Article by Dieyo Moya, Michelle Arellano and Pablo Carvajal
The recent 24th World Energy Congress (WEC24) organised by the World Energy Council in Abu Dhabi (9 – 12 September 2019) was a platform to discuss the key implications for the energy sector to tackle global challenges in a fast-changing landscape of disruptive innovation. World energy leaders from over 40 countries got together to address the complex challenges and opportunities facing the energy transition.
Energy Systems Modelling PhD student Diego Moya, in collaboration with Michelle Arellano – Members Services at the World Energy Council, and Pablo Carvajal– Associate Programme Officer at the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, reflect on the key takeaways from WEC24. Together with other Ecuadorian researchers, theycreated the Institute for Applied Sustainability Research (IIASUR|). IIASUR is a research institution that brings together researchers interested in Ecuador, Latin America and the Global South to collaborate and unite efforts towards high-end research that can foster sustainable development.
With the rising urgency of climate change and a sore need for global commitments to sustainable energy, it’s no surprise that intergovernmental partnerships and initiatives are taking centre stage these days. Perhaps the most important example from the energy sector is the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), a high-level forum of 25 countries advancing programmes to accelerate clean energy deployment, recently coupled with Mission Innovation (MI), another global initiative which seeks to build public and private investment in clean energy technologies. However, up until the most recent annual CEM/MI meeting, one aspect of these ambitious initiatives remained puzzling.
There was no structured presence of youth at the meetings.
Imperial College London will host the 2019 International Student Energy Summit (SES 2019, 17 – 20 July), the largest youth energy conference in the world, which will bring together over 650 students from around the world to discuss all things energy-related. The vision for this year’s Summit is ‘breaking barriers’ – it seeks to be inclusive and foster reflection and discussion across a variety of challenges unique to this point in time.
Chemical Engineering PhD students Luciana Miu and Michael Ehrenstein are responsible for bringing the Summit to Imperial, following a successful bid in 2017. Luciana acts as the Sponsorship Vice-Chair, and Michael the Finance Vice-Chair. Amidst busy preparation for the conference we spoke to Luciana and Michael about their research, motivations and hopes for this year’s conference.
Article by Dr Jasmin Cooper, Research Associate at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Sustainable Gas Institute
A large proportion of things we use every day have had to have travelled long distances to reach us. Be it fruits and vegetables grown in Spain or South Africa or electronics and textiles made in Asia, the UK is a large importer of goods from afar. The majority of goods are transported to the UK in container ships or freight trucks. While the transportation of goods is essential for maintaining current living standards and quality of life, the impact of importing things from other countries has a high impact on climate change and air quality.
Both the international shipping industry and global road freight sector contributed 2.6% and 7%, respectively, towards total global greenhouse gas emissions in 2015 and 13% and 17%, respectively, to nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions. The emissions from both sectors are currently at levels higher than they were 20 years ago, thanks mostly to the increase in globalisation, cheap productions (food, clothing, electronics) and disposable income but have remained stable since 2010. However, this has led to both sectors being large sources of emissions. The main cause for emissions is the dependence of fossil fuels; heavy fuel oil is the primary fuel in shipping while diesel is the main fuel used in heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in the freight sector.
The solar sector is experiencing by far the highest global growth and new investment in renewable technologies. Solar energy is the world’s most abundant permanent energy source: one hour of solar radiation is equivalent to more than the world’s total annual energy need. It is projected that solar energy will cover one-third of the world’s energy consumption by 2060 under favourable conditions. Solar energy can be converted into other energy forms that are useful in sustaining society; in particular, it can be converted to electricity by solar photovoltaic (PV) systems or into thermal energy by solar-thermal (ST) systems.
Christos Markides, Professor of Clean Energy Technologies at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London and Head of the Clean Energy Processes (CEP) Laboratory, recently won the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Global Award for Best Research Project for the lab’s work developing a promising emerging hybrid PV-T solar-energy technology, which synergistically integrates PV and ST technologies, and is capable of delivering both electricity and heat.