Maria Luisa Castaño | Production of renewable energies to preserve life on Mother Earth
Thank you, moderator of the Session, table companions, participants in the CUMIPAZ 2017 Session.
I want to begin by thanking the Embassy of Activists for Peace for the invitation given to CIEMAT, and myself in particular for this event. My thanks and congratulations for the success of the organization and how us the speakers are being treated. Thank you very much.
I represent, as the moderator has said, an investigation institution that has been working for more than 50 years in the development of energy technology; we are more than 1500 people who develop that technology. This is the objective of my presentation: speak about the Production of renewable energies to preserve life on Mother Earth; particularly speak about the respectful energy technology with the Planet.
At this point of the Session, after participating behind some of the speakers we have seen, being in my place supposes an extraordinary advantage because we have already heard some of the thesis, and a great disadvantage because the list of people is too high; I sincerely hope to not disappoint the audience.
Energy is necessary to cover the basic needs of all the societies and guarantee their development. The successive industrial revolutions have always been associated to the massive use of a determined energy source: coal, in the first industrial revolution; gas and petroleum in the second; and the incorporation of nuclear energy in the third.
In fact, humankind has already consumed more energy and natural resources in the last 150 years than in all its history. However, and despite the contributions of the three industrial revolutions, society has overlooked human development, peace, equity, social welfare, and the protection of the Planet.
This development of the modern society and its industrialization, linked to the usage of huge quantities of fossil fuel (petroleum, natural gas, and coal) have provoked an environmental deterioration of the Planet very important and unsustainable from the energy and environmental points of view. Especially urgent ⏤and it has been mentioned⏤ it is the increase of the concentration of greenhouse gases in the terrestrial atmosphere, which causes the phenomenon known as global warming.
The existing correlation between economic development, energy consumption, and emissions of greenhouse gases must and may rupture to guarantee an economic growth based on the long-term renewable energy consumption.
It is, therefore necessary, to change the energy paradigm worldwide towards a production model and use of low carbon energy, which allows to slow down and reverse global warming, and relieve other environmental impacts produced in the power generation.
A scientific report elaborated and driven by the Stanford University is very encouraging, that analices 139 countries, which accumulate the 99% of the CO2 emissions; and concludes that in all of them it is possible to work with 100% renewable energy in 2050.
Furthermore, this 100% renewable future will contribute to a rise of temperature of the inferior planet to 1.5%, the creation of 54 billion workstations, the annual reduction of between 4 and 7 billion deaths by atmospheric pollution, the sterilization of energy costs, and a saving of more than 20 billion dollars a year in health and climate associated costs.
In order to undertake this necessary transition, in addition to a strong international political commitment and a radical change in the production and use of energy, an acute social change is necessary where the end-user becomes the protagonist of the transition, whose consumption decisions of energy products mark the development of the future energy system.
In this context, renewable energy will play an important role as it provides energy services in a sustainable matter. From the environmental point of view, it is obvious that the renewable energy demonstrates a clear advantage in comparison with its fossil advantages; but moreover from a social point of view, the fast growth of the renewable energy industry in Europe demonstrate that the promotion of these technologies offer opportunities for innovation, development for new commerce, and thus, for the creation of workstations.
The leading countries achieving leadership in the renewable energy market can obtain additional economic benefits thanks to the increase in their* exports; likewise, they can contribute to social welfare by increasing diversification and energy security in highly oil reliant countries.
Lastly, in terms of the economic sustainability, although some of the younger renewable technologies in their development have generation costs somewhat higher than fossil technologies, the rapid learning curve they are experiencing causes substantial reductions in generation costs, which will be prompted by greater scale economies, technological improvements and decrease in the installation and maintenance cost, as well as in the extension of the life of machines.
In respect of the integration of renewable energy in the energy system in general, an important limitation of the use of these technologies is the production of electricity in a discontinuous way, which on occasions is decoupled from demand. Its production is, in many cases, difficult to predict and not all have efficient energy storage systems; they are what is called non-manageable energies.
The solutions proposed so far go through the installment of backup water technologies, thermal power plants or hydroelectric power plants and - energy storage systems. The use of these energy storage systems provide numerous advantages, since they provide strong power, reduce the need to install backup power and allow for the offer to be adjusted to the demand. In addition, the integration of the distributed generation close to the demand management through smart grids will be requirements for this future energy transition.
Within the available technologies, I want to briefly mention some of them.
Biomass in the most used renewable energy in the world, and of which is expected a great development in the upcoming decades. In 2009 it represented almost 10% of the supply of primary energy worldwide, although its greater part was consumed in developing countries with very inefficient installations. Thus, the efficient use of energy of the biomass ⏤which includes agricultural residues, plantations of energy biomaterials⏤ it offers a job opportunity, environmental benefits and a greater support and rural infrastructure.
Biomass could be the energy vector that would allow the development of the developing countries, preventing the rise in energy consumption from endangering the environment and the supply security. Therefore, the so-called fourth-generation biomass is the renewable energy that has the greatest technical and economical potential of growth, both in smart grids of cold and heat associated with buildings with almost no consumption.
The Sun emits a quantity of radiation, and although the one that reaches the Earth is a small fraction, its energy is several thousand times higher than the world energy demand at present time. This great potential makes it the most environmentally sustainable option.
