contracts. For the price of 10 litres of petrol you can already get a subscription including your very own home charger.

FISH BOWL with ecosystem This mini fish bowl and flower pot from the designers Sheng-Zhe Feng and Ling-Yuan Chou is a true ecosystem: The fish’ waste feeds the plants, and the water given to the plants flows into the fish bowl through a filter. Thanks to the circulation, the water remains clean. On the down side, the fish bowl is very small and fish tank experts are doubtful about the temperature control of the water.

It has probably happened to you already: just when you want to record a breathtaking landscape for the next generation, the battery in your camera runs empty. And of course there is nowhere to charge the battery. That’s when you need PowerTrekk, a portable charger you can take with you everywhere. The device consists of a charger and a battery that can be used independently or as additional backup for your charger. PowerTrekk uses fuel cell technology that converts hydrogen into electricity in a clean and efficient way.

A TENT AS A HOUSE Orange Solar Concept Tent Camping is for many of us a way to come closer to nature, yet some tents are far from primitive. In collaboration with the American product designers Kaleidoscope, Telecom company Orange designed the Orange Solar Concept Tent. This high- tech tent has Wi-Fi, produces solar energy through photovoltaics and stores energy for the charging of all your favorite gadgets: telephone, gps,... The moving panels can be adapted to the position of the sun, an LCD touch screen display informs you about the level of available energy and being cold in a tent is also a thing from the past; as soon as the temperature drops below a certain minimum, the under floor heating kicks in! Having trouble finding your tent at night? Send a text message to your tent and it will light up! orange-pitches-glastonbury-solar-concepttent/ thedailywhat-eco-system-design-concept-of-the


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IZEN energy systems nv was founded in 1987. Initially called IZON cvba, IZEN’s mission has not changed, even after 25 years in business: IZE...

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