Sustainable Energy: Challenges and Opportunities

Veli Lošinj (Croatia)

Veli Lošinj (Croatia)

Kulturni Dom of Veli Lošinj - Veli Lošinj, Croatia
Daniele Treleani (Trieste University & ICTP - Italy), Stefano Fabris (CNR & SISSA - Italy)
Developing solutions for the supply of safe, clean, and sustainable energy is one of the most compelling challenges of the 21st century. Science and technology are called to endorse this responsibility and to take this opportunity to devise fundamental changes in the way the world produces and consumes energy, so as to guarantee a sustainable development. The aims of the Conference are to provide a broad overview on the issue of sustainable and renewable Energy, to revise the status of the most promising technologies that have the potential to make a significant impact on energy solutions, as well as to outline recommendations for the global energy policy. The Conference is meant as a forum for exchange of innovative ideas, leading edge concepts, new technologies and devices, ongoing R&D efforts, visions of the future related to the general theme of Energy Sustainability, providing opportunities of communication between experts active in the areas of Solar Energy, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy and Advanced Energy Technologies.
    • Energy Planning: Morning Session Kulturni Dom of Veli Lošinj

      Kulturni Dom of Veli Lošinj

      • 1
        Welcome Address
        Speaker: A. Baldini, S. Fantoni, G. Ghirardi, G. Cappelli, C. Tuniz, D. Treleani, N. Zovko, S. Pallua, B. Frankovic
      • 2
        Nuclear Energy and Sustainable Development
        Speaker: Hans-Holger Rogner (International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA))
    • Energy Planning: Afternoon Session Kulturni Dom of Veli Lošinj

      Kulturni Dom of Veli Lošinj

      • 3
        Sustainable Energy: Challenges and Opportunities in the Adriatic Region
        Nowadays, the European Union faces crucial decisions about its energy future. Fossil fuels are still the principal energy source both for heating and electricity production. Sudden fossil fuel price hikes and the current global economic crisis have aroused governments to re-consider nuclear energy and to stimulate energy saving and renewable energy solutions over conventional ones. The goals established in the „20-20-20 by 2020“ plan will be, most probably, achieved in developed EU members, but are considered a stepping stone to the industrial progress in lagging-behind member states. It is impossible to foresee when the renewables are going to prevail over conventional energy sources. Probably nothing changes until fossil fuels become more expensive and scarce than renewable energy sources. Nevertheless, the EU has recognized the renewable energy potentials and it is employing great human and material resources in their research. As a result the EU is the global leader when it comes to solar, wind and biomass energy, though USA, China and India are catching up. In the south-east European region, the accession of Croatia to the EU will be followed by other countries from the area and common energy plans in the future are expected. Apparently, sun, wind, hydro and biomass energy are going to make the future energy diet of the EU as well as of the whole world. Research breakthroughs are also possible in the utilization of hydrogen both for running our cars and houses and as fuel for fusion reactors. Financial incentives, new building and transport codes, appliance standards are necessary to speed up and facilitate the arrival of the sustainable energy future. Doing so, we would be truly able to meet our demands without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own energy needs.
        Speaker: Bernard Franković (Faculty of Engineering, University of Rijeka, Croatia)
      • 5:00 PM
        Coffee Break
      • 4
        Technology acceleration towards a low carbon society: The role fo the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) in the framework of the SET Plan
        Speaker: Carlo Tricoli (ENEA)
      • 5
        Water Heating (market, barrierrs and European standard) and Electricity Generation
        The use of energy in the form of heat is one of the largest items in the energy budget. In Europe, for instance, it accounts for around 50% of total energy consumption: around 630 million toe, of which 383 in low-temperature heat and 247 in medium and high-temperature heat. Solar energy has to play an important role in the future energy supply scenario particularly for the countries in the “sun belt. It is true that reliable and mature low-temperature (<100°C) solar thermal technologies with several million square metres of solar collectors the installation per year provide a substantial share of the low temperature heat but detailed study still needs to be conducted to examine both technical and the economic potential of solar thermal technologies for different applications. The study will certainly help provide the European Union and its Member States with substantiated information on the solar thermal contribution to the 20% renewable energy target and its long-term potential. It is in the above context, that all important aspects both technical and economic that could help solar thermal technology to reach its potential, are outlined in the present communication. A brief discussion about the European level quality mark (based on the European standards for solar thermal collectors and solar water heating system) accepted by all subsidy schemes, i.e. “Solar Keymark”, will also be a part of this presentation.
