The Energy summer course: new players, new technologies, organised this week by the Gas Natural Fenosa Foundation in collaboration with the Universitat de Barcelona, analysed the new regulatory challenges and technological advancements in such energies as nuclear fusion, biogas and solar photovoltaics. Furthermore, the course examined the history of the players involved in global technological development.
The Managing Director of the Gas Natural Fenosa Foundation, Martí Solà, the Chair of Energy Resources at the Universitat de Barcelona, Mariano Marzo, and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Relations and Culture at the Universitat de Barcelona, Lourdes Cirlot, officially launched the course being studied by over 120 professionals.
The Global Leader Energy Practice of Boston Consulting Group, Iván Martén, opened proceedings with a talk in which he highlighted the constant technological evolution taking place in the energy sector. This development will become evident in the energy efficiency markets of Europe and the United States, which will post double-digit growth until 2020. According to Pike Research data gathered by Boston Consulting Group, the energy efficiency market in Europe will grow from 13.8 billion euros in 2012 to 29.5 billion euros in 2020, while in the United States it will grow from 7.5 billion dollars in 2012 to 19.9 billion in 2020.
Martén highlighted that the number of technology patents registered in the energy sector doubled between 1990 and 2010, and in the case of clean technology, the number of new patents has increased sevenfold. In this regard, he also pointed out that global public spending on R&D in terms of energy efficiency rose from 1.5 trillion dollars in 2005 to almost 4 trillion in 2013.
Policies that drive innovation
The professor from the ICAI-IIT Higher Technical School of Engineering and associated researcher at the Kennedy School and the MIT CEEPR of the Pontificia Comillas University, Pedro Linares, explained that Spain is a country where innovation is essential to reducing its level of energy dependency and developing increased industrial activity.
Spain offers good conditions in certain areas, said Pedro Linares, but significant efforts are needed to develop policies capable of suitably driving innovation in a sustainable fashion. These measures should include a strategic analysis, the promotion of private initiative, the improvement of institutional design, better coordination with other policies, and an effort in education and communication to society.
The Chair of Energy Resources at the Universitat de Barcelona and director of this summer course, Mariano Marzo, explained that the progress made in technologies for the extraction of energy resources means it is now possible to access energy resources that were previously too hard to reach. He also explained that more energy must be invested to undertake this extraction process, even though costs and environmental impacts will increase.
Nuclear and photovoltaic
The Director of Nuclear Generation at GAS NATURAL FENOSA, Victor Solá, explained the trends in nuclear technology focused on power generation and described a new system called Small Modular Reactor that aims to produce cheaper, more flexible reactors that can adapt to the needs of small- and medium-sized countries. Solá explained that many emerging countries that need to combine rapid growth in electricity demand with a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions currently trust in this technology.
The University Chair in Nuclear Engineering at the Barcelona Higher Technical School of Industrial Engineering of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Javier Dies, presented the advancements made in fusion technology and explained that the work on building the ITER nuclear fusion reactor in Cadarache (France) is on the way to producing 500MW of thermal energy.
In turn, the lead professor at the Department of Applied and Optimal Physics of the Universitat de Barcelona, Jordi Andreu, presented the current situation in the photovoltaic market, the technologies available and the most important developments contributing to the growth in competitiveness for this technology. He stressed that, following strong growth in 2008, trends in the Spanish photovoltaic energy market have stagnated due to legislative barriers and over-capacity in the Spanish electricity system.
Spain, seventh-largest producer of biogas
The Head of Biogas Projects at GAS NATURAL FENOSA, María Piedad Martínez, presented the costs, degree of implementation in the market, operating principles, general characteristics, and the advantages and disadvantages of the various technologies available for producing biomethane from biogas and solid biomass. She also underlined Spain’s potential as a producer. According to data from the EurObserv’ER barometer, Spain is the seventh-largest producer of biogas in Europe with an energy potential of nearly 20,000 GWh per year.
The Managing Director for Technical Management of the Enagás System, Diego Vela, examined the regulatory and technical challenges to injecting biogas into the network. Among the advantages of this technique, he highlighted its contribution to improving supply security, reducing energy dependency and achieving EU environmental targets. He also explained that there are almost 13,000 biogas plants in operation in Europe, of which over 170 adjust gas quality to biomethane for injection into the natural gas networks.
Closing of the course
The last day of the course will take place on Friday, with the Director for Smart Electricity Grids and Storage at Tecnalia, Ángel Díaz, talking about distributed power generation and micro-grids, and the Managing Director for Operations at Red Eléctrica de España, Andrés Seco, discussing the topic of non-conventional generation. Finally, a closing ceremony will be held by the Managing Director of the Gas Natural Fenosa Foundation, Martí Solà, and the Chair of Energy Resources of the Universitat de Barcelona and course director, Mariano Marzo.
The Gas Natural Fenosa Foundation
The Gas Natural Fenosa Foundation, founded in 1992, targets its activity at the promotion of information, training and increased social awareness on improving energy efficiency and technological innovation in the field of energy while respecting and protecting the environment, and promotes cultural activities through the Gas Museum aimed at preserving and spreading knowledge about the historical and cultural heritage of the sector. It also has a programme to support exports for small and medium-sized enterprises. Its international operations take place in Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Morocco, Italy and Moldova.
Barcelona (Spain), 9 Jul 2015