Our society requires an ever-increasing amount of power and yet CO2 emissions from fossil fuels must be curbed in order to halt global warming. Indeed, the EU has committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050 with the strategy detailed in the European Green Deal. Though primary energy consumption can be decreased through efficiency and sobriety, these measures alone are insufficient. Energy sustainability will require an increased employment of sustainable energy sources but also the development of novel and improved technologies.
Amongst next generation energy solutions, batteries are one of the most important and necessary elements. They provide an efficient energy storage solution with the capability to balance supply and demand and thus the potential to transform fluctuating renewables into reliable sources of energy.
Biofuels are liquid or gaseous fuels used for transportation and produced from biomass materials such as plants or microalgae. Bioethanol and biodiesel are the two most common types of first-generation biofuels. Advanced next-generation biofuels made from non-food resources have the potential to sustainably contribute to a decarbonized transport sector.
Hydrogen is a technically viable, clean and sustainable energy vector with the versatility to operate across the transport, heat, industry and electricity sectors. It is thus considered a major potential solution and figures prominently within both the EU and French national strategies. The implementation of a hydrogen economy, however, requires the development of cost-competitive clean hydrogen generation, conversion and storage technologies.
Future energy networks will massively integrate renewable energy sources into the hybrid network of electricity, gas and renewable-based district heating and cooling systems. The highest level of efficiency will be achieved through the implementation of smart grid technology that continuously optimizes the network operating parameters.
Photovoltaic power generation plays a vital role in the global shift from climate-damaging fossil fuels to clean, renewable forms of energy. Improvements in photovoltaic technology have led to gains in efficiency and dramatic cost reductions, which, if continued, could lead to a massive deployment of solar photovoltaics with the potential to cover a quarter of global electricity needs by 2050.
Nuclear power is one of the lowest-carbon technologies for generating electricity and is expected to make a substantial contribution to the energy economy in the coming decades. The new generation of nuclear reactors will include improved safety features, higher efficiency and reduced waste generation.
The energy transition requires not only technological innovation but also societal innovation, including the large-scale mobilization of companies and citizens for the development of pioneering services, strategies and markets.
Example of collaborative project:
The Future Energy Carnot Institute – CEA, CNRS, Grenoble INP, UGA, Inrae, Université Savoie Mont Blanc
The insitute is a federation of 14 multidisciplinary research laboratories in the field of low-carbon energy technologies and covering the entire energy value chain, from materials to systems, for the development of innovative solutions to meet the challenges of the energy transition.