        Speaker: Dr Vinod Kumar Sharma (ENEA Research Centre Trisaia)
    • Hydrogen and Solar
      • 6
        Spectroscopy for the study of Hydrogen storage in polyconjugated systems. What we have learned for future developments
        Speaker: Giuseppe Zerbi (Plitecnico di Milano)
      • 7
        Covalent Functionalization of Carbon NanoTubes (CNTs) and their Application to Catalytic Water Splitting (Energy Storage)
        Speaker: Giacinto Scoles (SISSA)
      • 10:30 AM
        Cofee Break
      • 8
        PV vs. CSP: alternative technologies?
        Speaker: Giovanni Battista Zorzoli (ISES)
      • 9
        Electricity from the Sun: A Bright Future Shines on PV
        Present state of the art of the photovoltaic (PV) conversion of solar energy into electricity will be given. The prospects for this very dynamic and fast-changing field will be overviewed, with the emphasis on promising new solar materials, new technologies, market specifics, like incentives, etc. The specifics of this still very young industry is that materials and technologies for solar cells and solar modules production, which have been dominating over 90% of the market for decades (monocrystalline and polycrystalline silicon wafers), will soon have to yield their dominant position to fast-developing new materials and technologies (binary or ternary compounds like CdTe, CIS, CIGS, CIGSe etc, in the form of thin films –amorphous, crystalline, micro- or nano-crystalline), as well as new, emerging technologies (‘third generation’ of solar cells/modules). Despites all these perturbations the field is reaching maturity, with the life-expectancy of the best mass-produced cells/modules over 25-30 years.
        Speaker: Uroš Desnica (R. Boskovic Institute, Zagreb, Croatia)
    • Nuclear
      • 10
        Thermonuclear fusion: the need for a rapid research effort in science and technology
        The ultimate aim of the ongoing research effort into thermonuclear fusion is to bring processes similar to those that keep stars alight down to the scale of a power station. At fixed ”burned” mass, thermonuclear fusion produces approximately ten mil- lion times more energy than that produced by chemical reactions. Thermonu- clear fusion can thus be expected to provide, on a time scale of a few decades, an answer to the world’s energy needs which are expected to continue to grow at an increasingly faster rate. However, before addressing the design of a power station based on thermonuclear fusion, a number of physical and technological problems must be addressed and resolved. In this presentation I shall briefly discuss the nature of these challenges and stress that solving them requires a well aimed and rapidly progressing research effort in different fields that range from plasma physics to material science.
        Speaker: Francesco Pegoraro (Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Pisa)
      • 5:00 PM
        Coffee Break
      • 11
        The Neutral Beam test facility for ITER and the IFMIF project for the material study for the fusion
        Speaker: Gabriele Puglierin (INFN - Laboratori Nazionali di Legnaro)
      • 12
        Sustainable nuclear energy; large scale production with proliferation safety?
        In addition to renewable sources such as solar and wind, nuclear fission is receiving new attention as a developed source of carbon-[MC-V1] free energy. This can be seen in the recent reports by IAEA and by changing attitudes towards nuclear energy in EU. There are some recent proposals by IEA and NEA for considerable intensification of nuclear energy development to 1200 GW by 2050. However, increased nuclear nuclear fission deployment is also a cause for legitimate concern. A much larger number of nuclear reactors would be needed for a major impact on carbon emission. The crucial question is whether it can be done without increasing the risk of nuclear proliferation. Specifically, can a larger nuclear share in world energy production, well above the present 6%, be achieved in next few decades without adding the proliferation-sensitive technologies of reprocessing spent fuel and recycling plutonium to the problems of the unavoidable use of enrichment technology? The answer depends on the available uranium resources and on the assumed period of uranium resources consumption. Selected consumption period would be a compromise between climate control requests and the technical and industrial realities. We determined the maximum possible nuclear build-up for the 2025-2065 period under the constraints of the estimated uranium resources and the use of once-through nuclear fuel technology. Results show that nuclear energy without reprocessing could reduce carbon emission by substantial fraction of the total reduction needed to bring the WEO 2009 Reference Scenario prediction of total GHG emissions in 2065 to the level of the WEO 450 Scenario limiting global temperature increase to 2 ºC. This would ease the task for other carbon free energy sources and give them the time for development. What is even more important, a period up to 2065 without reprocessing and plutonium use would offer a good chance to develop conditions for the safe large scale use of plutonium. Should that be achieved in these available 50 years, nuclear energy could be considered a long term sustainable energy source in the energy mix required for the climate acceptable energy strategy.
