Wim van Swaaij


It must have been almost 40 years ago that I came into a more intensive contact with dr. Grassi and over  all those years my great respect for this man developed into a happy and durable friendship. Specially in the eighties and nineties when Giuliano was in charge of the renewable energy (photovoltaic, wind and bioenergy) R&D programs of the European Commission, our meetings, contractors meetings and contacts on conferences were focused on biomass as an energy source for which R&D he was responsible for over 7 years. It was a subject that I introduced at the University of Twente in the Netherlands in the seventies and that kept my attention until now. Giuliano developed an exceptional knowledge on this field combining broadness of his field of interest with an incredible knowledge of details on critical development items. It included production of biomass energy crops and conversion of residues, preprocessing, conversion processes to energy carriers but also implementation and integration in rural and other societies with a keen interest in and warm hart for developing countries.

While trained as a mechanical engineer (University of Pisa) and further studies (Aston University)  and 21 years of experience on nuclear energy and its metallurgy involved in development of Pu-, U- and Na- cooled fast breeder projects (Rapsodie, Phoenix, Superphoenix)  his extremely successful  reorientation towards renewable energy is quite remarkable.

In this respect we can among others mention his numerous patents in both nuclear an renewable energy fields, his international leadership and a long list of international awards he received in all these fields including the European Linneborn award for lifetime biomass achievement. Moreover he was a strong driving force beyond the European Biomass Industry Association and from 1994 on its secretary general.

Especially during the last twenty years I met Guiliano while participating in the preparation and  of the European Biomass Conference and Exhibition and in different roles during these conferences. It was here that we spent many hours and fine dinners together discussing a wide range of subjects mostly related to biomass or other renewable energy matters. At increasing age he retained an exceptional general personal energy and profound interest in the latest scientific and technical progress and was well aware and informed on these subjects. Also he continued to dream with great imaginative power on new and ambitious projects and was always busy to organize these with his very large network of policy makers, business people, inventors and scientists from all over the world. He was a master on interconnecting the right people.

We enjoyed these meetings very much and I found him despite his enormous achievements a very nice person, modest and very approachable with special sense of humor, working hard but also enjoying culture and arts and a well prepared Italian dinner with a glass of good Italian wine but hated the same less well prepared. I will miss meeting him very much as many other members of the biomass and renewable energy communities will do and I wish his daughter Angela and the whole family Grassi and all his friends strength and peace with the loss of this great man.

Rest in peace dear Giuliano you enjoyed a long, higly productive and successful life and when I remember you which I am sure I often will, there will be a thankful smile on my face.