Science will provide consumer’s request. Demand for sustainable development will be satisfied
Science as the main driver of technological innovations should offer solutions and opportunities for the production, storage, transmission and consumption of energy without harming the environment and future generations. This opinion was shared by the participants of the session: ‘Mission possible: scientific response to universal energy challenges’ which was held as a part of the Russian Energy Week International Forum. With the support of political will and effective intersectoral collaboration, it is able to provide a new quality of life for all human beings on the planet. The Global Energy Prize laureates and the Global Energy Prize International Award Committee members have made these conclusions at the session organized by the Global Energy Association for the development of international research and projects in the field of energy.
The world is entering new technological cycle, where the main where the major “customer” of sustainable development is not financial or political institutions, but the consumer. Taking into consideration the fact that by the 2050 the world’s population will be about 10 billion people, today the customer is formulating requirements for the new quality of life and dictates the need to introduce new tools to make the transition to a sustainable and reliable world that meets all modern challenges. As the end payer for resources, the consumer will choose smart technologies that provide the ability of efficient use of energy and optimization of its losses during production, transportation and sale. «The main way to improve the efficiency of existing energy systems is integration, in which energy assets, the experience previously accumulated by states, and the interaction of international institutions to accelerate the unification processes play a significant role. Developments such as smart grids, actively adaptive grids, the introduction of new materials and technologies for energy transfer and energy storage devices that will smooth out peak loads are of crucial importance,” considers Oleg Budargin, Chairman of the Global Energy Association’s Board of Trustees; Vice-Chairman of the World Energy Council.
It is obvious that in the future, demand for electricity will continue to grow. This means that in production using fossil fuels, it is necessary to develop carbon capture and storage technologies in order to achieve zero emissions by 2050. The ‘Allam cycle’ gives such opportunities. The author of technology is Rodney John Allam, the 2012 Global Energy Prize laureate; Member of the IPCC, awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. The technology allows to burn hydrocarbon fuel with the use of carbon dioxide in the energy cycle as a circulating working environment. The scientist is convinced that the replacement of aging polluting systems (and the majority of emissions provides coal of different grades) should be carried out with the simultaneous implementation of new systems with close to zero CO2 emissions. Moreover, this fundamental task requires solving mainly political, not technical problems.
From this point of view Rae Kwon Chung the Global Energy Prize International Award Committee Chairman; UN Secretary-General’s High-level Expert and Leaders Panel (HELP) on water and disasters, Adviser to the Chair, awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 had also pointed out that innovations must be driven by powerful administrative decisions and the political will of different countries. Recent UK statements to ensure zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (Net Zero Target) and Germany’s plan to stop burning coal by 2038 are a clear example of a political signal to key players in the energy market. Another important step towards global energy transformation should be the transition from subsidizing fossil fuel production to supporting renewable energy.
At the same time, there is no doubt that without solidarity and consolidation of actions it is impossible to implement the UN SDGs. Marta Bonifert, the Global Energy Prize International Award Committee member; Hungarian Business Leaders Forum (HBLF), Board Member, Sustainability Work Stream Leader noted that success in achieving sustainable energy depends on intersectoral collaboration, that means collaboration of governments, supranational organizations, the private sector and civil society in order to build a new economic and financial model for the benefit of humanity. For the effective development of such interaction, the world needs “accelerators”, they are able, with the help of the media, to show technologies that should be supported by politicians and accepted for universal implementation. “The Global Energy Prize is an excellent example of such an accelerator, as well as the technological foundation of an environmentally sustainable future. The best proof of this are developments of the 2019 laureates - professors Frede Blaabjerg (Denmark) and Khalil Amine (USA), who solve the problems of storage and integration a large number of energy sources into the network,” concluded the expert.
In his turn professor Frede Blaabjerg, Head of the Aalborg University Center of reliable power electronics (CORPE) is convinced that power electronics is a key technology for the conversion of electricity, which increases the efficiency of its use and stimulates the further development of renewable generation. «It is important for us to electrify society as much as possible - in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and transport systems. And for such work, we urgently need advanced technologies for storing resources and energy storages that flexibly adapt to loads».
In this context, according to the professor Khalil Amine, Argonne Distinguished Fellow and the Manager of the Advanced Lithium Battery Technology Group at Argonne National Laboratory the cost of the batteries is biggest issue for mass electrification of the world. “Now the cost is about 190 dollars per kWh. It should be reduced to $ 80 per kWh, so that the costs are comparable to the costs of ordinary cars with internal combustion engines. To expand the use of electric vehicles, a battery capable of providing 350-400 W / kg (more than 1000 W / l) has to be developed. Next-generation advanced lithium-ion batteries can develop such potential,” pointed out the scientist. In particular, the NMC cathode developed by the scientist in conjunction with a Si-C composite anode provides such opportunities. Due to the low energy capacity, such battery will not be in demand in the automotive sector, but it has excellent potential for the use in power grid.
In general, the participants of the session concluded that developed and developing countries will follow the UN SDGs in different ways, but their achievement is quite realistic.
Technologies for a sustainable future exist. The science is able to fulfill the “order” of the consumer - for affordable and reliable energy resources that provide a new quality of life to all the human beings on our planet.