Henrik Lund: we look upon the whole energy sector as a cross entity sector
It is impossible to solve the problems of integrating various energy sources into a single system without looking at energy as a cross entity sector , said Henrik Lund, a nominee for the Global Energy Prize, professor at the University of Aalborg and member of the board of directors of the international Grøn Energi Foundation. Watch the full interview for the details.
Pavel Korolev: Hello everyone! This is the next chat with the nominees from our shortlist and in touch with us is Henrik Lund. Hello, sir.
Henrik Lund: Hello.
Pavel Korolev: My name is Pavel Korolev, vice president for development and projects of the Global Energy Association with me today is press secretary of the Global Energy Association Anna Butkovskaya. For those of our subscribers, who don't know Professor Lund was nominated for being the architect behind the advanced energy system analysis software Energy plan which is a freeware used worldwide, that have formed the basis of more than 100 peer-reviewed journal papers around the world. Many of your articles are devoted to forecasts and prognosis, so I would like to ask a question, that bothers a lot of political leaders around the world, what should be the first feasible step towards clean energy transition?
Henrik Lund: Oh, I think there are many feasible steps. What we do with the software, that we have developed, and I have been the architect behind, is that we provide researchers, but also very often professionals and others with a tool to design, how the future could shape in a green transition in the far future, but of course you can use that to identify the first steps. But in my view, there's not one first step, there's a lot of first steps, there's a lot of things, we already can do now. We have the technology, a lot of energy efficiency measures. We can insulate the houses, we can do electricity savings, we can do a lot of things, and we also have the technology to build the first renewable sources, the wind turbines, the PV. So, there's a number of things we can do, some of the things that is a little hot we already know now, that's the transport sector to some extent. Also, some of the industrial things, so this is where we may need to develop the technology further before we can do the real steps, but we can still do steps like electric cars and a number of other things. Also, so that's a number of first steps, we can do now.
Pavel Korolev: Thank you, sir and can you tell us about the Energy plan itself?
Henrik Lund: Yes, it's the software, that we have designed and it's a software that is a freelancer and is used by many researchers, we have done Phd courses for many years, like 15 or 20 years and developed it further. It's been the basis of many Phd stages around the world, and there's a software, so you can calculate into the future what will happen, when we build a lot of wind turbines, as we have done in in Denmark. But also, if you want energy efficiency, like a combined heat and power… and then you can heat your houses much more efficient and all the sort of things. And it's very important for the model, that it can calculate in all steps and one other thing, that is very important and based on all the studies we have done, is that we look upon the whole energy sector as a cross entity sector, so we think, that the electricity sector cannot solve the integration of wind and PV on its own, and we cannot solve the problem, as if we only look at one sector, there's also the healing sectors ,that's the cooling plus industry, that the transport and when we look upon this cross section, that we have a chance of doing the green transition in a efficient and technological reliable and also affordable way, and some of the key points in the software is that we can play around with different types of energy storage, because it's so much more affordable to store heat and liquid fuel and gas, than it is to try to store electricity. And, this is how the model can identify those options and what kind of conversion technology between the sectors is good. That's a short description.
Anna Butkovskaya: Professor, talking about heat. You have devoted a lot of work to heat problems. So, today the cost of saving heat becomes even more expensive than the cost of sustainable heat supply. Society is overinvesting in heat saving measures. How do you think where's the balance between saving heat and supplying heat?
Henrik Lund: Yeah, that’s right. That is very good question actually. I looked a lot into that, and also I would like to say, that very often different technology asked what is our role in this and that there are sometimes fights like here, between producing heat or saving heat, and all kinds of other fights between wind turbines or PV, and so. On the way, we think about it and the way we also analyse it, the tool here is that every technology has its role in this. It's identifying the role. You cannot identify the role by looking at the individual technology alone, you'll have to look upon it as a system with all the other technology and see how they can make one another better. It's a little bit like putting a football team together. You like to put people together, who can make one another better. So, we would like to design the system, so they can make one another better. And coming back to your question here, when we analyse savings and heating together with reproduction, for example, with district heating, I mean the acidities, they can make one another better, because if you wish to really have an efficient district heating or individual heat pump for that matter, then it really depends on what the temperature level you have to deliver the heat with. If you insulate your house, have an existing building, and insulated then you can lower the demand for how high the temperature need to be, in order to heat that building , so if you do both, then both will become more efficient. If you do it hand by hand, and that is some of the things we advocate and then to give a more precise answer to your question, we analysed it for many countries, the typical answer is, it little bit 50/50. You should do energy efficiencies still insulating the houses and so on. Maybe decrease existing demands with around 40 percent and the rest you should produce, and you should produce it in any efficient district heating or individual heat pumps. That will very often not all countries and they are different between the South and the North and so on. But in general, that will generate a very efficient team of technologies with the work together and we make one another better.
