The Global Energy Prize laureates outlined the most visionary XXI century innovations
The 4th generation nuclear reactors, organic light-emitting diodes produced with 3D-printers and power stations with no chimneys – The Global Energy Prize laureates gathered to discuss the most visionary energy innovations of the nearest future. On December, 2 The Global Energy Prize Summit 2015 was held in Politecnico di Milano.
The Global Energy Prize and the Nobel Prize laureate Rodney John Allam opened the summit with discussing the environmental issues. “Rapid economic growth always leads to the air pollution, inevitably resulting into global warming. It should be stated that Russia was affected by the global warming pretty badly. For instance, the climate of East Siberia region grew warmer by an average of 2.5 degrees over the past 100 years. Taking into account the current trend of growing fossil fuels consumption we can expect that by 2035 the CO2 air emission will increase six times. Today oil, gas and coal account for about 70% of global energy balance and the situation is very unlikely to change in the nearest decades especially with the low oil & gas prices creating almost no incentive for that. In that context, the most sought-for innovations would lie in the sphere of clean energy systems, which do not pollute the atmosphere while still using fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide might be stored in the underground reservoirs and used to improve the oil & gas production efficiency or it might be pumped into deep underground formations. Another long-awaited innovation is a new type of eco-friendly car engines and fuels based on hydrogen”.
Aleksey Kontorovich, RAS academician, The Global Energy Prize laureate and Russian geologic exploration pioneer expressed a less conventional point of view. “According to the recent studies, the planet Earth went through 6 substantial global climate changes over the past 500 thousand years. And even if it was the industrial emissions of CO2 that caused the XX century warming, the reasons for the 5 other climate shifts have not yet been clarified”– stated the academician. According to him, "the excessive focus on global warming may unreasonably divert government and companies investment from other environmental issues, clean energy studies and many other global and regional problems of mankind. We should keep in mind that the resources we use are finite, and this is far more important than the global warming. Which innovation will be most needed? Certainly the energy efficiency improvement: spend less but produce more! Besides, the shale oil and gas extraction will become more intense” – claimed Kontorovich.
Discussing the environmental issues and the traditional energy resources exhaustion the Summit participants inevitably passed over to the renewables. The Global Energy Prize International Award Committee member, Asia Renewables CEO William Il Byun from Singapore believes that “the demand for energy is growing – but the bulk of that growth is in the non-OECD economies. In turn, the supply (and innovation related to such supply), needs to match the demand profile relevant to such economies. The energy demand pattern in developing countries is simply that of “more” – of any fuel, whether renewables or not. Asia has experienced sustained and robust growth (especially in so-called Tiger economies as well as China and India). A major factor has been the role of central bureaucratic planning and administrative guidance (national industrial policy). So now this industrial policy favors renewables --- but then which renewables (old or new)? As those are the countries with warm climate solar programs seem to be very logical - especially the new generation nano-panels which are 30% more efficient. New nano-solar technology uses nanosized crystal particles (“quantum dots”) layered between thin nanomembranes of silicon to absorb and transfer the solar energy. Returns are estimated from ~ 20% of investments”.
Energy efficiency became a key issue addressed by The GEP 2015 laureates from the US - Jayant Baliga and Shuji Nakamura. As professor Baliga stated, “a sustainable energy future is unachievable without a paradigm-shift in power industry. Unfortunately now we lose around 25% of generated energy while it's being transported through the power grids. So the new generation smart grids or digital grids are strongly needed. I expect the grids revolution and the energy storage revolution in 10-15 years”. The inventor of the blue light-emitting diode, Nobel Prize Laureate Shuji Nakamura developed the topic further. He emphasized that the light-emitting diodes illumination is the closest to the natural one (which makes it the most comfortable for humans) and it is 10 times more efficient than using incandescent lamps. The innovation of the future is an organic LED produced with a 3D-printer in households all across the Globe. The Global Energy Prize laureate, a member of The Swedish Royal Academy of Engineering Lars G Larsson agrees with his colleagues overall, but he still believes that the the nuclear energy will also play its role in the future energy balance. “By 2030 the safe and environmentally friendly 4th generation nuclear reactors will be put into operation, they will be 30% more efficient than current prototypes " - said the scientist.
The final document on the Global Energy Prize Summit results and decisions is now in preparation– it will be sent out to the leading international energy organizations by the end of December. The Global Energy Prize laureate and general director at Innovation Center Iceland Thorsteinn Sigfusson claims that the laureates need to create a think-tank meeting several times a year and searching for innovative energy solutions.
As a recall, the tradition of The Global Energy Prize laureates meeting with leading experts and government representatives was founded in 2012 in Moscow, where the first Global Energy Prize Summit was held. The next years the Summit took place in the EP in Brussels and in Singapore.