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 Media  /  News
29/06/2018
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How research outlines the features of a future zero-emission energy landscape

How research outlines the features of a future zero-emission energy landscape

Circularity, integration, subsidiarity and involvement are the 4 words that can describe the forthcoming integrated, fully carbon-free, pan European energy system as revealed by the Vision 2050 Report presented in Brussels on the 27th of June. RSE’s role has been strategic

A low-carbon, secure, reliable, resilient, accessible, cost-efficient, and market-based pan-European integrated energy system supplying all of society and paving the way for a fully carbon-neutral circular economy by the year 2050: it certainly cannot be said that the goals set under the European Technology and Innovation Platform on Smart Networks for Energy Transition (ETIP SNET) initiative are lacking ambition!

The presentation of the Vision 2050 Report - Integrating Smart Networks for the Energy Transition: Serving Society and Protecting the Environment marks the first salient step of this impressive program.

“It is in everyone’s long-term interest to have a rapid and orderly transition towards a cleaner, more sustainable and less carbon intensive energy future […] For this reason, Vision 2050 is a document of crucial importance”, said Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action & Energy, in his foreword to the report.

Vision 2050 is subdivided into 4 main parts:

 

  • Energy Systems for European Society [protecting the environment, creating efficient energy markets, ensuring security of energy supply are the cornerstones of this section].
  • Towards Integrated Energy Systems [starting from today’s achievements, this section charts the way towards low carbon emissions models].
  • The Building Blocks of Vision 2050 [identifies the key enablers of energy transition such as digitalisation and local markets promoting citizen involvement].
  • The framework for Vision 2050 [stresses the importance of preserving Europe’s leadership in low emission systems and technologies, prioritising research and innovation].

 

In the interview released during the launching event Michele de Nigris [Director of the Sustainable Development and Energy Sources Department] highlighted RSE’s proactive role. “RSE brought the experience of its researchers, prompted lively interactions among many of the groups participating in the drafting, collected and interpreted the contributions of all members of ETIP SNET and other stakeholders (more than 2,000 comments and contributions). Above all, it played a coordinating and linking role for the group, producing a shared document that will set the guidelines for research and innovation in the years to come”.

So what do researchers and stakeholders expect from 2050’s energy system? Four words can best sum it up: circularity, integration, subsidiarity, and involvement.

Circularity, for every resource used will generate minimum scrap and will re-enter the circle: agricultural waste will be used for biogas, the CO2 captured from (bio)methane burning will be combined with hydrogen produced in renewable-based electrolysis to produce synthetic methane, the excess heat from each process will be used for other purposes and so forth.

Integration, because despite keeping its role as the main energy vector, electricity will be closely integrated with all other energy vectors with a view to achieving cross-cutting optimization featuring all coupling options (power-to-gas, gas-to power, gas-to-heat, etc) to enable storage and flexible operation.

Subsidiarity, based on the assumption that every local resource can be used positively under a shared-responsibility system approach where every user can trade energy. Such a market will enable peer-to-peer exchanges of electricity, heat, cooling, information, etc.

Involvement of every stakeholder from individual users to top-level authorities.