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    Europe: Infrastructure solutions: Power for clean energy innovation


    September 20, 2022 - ForeignAffairs.co.nz

     

      Source: European Investment Bank

      Renewable energy solutions

      Power generation innovation through offshore fixed and floating wind power

      Decarbonising the global economy will require significant amounts of decarbonised electrical energy. The demand comes from traditional applications based on electrical energy, electrification of energy intensive industries, transport and heat, and indirect electrification in the form of hydrogen and synthetic fuels.

      Decarbonised electricity generation is crucial to ensure the transition to a net zero emissions economy. One of the most innovative technologies in this area is floating offshore wind power.

      Offshore wind is expected to play an important role. That’s because of the amount of installed capacity required to deliver energy to local and international markets. Its large resource potential is a perfect complement to make up for the diminishing availability of sites onshore or near shore. Offshore wind power is already industrialised and fixed-bottom turbines can be deployed in a seabed depth of around 60 metres. This avoids any impact on other economic activities, while also benefitting from stronger and more consistent winds.

      Floating wind energy technologies could be deployed in deeper waters, thus opening new areas currently inaccessible to fixed-bottom offshore wind.

      Charging battery innovation

      Energy storage innovation could be a “game-changer” on the path to net-zero emissions.

      The development and production of batteries is essential for the clean energy transition as they are a key enabling technology for low-emission mobility, as well as for stationary energy storage.

      Battery technologies have emerged as a leading route for decarbonising road transport, and light road vehicles in particular. The transport sector is still responsible for 25% of global CO2 emissions.

      Stationary batteries can help bridge mismatches between intermittent demand and supply over timeframes up to a few days. They will contribute to:

      • smart grid development
      • enable increased efficiency in daily network operations
      • integration of renewable generation
      • the planning of more cost-efficient future network investments.

      In the long term, batteries are expected to play a significant role in managing the variability of renewable energy generation sources such as wind and solar. They will store electricity during periods of excess production and then discharge it when demand is high. Since they are highly flexible and rapid in responding to signals, they are a great asset to handle short-term flexibility and storage needs – from milliseconds to a few hours or days. From a technical viewpoint, they are a good complement to long-term storage solutions like hydrogen or synthetic fuels, which instead are better fitted to storing larger volumes of energy over longer periods, such as months or entire seasons.

      There is more to innovation in battery technology than just making them cost-effective. Reducing the need for expensive and rare materials used as inputs in manufacturing, increasing their safety, and reducing the environmental footprint of the battery manufacturing and supply chain are constant efforts necessary to improve this industry.

      Clean hydrogen in industrial innovation

      Green industrial innovation is essential to achieve the net-zero emissions transition. One of the most promising innovations is the production of clean hydrogen.

      Clean hydrogen has the potential to play an important role in achieving the EU’s target of carbon-neutrality by 2050. It can be a key enabler for the greening of hard-to-abate emissions from transport and industrial sectors.

      By 2050, electricity will be the dominant energy carrier, reaching a share of final energy use of over 50% (compared to 22% in 2015). In this context, clean hydrogen has a strong potential in several sectors, since there is only so much that we can do with electricity alone.

      Almost all of today’s hydrogen is produced within and for industrial processes from natural gas and coal, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The role of hydrogen as a climate change mitigation measure can be increased through:

      • electrolysis, using electricity from renewable energy, free from the emission of greenhouse gases during its production
      • the capture, use and storage of the CO2 released during hydrogen production from natural gas, coal, or even biomass.

      In transport, hydrogen and synthetic fuels could represent between 20% and 30% of energy demand by 2050. In industry, its use could reach between 5% and 20% of total energy consumed, probably more if intensive industries such as chemicals, fertilisers, ceramics, steel and non-ferrous metals make considerable efforts in research and development. In the power and heat sector, hydrogen could be used for long-term storage.

      To scale up supply and demand of green hydrogen and support the development of new markets, the European Union published a hydrogen strategy, which is part of the European Green Deal.

      In line with this change, the European Investment Bank signed in 2021 a memorandum of understanding on hydrogen with Flanders, to identify projects that could receive our financing and support their bankability.

      MIL OSI Europe News -

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