        Speaker: Vladimir Knapp (University of Zagreb)
    • Photovoltaics
      • 13
        Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells: Mechanism, Efficiency and Open Issues
        Within today’s global challenge to capture and utilize solar energy for a sustainable development on a grand scale, dye sensitized solar cells (DSC), represent a particularly promising approach to the direct conversion of light into electrical energy at low cost and with high efficiency. In these devices, a dye sensitizer absorbs the solar radiation and transfers the photoexcited electron to a wide band-gap semiconductor electrode consisting of a mesoporous oxide layer composed of nanometer-sized particles, while the concomitant hole is transferred to the redox electrolyte or to a hole conductor. Ruthenium(II) complexes are widely employed as dye sensitizers, delivering record efficiencies in DSC. For further progress, however, higher conversion efficiencies need to be achieved. New sensitizers with tailored optical properties and a deeper understanding of the interaction between the dye and the TiO2 nanostructured electrode are essential. As part of our continued research efforts in modeling the dye/semiconductor heterointerface, we investigated the reasons underlying the unmatched success and high photovoltaic efficiency of the prototypical Ruthenium(II) dyes. It was found that the DSSCs conversion efficiency markedly depended on detailed features of the sensitizer, such as the number of protons carried by the dye anchoring groups and the dye adsorption mode onto TiO2. Together with new design rules for dye sensitizers, our results open the way to the achievement of breakthrough DSSC efficiencies approaching 15%.
        Speaker: Filippo De Angelis (ISTM-CNR & Università di Perugia, Italy)
      • 14
        Plastic solar cells
        Recently, polymer or ‘plastic’ solar cells have attracted significant interest due to their potential for cheaper generation of electricity compared with conventional inorganic solar cells.1 This expectation is based on simple device structure and on inexpensive wet-processes such as screen printing, ink-jet printing, spray coating, etc. Other advantages of plastic solar cells are low specific-weight, mechanical flexibility, and easy tenability of chemical properties of organic materials. To date, most of high efficiency polymer solar cells employ a bulk heterojunction 2 nanostructure made of an electron-donating conjugated polymer and an electron-accepting soluble fullerene. Currently, the efficiency that can be reached with this kind of cells exceeds 7%,3 while the predictions of the theoretically and practically accessible power conversion efficiencies are indicated to be around twice that value or even more for tandem device structure.4 In this lecture, some basics as well as the recent developments in this novel photovoltaic technology are presented.
        Speaker: Nadia Camaioni (CNR-ISOF, Bologna (Italy))
      • 10:30 AM
        Coffee Break
      • 15
        Nanotechnology in Photovoltaics
        Photovoltaics has the chance of being one of the important players in future energy scenarios. However, current technologies are intrinsically inefficient or quite expensive, and a true technological breakthrough is yet to come - although it might be just around the corner. The state of the art in photovoltaics will be reviewed, describing the fundamental limitations of current technologies and how "third generation" technologies are overcoming such limitations: It will be shown that all new approaches are based on engineering devices and materials at the nanoscale, as this is the scale where the key mechanisms that govern the photovoltaic effect operate. Nanotechnology and biotechnology are the tools of choice for such endeavor; One approach based on a novel class of photovoltaic nanostructured materials synthesized via low-cost colloidal chemistry techniques, currently being developed in the labs of the University of Trieste, will be described in more detail.
