Global Energy and Kazan University pinpoint the research most in demand over the next 30 years
For young scientists, the key to success is not just being successful at conducting research, but also the availability of foreign publications and knowing how to present oneself. Those were the conclusions of participants at a round table staged on 7th September at Kazan Federal University by the Global Energy Association with the participation of the Global Energy Prize’s International Award Committee and local academics.

    The round table was the second event held during the Association’s visit to Kazan, where on 6th September, during a gala ceremony, the laureates of the Global Energy Prize were announced.

    The delegation visiting the university included Pavel Korolev, the Association’s Vice-President of Development and Projects, and two members of the International Award Committee – Marta Bonifert, Vice-President of the Hungarian Institute of Directors (IOD), and Dmitri Bessarabov, Director of the South African Department of Science and Technology’s National Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Technologies (HFCT) Research, Development and Innovation Strategy.

    “With the benefit of a whole series of projects for researchers starting out in their professional career (Energy of Youth in Russia, Breakthrough Energy in the United States), the Global Energy Association this year launched the “Young Scientist 4.0” programme aimed at helping graduate students and recent graduates make themselves known abroad,” Korolev said. Finalists in the programme will be provided with a mentor from among the association’s members as well as the opportunity to publish their work in the annual report “Ten breakthrough ideas in energy for the next 10 years.”    And what are those ideas that will be most in demand in the years to come?

     Marta Bonifert answered this question, linking her address to developments in world energy. “Mankind has undergone several revolutions,” she said.First, the agricultural revolution, the second one is the industrial, the third one, where we are living now, is the digital, and everybody thinks that the fourth one will be sustainability.”    In her view, the greatest demand in the world of business and science will be:

  • The search for solutions to help improve access to electricity in Sub-Saharan countries, where millions of people lack basic power infrastructure.
  • An assessment of the effects of the European Union’s climate programme “Fit for 55” calling for a 55 % reduction in emissions compared to 1990 levels. It will affect a wide range of sectors of the economy and spur demand for innovation in business and science.
  • Development of digital technologies to boost the effective use of renewable energy sources, which will be in particular demand as the energy transition proceeds.

Against the background of the energy transition, hydrogen will find a niche – not as an energy source but a means of energy. Dmitri Bessarabov devoted his address to the development of hydrogen energy. He believes that there are several options in hydrogen energy.

  • The first is linked to the expansion in the number of sectors in which hydrogen can be used. “As of now, about 80 million tonnes of hydrogen are produced every year – in the processes of petrochemical synthesis, in production of ammonia and methanol, meaning in the very sectors where hydrogen itself is produced.”
    The search and discovery of new ways of using hydrogen is primarily linked to lowering the carbon footprint. But it remains an open question in which sectors it will be most in demand.
  • Much remains unclear in terms of transporting and storing hydrogen. Whereas in hydrogen production, discussion focuses on reducing costs of existing technologies, in terms of its transport, the search is on for technological solutions.
  • For all these reasons, countries producing hydrogen place their emphasis differently in terms of developing a national strategy for the sector. In South Africa, where 80 % of the world’s reserves of platinum group metals are located, the road map is closely associated with is use along with platinum and iridium, both used in developing fuel cells. In Australia, regulators look more to export hydrogen. In the United States, the emphasis is on using hydrogen in industry, while in Germany it is more for innovations to become intellectual property.

“The time has passed when academics worked on their own to move science forward,” Bessarabov said in closing his address to undergraduates and graduate students. “The ability to work as a team and to adapt quickly to broad spheres of knowledge – and to be specialised in a specific sector, to have the drive to master something new – this is what is important for young people.”


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September 2021