Pavel Korolev: Thank you. The energy industry is at crossroads. Today we need some public regulations. The important question is, who should regulate public utilities?
Henrik Lund: Yeah, that's very good question. And I mean, they're very often asked coming from Denmark, where I'm from, how is it, that you have so much district heating and how is it that all the consumers trust the big heating companies and so on. And there are different ways of doing it and this will differ from country to country, because we have a different history, how we regulate. But just to say, some of the things, that we have a very good experience with Denmark, that is to have district heating companies, being owned by the consumers. So, we have consumer owned district heating companies, consumer-owned electricity distribution companies and then they can still help produce heat, compete on the price at the same time, because they can buy especially electricity, but also to some extent district heating in different places. So, consumer owned is very good. But in other countries like Sweden and others, have also third party owned, but then they have a regulation, so they cannot misuse the monopoly to overcharge the consumers, but I will personally advocate consumer - owner that's a very good way of generating the trust between the consumer and the company, and also making a production, in which the consumers are not misused.
Pavel Korolev: You believe in design of 100 % renewable smart urban energy systems. But do they exist? A test case of Alpine city of Bozen-Bolzano can be an example?
Henrik Lund: We have made some studies together with people from Bolzano. That's one example, there are many others around the world, where you can definitely do that. And yes, I believe in renewable energy and a green transition, because I think the alternative is so much worse. I don't believe in carrying on, as we do now, we have to change some way and I definitely have been fighting and advocating that 100 % renewable energy is doable and not only doable, but also attractive and affordable, if we do it in the right way. But, that's also the challenge. We have calculated that for Denmark and Aalborg, where I live, but also many other places. So, we can demonstrate, how it's doable from a technical point of view and you can do it in an affordable way, and then, when we when there is big fight, how should we do it, and what kind of political measures should we do. And in my view, that will always be a process and a discussion, and somewhere you have to involve many stakeholders, both the industry and the government, of course, and also the all of the consumers and customers in that process. But I think we as researchers have a role to facilitate such a discussion and also promote strategies.
Anna Butkovskaya: Professor Lund, and one more question about renewables. So, we all know that smart energy systems based on renewables cannot be implemented without redesigning existing gas and oil markets. So, how do you think how will the energy market look like in 30 50 years? What will dominate in the energy mix?
Henrik Lund: Yeah, that's a very good question and absolutely we have actually done some studies, those are more looking maybe not so far away, but they're looking at least into the future and recognising exactly those problems, that you have here, because the markets, that we used to, have electricity based on that we have big power stations and some extents in the old days, they didn't even compete, but then they started competing in the 90s. So, now we have, what we have now. But we can also see big problems in that, because the wind turbines will compete at the price of zero, but if everything is wind turbines the market will collapse. It will not have the soil capacity. We have investigated a number of adjustments to that market, but definitely there need to be some adjustments to the markets , so we cannot maybe not do it, but the tricky thing here is, it's good to have a market, that can operate an existing population of wind turbines and power station the most efficiently. But a market that can do that is often not very good to secure, that you'll get the right investments in the longer term, so very often you have to supplement that market with investments and then you can have different markets also as we actually have now. And sorry about the gas, it is exactly the same one thing, that amazed me, when I realized, it is that actually in Denmark we have now built, so many biogas facilities, that even though we produce our own gas more than 10 % of our gas supply is now green gas, coming from biogas and this is being expanded maybe to 30 % within the next decade. So also there, but that can only survive if you also change the gas market and if you also want to integrate with the power tracks and this sort of things. Then, I don't think, that green gas will be able to compete with the average gas price we have now, so somehow we will have to say, we will not buy natural gas any longer, let it be in the ground, or we will have to somehow influence that market and be willing to pay more for the green gas, than we will for the natural gas, but again this is something, that will have to change gradually. But to your question in the far future I see a gas market with higher prices, so to speak.
Pavel Korolev: So, Professor Lund. Thank you very much. It was our pleasure and on behalf of the Global Energy Association I'd like to wish you good luck.
Henrik Lund: Thank you very much.