        Speaker: Vanni Lughi (University of Trieste, Italy)
      • 16
        Solid State Dye Sensitized Solar Cells: Possible Low-Cost Alternatives to Silicon
        The world energy consumption is rising, which makes the limitations of fossil fuels more and more apparent. Oil prices are as high as ever. If there is no solution to finding a cost effective and accessible renewable energy source, then the energy problem will become critical soon. This is certainly one reason that the market of solar cells is one of the fastest growing, despite the fact that the production of conventional silicon solar cells, with conversion efficiency of 15%, is expensive. Also they consume high energy during fabrication and the economic payback time is long, due to the elaborate processes that are involved in their production. Therefore, the interests and the perspectives for low-cost solar cells are very high. The energy payback time is also as critical as the economic one, e.g. the Latent Class Analysis evaluation of solar plants based on polycrystalline silicon cells, is calculated at 10 years in favourable exposure conditions. This means that polluting emissions of greenhouse gases will be reduced in the timescale of about 10 years, but in the near future it could consist in a strong increment of these. A possible alternative on silicone solar cells are solid-state dye-sensitized solar cells, which are considered as a promising technology having the potential to significantly decrease the costs of solar energy. The breakthrough was achieved in 1991, when Grätzel's group developed the first dye sensitized solar cell, with the demonstration of a system reaching more than 7% conversion efficiency. At the moment Grätzel's solar cells with a liquid electrolyte are achieving 11%. After two decade of intense research the commercialization is in reach. They have attracted considerable interest on the scientific and production community due their low-energetic production cost and low-cost raw materials, which offer the perspective of very low-cost fabrication. Also, their deposition not asks application of extremely sophisticated technologies, as in the case of silicon solar cells and they can be incorporated in present industrial processes. Solid state dye sensitized solar cells consist of a nanoporous interpenetrating network of n-type material (e.g. TiO2), dye layer like Ru organo-metallic compounds, that collect the light and transfer an electron to the n-type semiconductor and a p-type semiconductor that collect the holes (e.g. Spiro-OMeTAD). In some cases dye and p-type semiconductor can be constituted by the same material (e.g. CuInS2). All inorganic TiO2/CuInS2 solar cells have achieved energy conversion efficiency grater then 5% and because of the kind of technology implied it shows a promisingly possible integration with the building industries.
        Speaker: Hristina Spasevska (Ss Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia)
    • Energy and Environment
      • 17
        Energy from biomass: opportunities and risks
        The paper focuses on a current potential of bioenergy as one of the important forms of renewable energy. The opportunities and risks of exploiting renewable bio-feedstock are addressed from the point of view of sustainability of products and of related production processes. Specific attention is given to an overview of the recent progress in science and technology in the field of next generation biofuels from waste biomass. In this context, the integrated approach of agriculture and production of biofuels and chemicals/materials is the key factor for the viability of the merging bio-based industry. Since 2004, the Area of Chemistry of the International Centre for Science and High Technology of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (ICS-UNIDO) has developed and implemented a series of projects in the field of advanced chemical technologies for exploitation of renewable bio-resources for production of biofuels, chemicals and plastics. These projects include research, training and capacity building, and networking. Bioenergy and bio-based production is the topic of increased interest to developing countries and countries in economic transition due to the vast availability of biofeedstocks. For many countries there is an opportunity of improving the level of life through industrialization and integrated production on the basis of biomass. ICS-UNIDO is active in the promotion of international cooperation initiatives with partners from selected countries including CEE and NIS countries, Asia (India, China, Malaysia, etc.), Africa (Ghana, Tanzania, etc.), Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, etc.), as well as with centres of excellence in EU and industrialized countries. Counterparts of ICS projects and members of its international network include research institutions and academia, industry and private sector, as well as governmental, public and international institutions. Several examples of research results in the field of next generation biofuels and bio-based chemicals will be presented, such as catalytic production of hydrogen from bio-based oxygenates, valorization of lignin by enzyme transformations, cellulose hydrolysis via enzymatic and chemical catalytic pathways, etc.
        Speaker: Stanislav Miertus (ICS-UNIDO, AREA Science Park, Trieste Italy)
      • 18
        Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells: Mechanism, Efficiency and Open Issues
        Speaker: Nikola Čavlina (University of Zagreb, Croatia)
      • 10:30 AM
        Coffee Break
      • 19
        Geothermal energy for sustainable development: recent advances in exploration and exploitation of resources
        Advanced geophysical imaging and characterization techniques coupled with enhanced heat extraction methods can support the extensive utilization of geothermal resources worldwide. The primary objectives of the new technologies are the reduction of costs and risks associated to the exploitation of deep high enthalpy resources and the optimization of heat extraction from geothermal reservoirs. The heat stored in the interior of the Earth is a ubiquitous, clean, cheap and renewable source of energy available for direct use and for the production of electricity. The latter started at the beginning of the twentieth century (1904, Larderello, Italy) and was limited to areas characterized by anomalous geothermal gradient, i.e. the boundaries of tectonic plate, until recently. Two main routes can be presently considered to extend the use of geothermal energy and make such renewable resource follow an exponential development trend, compared to the linear one that it has been experiencing in the last decades: Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS, also known as Hot Dry Rock) and binary plants. EGS technology has been tested in demonstration projects but still lacks extensive application while binary plants are now producing electricity at several locations worldwide (e.g. Hilo, Hawaii and Mammoth Lakes, California). A necessary condition for the expansion of the geothermal sector based on advanced reservoir management and plant technologies is the improvement of the techniques employed in the initial exploratory phase for the identification and characterization of resources. Geothermal energy costs are among the lowest in the sector of renewable sources (around USD/kWh 0.12, estimated levelized costs for plants entering service in 2016, by U.S. Department of Energy) and it is therefore extremely competitive when the geothermal resources have been successfully identified and the characterization of the reservoir allows a sustainable heat extraction plan. Geophysical methods based on the integration of seismic and EM (electromagnetic) techniques presently offer unique opportunities for effective exploration and monitoring of geothermal resources. In particular, 3-D depth seismic imaging and joint inversion of seismic and EM data allow understanding of complex subsurface conditions and substantial reduction of associated capital risks in the exploitation of deep resources. Passive (micro-tremor) and interferometric methods further allow cost effective monitoring of deep reservoirs and optimization of heat extraction.
