Plenary speakers

Andreea Strachinescu
European Commission Directorate-General for Energy Head of "New energy technologies, innovaton and clean coal" unit

Recently, there have been significant changes in the energy industry both in the global and regional level, which have set new challenges for the EU. The shale gas boom in 2012 rearranged the conventional relations of energy supply: the prices in the US have decreased two times more than they have risen in the EU, thanks to which the European energy markets were flooded by the cheap and no longer useful coal from the US. Due to the stagnating European economic environment and the overproduction of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the price of the crude oil has fallen by almost 50%. This fact had its direct impact on the national revenues of countries strongly reliant on crude-oil export. In 2014 the number of investments in clean coal technologies – after two years of decrease – had reached the 2011 levels in the EU, therefore it is important challenge to provide incentives to investors and promote these type of investments. The share of hydrocarbons in the EU’s primary energy consumption is 57%, while renewable energy sources make up only 11%, although this value is gradually showing an improving tendency. The increase in renewables’ share and the energy efficiency of the EU could contribute to a sustainable energy system less dependent on fossil fuel imports. Along with sustainability, the other two key objectives are securing safe energy supply and competitiveness. However, these are rendered more difficult by the EU’s high import dependency of energy and energy prices. For the problems mentioned above, the so-called ‘Energy Union’ could mean an optimal solution, which could basically create a safe and affordable flow of energy within an internal energy market and legal framework.

Professor Frede Blaabjerg
University of Aalborg - Institute of Energy Technology

The global electrical energy consumption is still rising and there is a steady demand to increase the power capacity. It is expected that it has to be doubled within 20 years. The production, distribution and use of the energy should be as technological efficient as possible and incentives to save energy at the end-user should also be set up. Two major technologies will play important roles to solve the future problems. One is to change the electrical power production sources from the conventional, fossil (and short term) based energy sources to renewable energy resources. An other is to use high efficient power electronics in power generation, power transmission/distribution and end-user application. This presentation will discuss some of the most emerging renewable energy sources, wind energy and photovoltaics, which by means of power electronics are changing character from being a minor energy source to be acting as important power sources in the energy system. Issues like technology development, implementation, power converter technologies, control of the systems, synchronization, anti-islanding, grid codes, system integration and future trends will be addressed in the presentation.

Nicola Armaroli
National Research Council of Italy (CNR) - Institute of Organic Synthesis and Photoreactivity

A brief analysis of the present energy system will be illustrated, with particular emphasis on unconventional fossil fuels and renewable energies, showing that the latter - and particularly solar energy - is the radical solution to the energy conundrum. To foster the transition to a sun-powered world a few key strategies have to be implemented:

1. increasing the share of electricity in energy end use;
2. establishing technologies for the manufacturing of solar fuels;
3. enhancing the efficiency in energy production and use;
4. reducing the energy consumption in affluent countries;
5. recycling of the equipment used for converting renewable energy flows, in order to secure materials available in very limited supply (e.g. precious metals) to future generations.

The energy transition compels the mobilization of huge human and economic resources in several scientific and technological fields, in connection to a knowledge-driven political action that must govern what is probably the most complex challenge ever faced by mankind.

Dr. Giovanni B. Bruna
Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN)

Dedicated research and development (R&D) and shared safety culture are key factors in the permanent process of improvement of nuclear installation design and operation. This presentation is about the European research trends in nuclear safety. Safety of installations has undergone continuous efforts since the first peaceful applications of nuclear energy were made in the ’50 and has been a relevant driving force for R&D in nuclear technology. This trend is even more strengthened as a consequence of the Fukushima events.
On September 21 2007, the EC launched the SNETP (Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform), aimed at supporting the nuclear energy through suitable R&D programmers in the fields of operating, under construction (GEN II & GEN III) and future reactors (GEN IV) and of concepts for combined production of electricity, hydrogen and industrial heat. Immediately after the Fukushima Events, the Governing Board of the SNETP, during its annual meeting on March 2011, gave mandate to a Task Group to investigating the impact of the Japan events on the SRA R&D topics. The Task Group’s Report, issued January 2013, concluded that the Fukushima accident did not radically change the content of the SRA “due to the fact that no completely new phenomena have been identified”.
The NUGENIA Association - established under Belgian law - gathers the main actors of the fission R&D community in Europe. It opens for collaboration and exchanges to non-Europeans partners and has the objective to promote and sustain R&D projects on the basis of a public-private founding scheme. The NUGENIA Roadmap spans all the GEN II – GEN III R&D topics, including themes already addressed within the pre-existing SNETP Working Group, Nulife Association, SARNET Network of Excellence on Severe Accident and European Network on Inspection and Qualification (ENIQ). The topics are split into 8 Technical Areas (TAs), ranging from plant safety and risk assessment, to in-service inspection and non-destructive examination, through severe accidents.
Even if safety R&D is not the main issue in all the TAs; nevertheless it turns out the structuring clue of the whole R&D approach within the NUGENIA Roadmap.

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