There are two main forms of taking advantage of the solar radiation energy: turning it into thermal energy or turning it into electricity through the photovoltaic effect. In our time, the photovoltaic energy is an efficient way of generating electricity, which starts to occupy a position inside the available technologies; its advantages are: unlimited availability, modularity of its technology, and a proven and reliable offer.
The thermal solar energy, on the other hand, includes a wide range of technological options that are based on directly concentrating solar radiation to heat fluids that posteriorly activate thermodynamic cycles and produce energy.
The three most used solar energy concepts are the parabolic trough concentrators with linear focus, the tower systems ⏤where a field of heliostats orients the reflected beam towards a focus located in the tower⏤ and the parabolic discs or small units with a parabolic deflector (usually associated with a Stirling engine).
The generation of electricity in the absence of radiation, in addition, is possible through hybrid systems that combine solar fuel with conventional fuel, or thermal storage devices, such as molten salts.
Wind power or wind energy for the production of electricity currently represents a mature technology with competitive costs. Wind farms are already one more offer in many countries and their contribution to electricity is a reality that cannot be dispensed with.
The challenges facing the sector are very attractive, and the prospect of reaching close to 10% of the total world electricity generation is an attractive offer for the sector. In the next 10 or 15 years, this sector will have to address the increase in the size of generators by reducing their costs, using new materials and incorporating innovative manufacturing means, adapting wind turbines to special sites ⏤such as offshore, extreme climates, typhoon zones, hurricane zones⏤, improving the penetration in the network through generation and control systems, and reducing the environmental impact associated with the reduction of noise and the recycling of the components.
But, without a doubt, it is the saving and the energetic efficiency the main tools towards a sustainable development, where it emphasizes mainly the bioclimatic architecture and the design of buildings like the main fields of its application.
It is estimated that by 2050, of the 9 billion inhabitants of the Earth, 70% will live in urban areas. Therefore, the reduction of consumption based on energy efficiency in the building will allow greater access to the comfort situations desired by the population without increasing the use of energy consumption.
Energy efficiency in the building is understood as a reduction in energy consumption, improving or maintaining comfort levels; which is achieved with the design of buildings and with the design of cities.
In addition, the reduction of the use of conventional energy through the use of solar systems for cooling, refrigeration, for lighting, achieves or can achieve buildings that are energetically fed from the Sun.
The growing social concern for energy savings leads us to the concept of smart city or smart cities, which use current technologies combined with the traditional knowledge of constructive and climate-specific solutions for the climate and the environment in which they are located. They also manage mobility in an integrated manner with the rest of the services and maintain optimal communication with and among citizens.
This way, the idea of a smart grid or intelligent energy network emerges, which uses information and communication technologies to optimize production, to distribute electricity and to balance supply and demand.
On the other hand, the concept of distributed generation provides a new opportunity for renewable energy sources and positions them close to consumption points, having almost no dependence on the distribution network, which reduces losses due to transport, variations of electrical voltage and manages the points of demand in a more efficient way.
At the Paris Climate Conference, held in December 2015, 195 countries signed the first binding global climate agreement and agreed on the long-term goal of keeping the global temperature rise well below 2°C, above pre-industrial levels, and limit its increase to 1.5 °C.
In the European Union, 79% of greenhouse gas emissions come from the production of energy from fossil fuels, together with energy consumption in transportation, industry, households and agriculture.
Faced with this challenge, the European Commission presented the proposal Clean energy for all Europeans at the end of 2016, whose legislative package aims to reduce at least 40% of pollutants compared to 1990, raise the share of renewable energy by over 27% by the year 2030, to improve energy efficiency by 30% with the aim that by 2050 the reduction of emissions will be 80% and 95% compared to 2020.
One of the obligations established by this proposal is that Member States have to make integrated national energy and climate plans for the year 2021-2030 and incorporate them into their national legislation.
Spain is immersed in this process, involving all affected sectors: industry, the environment, research, innovation, consumers and social agents.
The national plan that is being developed intends to cover periods of 10 years, offer a global vision of the energy system and define objectives and policies for each of the five dimensions: safe energy, energy markets, energy efficiency, decarbonization of the energy system, as well as research, innovation and competitiveness.
In short (and with this I will be concluding), it is necessary to change the global energy paradigm to slow down and reverse global warming, reorienting it towards a model of production and use of low carbon energy, breaking the correlation between economic development, energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases.
In this context, renewable energies are a key element and will play an important role in this energy transition.
Thanks to the constant activity in research, development and innovation, there are already technologies that allow satisfying the demand while being environmentally sustainable, without renouncing neither the economic development of societies nor their well-being.
These options range from saving and energy efficiency in the buildings ⏤in smart cities⏤ to the sustainable use of bioenergy, solar and wind systems integrated into microgrids and smart grids, located near where energy is needed and consumed.
Finally, and despite the strong international political commitment, what really sustains the new energy paradigm is a profound social change, where the end user becomes the protagonist of the energy transition, whose decisions of consumption and use of energy products are going to be the pillar of the future energy system.
It has been my pleasure to pass on all this knowledge, and I will be happy to answer all the questions.
Thank you very much for your attention.