Horizontal, wide open views, the preferred landscape of many in the northern region of the Netherlands, playground of atmospheric action…. The wind moves in different directions, always present, always dominant even though it seems invisible. We know of its path from the interaction with other materials and beings. The sparse trees; sounds, branches that bend or break, canals that ripple, changing cloud formations. Birds navigate this space, and it is their movement, their choreographies that makes for interesting spectacle in the otherwise rather monotonous landscape, but maybe that is my biased judgement.

Wind and wind energy has long played an important role in this country, windmills that were engineered to reclaim land from the sea, to grind cultivars, among other things. But with the discovery of gas mid 20th century underneath the northern surfaces, wind has lost its edge. We value windmills for its heritage appeal, but modern wind turbines are not receiving a similar kind of an appreciation. That is too bad. 

I am currently involved in an art-driven project focused on wind and specifically how we can learn to embrace these vertical giants in our landscapes. How to integrate these energy sources into our ecosystems, to live together with birds and bees in order to satisfy the growing energy needs of the human population. Gas is still available, the large gas field underneath Groningen is not exhausted, but we know oil and gas are not our future, while wind is a player in our transition to more sustainable energy sources. 

The plan was to phase out Groningen gas entirely, energy that has supplied our country and many around us for a long time, and in doing so we will now become more dependent on foreign sources, Russian and Norwegian primarily. The current political situation, the invasion in Ukraine by Russian troops, has rudely uprooted these long-term plans. A united European front to respond with severe sanctions however has given confidence that the Russians miscalculated their abilities and economic resilience. 

One thing that bothers me though is the fact that the Ukraine will be a major player in the sustainable energy transition, and having control of this resource will provide economic leverage for years to come, I am talking about Lithium. We are largely dependent on Russian gas, but what if we are also in large part dependent on Russia for resources that can make our transition to sustainable energy possible?

There is another country bordering Russia that holds important resources within its geological layers: Finland. Finland is the biggest producer of battery metals and chemicals in Europe. Cobalt for instance, is another important resource in the green transitions and a large deposit of it is located in the eastern part of Lapland. Should we be worried? Wind alone is not going to carry us.