        Speaker: Michele Pipan (Università degli Studi di Trieste, Italy)
      • 20
        Effects of the Adriatic-Ionian Bimodal Oscillating System (BiOS) on the biogeochemistry and biology of the Ionian and Adriatic Seas
        Speaker: Miroslav Gacic (Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale)
    • Student Workshop on Case Studies and Concluding Remarks
      • 21
        Sustainable Solar Housing in the Adriatic Region
        The presentation gives an overview of requirements, plans and future possibilities for construction of solar sustainable buildings in the Adriatic region. Sustainable buildings have already become common in Austria, Germany and Scandinavian countries. On the other hand Italy, Slovenia and Croatia are increasingly participating in projects and presenting results involving solar sustainable buildings. This happens because one-fifth of a country’s primary energy demand is consumed in private and public buildings. Space heating, space cooling and domestic hot water preparation (DHW) make tree-quarters of a household’s total energy expenditure. Increasing concern about price and availability of energy sources has promoted sustainable solar housing. These new generation buildings are often referred to as passive and low energy buildings because they need as little as one tenth of the energy required in standard buildings, while providing better comfort. Development of highly efficient active and passive solar systems has potentiated the conversion of solar energy into energy for heating, lighting and powering appliances. Favourable ambient conditions in the Adriatic region present great opportunity to build sustainable solar buildings with less severe requirements than in regions having temperate or cold climate. More than a conservation strategy, renewable energy strategies are implemented in sustainable buildings for regions having mild climates. Nevertheless, careful design and construction of these buildings, both from the architectural and engineering point of view, is necessary. Building sustainable houses instead of conventional ones we would be able to consume less energy and slow climate changes while hoping for a new energy era.
        Speaker: Paolo Blecich (University of Rijeka, Croatia)
      • 22
        Innovative Latent Heat Thermal Storage Elements Design Based on Nanotechnologies
        Speaker: G. Sciuto (Università degli Studi di Trieste)
      • 23
        Hydrogen Storage in Nanostructured Materials for Automotive Applications
        Hydrogen is a promising energy vector, with an energy content (LHV) which is about three times that of gasoline. In the next future, fossil fuels will get more and more scarce and will eventually become no more feasible in the field of transportation. In such a future scenario, electric vehicles powered by fuel cells running on hydrogen are expected to play an important role in automotive applications. In this context, finding efficient, cheap and safe on-board hydrogen storage solutions is a primary goal. The presently most diffuse storing techniques, such as compression, liquefaction and absorption in metal hydrides, are briefly overviewed. Some of the main drawbacks of these storage solutions are the huge amount of energy required to compress or liquefy hydrogen (15% and 30% of hydrogen LHV, respectively) and the extremely low gravimetric capacity of metal hydrides (generally less than 3 wt%). A possible way to overcome these disadvantages is offered by nanostructured materials (NSMs): thanks to their very high surface area, NSMs can contain a significant amount of adsorbed hydrogen. A theoretical understanding of the hydrogen-substrate interaction mechanism is crucial in order to engineer NSMs with *ad hoc* properties. The hydrogen storage capacity of carbon-based NSMs can be significantly improved by properly doping the carbon structure with transition metal clusters. Particular attention is devoted to Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) and on the dependence of their storage capacity on pores? volume. Thanks to their potentialities and tunable properties, NSMs could provide a breakthrough solution for hydrogen storage on-board vehicles, thus catalyzing the advent of an hydrogen economy.
        Speaker: Isabella Mazza (Università degli Studi di Trieste)
      • 6:50 PM
        Coffee Break
      • 24
        Concluding Remarks