Excellent engineering: Hoe (goed) onderhoud bijdraagt aan de energietransitie

Michel Molenaar (50) enjoys working as a maintenance engineer E&I at Evos Oost in Amsterdam. With his knowledge of energy and process engineering, he follows the current energy transition with great interest. He is also working on optimizing his home’s energy supply. For example, he had his roof modified to accommodate solar panels. On his way to work, by electric bike of course, he looks back on what he has accomplished so far with a good feeling.

Start career
“After my mts Electrical Engineering, I started my career as an electrical engineer at Tess Installation Technology at the Hoogoventerrein. Here I did industrial installation work in the field of E&I. This included work on cranes, the modification and conversion of crane installations, assembly, disassembly and troubleshooting. After several years working in the industry, and a small foray into the utility sector, I found my niche at Afval Energie Bedrijf Amsterdam (GDA at the time) in the Electrical, Measurement and Control Engineering department. The installation of a waste incineration/energy plant was for me as a techie a “Valhalla” of technology. All facets are encountered here and it has laid the foundation of my experience.

Fortunately, my family was totally supportive of this, because you really need that to do it

Part-time study
After some ten years of working as an E&I technician, the question loomed over me: Is this it now? I was now 35 years old and had progressed within Afval Energie Bedrijf Amsterdam to work planner for Technical Services. After much thought, I decided to go back to school. A bold step, because it requires 100% commitment and a lot of time and discipline to do such an education alongside your work. In four and a half years, I completed the dual college course in Energy and Process Engineering (E&PT, formerly AOT) alongside my work. Fortunately, my family was totally supportive of this, because you really need that to be able to do it (I am very grateful to them for that as well). It was a very interesting study where you learn all about the operation of (all types of) power plants. This can be based on nuclear power, coal, (bio)gas, as well as waste incineration. Each fuel has different properties, differences in energy efficiency, different (flue gas cleaning) processes and advantages and disadvantages. The moment you get the chance to do this course, I would say don’t hesitate…this has really boosted my career with me.

Creating new opportunities
Obtaining my AOT training has allowed me to create new opportunities for myself. Now I enjoy working at Evos in Amsterdam, thanks in part to the opportunity offered to me by Robrecht Bakker of BuildingCareers. Although I had already been approached by several recruiters, Robrecht offered me a job opportunity that I had not yet seen for myself. Robrecht’s professional approach and solid content knowledge about the job opening and Evos’ organizational culture made me a super fun job. The contact felt good and the process went smoothly.
Evos is a company engaged in the storage, handling and trading of (energy) fuels. As a maintenance engineer E&I on location East, I am responsible for all E&I maintenance. I perform this work as part of a team of work planners and supervisor and various project teams. I am also Installation Responsible for high voltage (NEN3840) and soon for low voltage (NEN3140). Currently, my focus is on setting up complete basic maintenance. Working as a team, we ensure that all the equipment complies with laws and regulations, is NEN3140- and ATEX-approved. In line with the current energy transition, Evos is increasingly focusing on biofuel storage. Greenergy, our neighbor, is a producer of biodiesel from discarded fats. This in turn is stored and traded in and through our tanks. For example, the changing market has implications for the installations and maintenance for which I am responsible.

Tobias van Sabben

You need a certain amount of input energy to deliver a certain capacity of energy

Energy Transition
Partly because of my background, I follow the energy transition closely. The government’s ambition to have everyone drive electric as soon as possible, get rid of gas together and use only green energy (wind and solar power) is a complex business case. You need a certain amount of input energy to deliver a certain capacity of energy. I calculated the consequence of converting, say, 1000m3 of natural gas use at home per year to electricity use. If you are going to use a heat pump for this, +/- double the electrical energy required (1M3 CH4 is +/- 10kWh of energy content). With the efficiency of the heat pump, the calculation for this then comes out to double the average electrical energy consumption of an NL household. If on top of that everyone starts driving electric, the result is that three times as much energy passes through the electricity grid. I like to slowly build out my renewable energy supply at home to be prepared for this situation.

Be enthusiastic, show that you can do it and show perseverance

Career tips technical graduates
After completing my part-time studies, I taught at NOVA College for two years as a guest lecturer one day a week in addition to my work. This was for the Mytec mbo course, in the direction of AOT (All-round Operational Technician). Classes are different from the past; there is a focus on more hands-on learning and internships. Depth and perseverance sometimes get compromised as a result. Young people should then pick this up in practice. The great thing is that nowadays many traineeships are offered. For example, I know that at Tata Steel you have college and university traineeships where you get to experience all facets of maintenance in two years with plenty of mentoring and training in leadership skills, for example. You will learn how to work process-wise while working on your soft skills. I’m jealous of that now. If I could have done that earlier, it would have been a good start to my career. Finally, what I would like to give startups is: be enthusiastic, show that you can do it and show perseverance. Substantiate your technical choices, always look at the bigger picture and have fun.”

Also fun to read