California new move towards a more sustainable energy production

The California Energy Commission has reinforced its commitment to the development of more sustainable systems by signing an agreement that requires all single-family homes and apartment buildings, built from 2020 onwards, to be equipped with solar panels. This initiative originates from the necessity to find alternative solutions for the production of electricity, which is now still largely dominated by fossil fuels, that still has a total share of 62.7%. The objective set by the Commission is to achieve the “zero net energy”:each building will have to consume the same amount of energy that it can store with solar panels. This is not a trivial energy saving, considering that, according to forecasts, in 2020 about 117 thousands single homes and 48 thousand for multiple households will be built in California.

To use lignosulfonate to produce energy? It is now possible thanks to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The need to find innovative solutions to produce energy from alternative sources to fossil fuels continues to grow. An exemplary case is the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the United States, where a team of researchers has studied the potential of lignosulfonate – one of the waste products of the paper industry – in the field of energy storage and has developed an effective and sustainable method to use this biomass in order to build rechargeable lithium-sulfur batteries. Sulfur in its elemental form is not conductive but becomes conductive when combined with carbon at high temperatures. However, it can easily dissolve into the battery electrolyte, causing electrodes to deteriorate after only a few cycles. This technique provides an easy way to create an optimal sulfur cathode from a single raw material. But above all it allows sulfur to be trapped in carbon, preventing it from “mixing” with the electrolyte. The team of researchers also stated that the prototype of lithium-sulfur battery, which currently has the size of a watch battery and can be recharged about 200 times, will be further refined in the future by resizing the device to increase the charge/discharge speed and duration of the battery cycle.

07.04.2018 – GRT Group at the Climate Show 2018: Luca Dal Fabbro presents the two leading technologies of the group

Luca Dal Fabbro, CEO of GRT Group, will participate on Saturday, April 7th, at the “Climate Show“, the exhibition dedicated to technologies and services in the field of green energy, sustainable construction, eco-mobility and fight to climate change. Dal Fabbro will contribute to the “From Research to Market” workshop and will talk about the development experience and the application of Hyform PEMFC, the new system that produces electricity from formic acid in a sustainable, convenient, safe and efficient manner, developed by the Group in collaboration with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). The workshop will also be attended by Philippe Nasch – representative of Alliance Pour Innovation – and Sophie Jullian – CEO of Satt Pulsalys – who will discuss how best to support innovative companies in the green economy, facilitating the transfer of knowledge and technologies from research to business.  On the same day, GRT Group will participate, selected together with only seven other companies, in a Pitch Time in front of a jury of investors who will award the “most promising company” in the sector. Luca Dal Fabbro will present on this occasion the plastic to fuel technology, which allows to produce clean, ready-to-use fuel from non-recyclable plastic.

Hydrogen as one of Europe’s new challenges to increase the use of renewable gases

According to a recent study published by the consulting firm Ecofys – and commissioned by the Gas for Climate consortium – 25% of the current natural gas consumption in Europe can be replaced by renewable gas by 2050. The research has identified the role of the latter in a completely decarbonized energy system, and it has assumed that, in within thirty years, all the European countries will have concentrated their resources on the production from renewable sources and on the adoption CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) and CCU (Carbon Capture and Utilization) systems for traditional electrical installations. Thus, the net carbon emissions will be equal zero. Furthermore, the authors of the research have calculated that renewable gas production can be increased to 122 billion cubic meters per year by 2050. In addition, if not considering the industrial sector, it would be enough to use only 72 billion cubic meters out of 122 total in order to heat buildings and to produce electricity that can be used in times of peak energy demand, saving up to 138 billion euros. Finally, the study provides an estimate of the sustainable production potential of biomethane in the European Union: by 2050 it will be equal to 98 billion cubic meters (1072 TWh) of energy per year, while the production of renewable hydrogen, which uses wind and photovoltaic energy, will be 24 billion cubic meters.

19.03.2018 – Hyform PEMFC presentation

GRT Group and EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) are happy to invite you to the Hyform PEMFC presentation. The machine is the world first integrated Formic Acid Fuel Cell 1 kWe system, and it allows to convert formic acid into Hydrogen, and then into electricity in an energetically efficient way. That constitutes an innovative energy storage solution that supports the energetic transition from fossil fuels to renewables. The demo unit is the result of a collaboration of EPFL lab team, guided by Professor Gábor Laurenczy, and GRT Group engineers. The project was financed by the OFEN (Office fédéral de l’énergie) and by GRT Group. You can download an invitation and the program by clicking in the following link.

Energy, towards a culture of innovation

According to the 2017 Agi-Censis Report, “The culture of Innovation”, the most important answers to confront the complex challenge of sustainability and the decarbonisation of the economy will come from innovation. In regards to this, according to the data contained in this report, among the infrastructures that are most appreciated by Italians, we can find photovoltaic parks with a percentage of 82.4%, high-speed railway stations (76.4%), and wind farms (73.3%). While among those that are the least appreciated, in the first place are oil refineries with the 77%, followed by the coal-fired power plants (76.5%) and chemical or metal-mechanical plants (63%). There is therefore confidence in new technologies and new discoveries: the 65.6% of Italians are deeply convinced that we will all become producers of energy, thus generating a “smart-grid” scenario, in which it will no longer be only consumption to unite us, but also production. The 57.6% of the respondents stated that they were confident that, thanks to innovation, we would soon have all the energy that we need without significant impacts on the environment. There is a deep and widespread conviction that over the next thirty years we will witness and participate in profound changes in the energy scenarios: according to some people, it will be a manageable change, while according to others, this change will be predominant in regards to energy resources and it will give rise to an increase in social gaps.

Global Risks Report WEF: the huge climate risk

Extreme climatic events (typhoons, heatwaves, and floods), natural disasters, ecosystem collapse with loss in biodiversity, human inability to mitigate the effects of global warming: environmental risks are the most alarming topic under discussion. This is what has emerged for the second consecutive year from the global Risks Report, published by the World Economic Forum on occasion of the last meeting in Davos. It is interesting to notice how the perception of risk has changed over the last ten years: during the period 2008-2010, the economy and the geopolitics were the unknowns that dominated the scene. On the contrary, from 2011 onwards, the environmental issues have gained the first place, with a peak of concern recorded between 2017 and 2018. Climatic change is ultimately changing the risk management strategies of big companies and of public-private institutions all around the world. In particular, many energy utilities are aware that in a few years they could lose huge profits due to the obsolete and no longer profitable existing infrastructure, such as coal-fired power plants. As a result, the so-called “carbon risk”, the financial risk associated with global pollution and CO 2 emissions, is gaining increasing importance in the investment decisions of banks, governments and fund managers.

Energy: Europe sets the new efficiency and renewables target at 35%

The European Parliament has approved new binding targets at the European level. They expect «a 35% improvement in energy efficiency, a minimum share of at least 35% of energy from renewable sources in the gross final energy consumption and a 12% share of energy from renewable sources in transport by 2030». In order to achieve these objectives, the Member States of the European Union «are encouraged to establish the necessary national measures, which will be monitored according to new rules of governance of the Energy Union». 35% is the minimum target that is required by the environmental organizations and the renewables companies, and it is anyway a step ahead compared to the previous 27% target that was set by the European Commission. The binding 35% target for renewable energy has been approved with 492 votes in favour, 88 against and 107 abstentions and the MEPs state that «in 2030, the share of renewable energy must be equal to the 35% of the energy consumption of the European Union. National objectives should also be established, from which the Member States would be allowed to deviate, under certain conditions, up to a maximum of 10%».