Europe’s largest port is no stranger to coming up with new sustainable initiatives, transforming how we live in an urban environment. From the Floating Farm – where innovative techniques and urban agriculture are celebrated – to the Porthos project – transporting CO₂ from industry in the Port of Rotterdam and storing this in empty gas fields under the North Sea, Rotterdam has elevated circular economy and smart city structure to new levels.
Energy Transition with a Plan
Such initiatives are made possible thanks to the city’s strong commitment and collaboration between the private sector and all the layers of government. Rotterdam has set clear goals for the energy transition plan and is acting upon them with the Rotterdam Climate agreement, signed in 2019 by the city’s government and more than one hundred companies progressing towards a climate-neutral city by 2050.
Alignment of these goals with the business events coming to the city is a crucial step to their development. Mirjam van de Kamp, Director of Conventions at Rotterdam Ahoy, says: “We connect with the themes of the city of Rotterdam as much as possible, such as Rotterdam as a ‘hydrogen hub’ or as a major international port city. For example, we will host the World Hydrogen 2023 Summit & Exhibition, and in the same year the World Energy Congress, where world leaders will come together to discuss the energy transition. True to tradition, Ahoy organizes Europort 2023, which, with 26,000 professional visitors and more than 1,000 exhibiting companies, is one of the world’s largest maritime B2B platforms and Ahoy’s own production.”
World Energy Congress 2023
The World Energy Council’s 26th World Energy Congress is about to take place from 4-7 December 2023 at Ahoy. Themed ‘Redesigning Energy for People and Planet’, the four-day gathering “will explore the role of connected energy societies in driving forward global energy transitions”, as is explained on the press release. Brought forward from 2025 due to the urgency to convene these unstable times have created, the local host (the Dutch member of the World Energy Council) and the venue rose to the challenge to put together an attractive bid, and clearly won the hearts on the Council’s worldwide membership which voted for the city.
“The Dutch member committee is incredibly committed to the agenda of what we’re trying to do,” says Tania Baumann, COO of the World Energy Council. . “They were happy to share their ideas and take advice from experienced partners. We had to integrate all that in the new environment and conditions this new date and location presented, but good collaboration was key to accelerating delivery of the Congress by two years. After all, for an international energy hub like Rotterdam where energy transition is evident, bringing ministers and CEOs, practitioners and people who are really advancing solutions for energy societies makes sense and is bound to create positive impact.”
A Sustainable Venue
On top of the city’s sustainable core, the World Energy Council was also inspired by the venue itself. “For us, the question is how we can have an impact on each other during our congress in a much more holistic circular way. And the right conference centre has an important role in that. Rotterdam Ahoy Convention Centre (RACC) have their own way in which they’re utilizing and managing energy on site. We can leverage that and organize site visits during our meetings, so such efforts don’t go unnoticed,” says Baumann.
It is true that RACC is a model for sustainable accomplishments. It is entirely gas-free, with solar panels and wind turbines used to cover the venues electricity requirements. A Thermal Energy Storage unit uses heat and cold collected to adjust the temperature of the space. Rainwater is stored in an underground water buffer and reused both for the venue’s purposes and for the adjacent park. LED lighting throughout the building and induction lighting in the car park area also provide energy reduction. And these are just some of the activities going on at the centre.
Bringing Excitement to Life
Dry sustainability facts and statistics are not really Ahoy’s style of doing business. The venue is striving to get the message across that visiting the premises should create and leave a lasting feeling of excitement. The new campaign soon to be launched, ‘Bringing Excitement To Life’, is an invitation to everyone to see the venue as more than a location for congresses, meetings, trade fairs and other business related conventions.
“No matter if one is a delegate, speaker, organizer, exhibitor, or artist, we want to create a feeling of excitement and enthusiasm for all visitors coming to a convention or event. The RACC’s new campaign wants to help create an impactful event through experiences that will not be forgotten after the end of the event,” says Van de Kamp.
And Baumann concludes: “After all, at the World Energy Congress we all meet to learn, exchange and inspire. We need to create more opportunities for experiential learning because at the end of the day excitement and experiences are those that stay with you the longest.”
Update: on 14 December, it was announced the World Energy Congress would now be held from 22-25 April 2024.