My colleagues and I, David Garcia-Mendia and Ian Gordon, had the recent pleasure of visiting Amsterdam for the annual EMART Energy 2012 conference. For me it was a first time visit both to Amsterdam and to an EMART event. I have to say I wasn’t expecting what I saw; not the unbelievable number of bicycles making their way around the streets. I figure that next to wind power, human power is probably the greatest natural resource that the Netherlands has.

When you fly over the Atlantic and as you approach the mainland, if you’re fortunate, you’ll get to see the vast stretches of oceanic wind turbines that the Dutch have employed off their coastline.  And it’s almost surreal that vista of hundreds of massive wind turbines in Dutch waters. Renewable energy currently accounts for 4% of Dutch electricity supply. Its existing offshore wind capacity is 228MW, split between the Egmond aan Zee and Princess Amalia wind farms.

In contrast to some of the unexpected highlights I observed during my visit to the Netherlands, the EMART conference was in a lot of ways a familiar experience. It was attended by people we know through our business. It’s really quite funny that you go all the way to Amsterdam to meet your friends from everywhere else.

And being there in Amsterdam, with our friends from all over the world, brought home the fact that our energy and commodity market is really quite unified. And not withstanding spatial distance and language barriers – although everyone in Amsterdam appears to be able to speak English – you can’t help but notice that we are all struggling with the same issues or environmental interests. Whether that means we have to balance our energy requirements, our energy portfolios or our environmental interests. What struck me is the continued importance or vitality that good infrastructure makes to successful organizations in our markets.

It also struck me once again how underdeveloped the data management field is and how early on we are in the stage of the automation of processes between that market data and the end objectives in trade and risk management.

It made me feel fortunate that ZE is providing the services it does, but also brought home the fact there is a lot of work that everybody needs to do in these markets. The regulatory pressures, the market pressures and the political pressures, along with the pure physics of supplying people with the energy they need in their day-to-day lives, is not going to get any easier in the short term.

Again I’m very glad that I had the chance to visit Amsterdam. I was happy with our EMART experience and commend the EMART folks for organizing an excellent event. We can look forward to going to the next event in Berlin in 2013. We would like to thank everybody that came by and talked to us at our booth and all of you who responded to our Tweets and LinkedIn messages online.