Technical University of Denmark: Before COP26: Five technologies to get us on track

COP26 starts this weekend in Glasgow and as usual, UNEP has published the Emission Gap Report right before the COP.

The report summarizes the state of the world’s CO2 emissions, and estimates the difference between the world’s expected future emissions of greenhouse gases and the emissions needed to achieve the international climate goals.

The Emission Gap Report indicates that global efforts are seriously lagging behind the objectives of the Paris Agreement and that, in the light of current climate climate-pledges; we are heading for a rise temperatures of 2.7 degrees this century. However, it also stresses that it is still possible to limit both global warming and the damaging effects of it, if we act now.

Below you can read about five examples of sustainable technologies, which DTU is developing and researching, and which can bring down the emissions.



Wind energy
Along with the increasing electrification, the world will need an ever-larger energy volume from electricity grids. And—globally—less than a third of the electricity consumption is covered by renewable energy.

In other words, there is a need to increase the production capacity of renewable electrical energy quite significantly, as energy must also be produced for Power-to-X, which can replace fossil fuels. In Denmark and many other countries, wind energy plays a key role in this context.

DTU is working on solutions to integrate Power-to-X directly in wind turbines, to optimize floating wind turbines, and to design wind turbines tailored to the specific task and location (Design for X).

All these parts will come into play when DTU helps develop energy islands in the North Sea, where the vision is to increase the number of offshore wind turbines and connect them to so-called energy hubs, for example in the form of artificial islands.

Read more here



Smart energy systems
Sustainable energy sources such as wind and solar energy are inherently unstable. To balance production and consumption, it is therefore necessary to synthesize energy systems in one smart energy system, so that electricity, district heating and gas systems do not function as isolated silos, but are closely interlinked.

The smart energy system also incorporates energy that has so far been lost, for example surplus heat from processes in companies, data processing centres, or refrigerated display cases in supermarkets.

DTU participates in a project aimed at developing the smart electrical systems of the future through the use of digitalization, big data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and IoT solutions—and demonstrates the solutions in living labs distributed throughout Denmark.

The goal is to design energy systems that are so flexible that they can work solely based on renewable energy, because the renewable energy is either used when it is produced, or stored and then used to fill energy production gaps.

Read more here


Read more about Power-to-X in smart energy systems here



Next-generation batteries
The world needs more efficient and sustainable battery technologies if electrical energy from renewable energy sources such as sun and wind is to be integrated full scale into all sectors.

It is a challenge in this connection that battery development takes a long time—one reason being that it is based on physical materials testing. It thus took 20 years to develop the lithium-ion battery, and the development of the next generation should preferably be much faster.

Among other projects, DTU heads a research project that combines the use of artificial intelligence with computer simulations, advanced physical models, and autonomous synthesis robots for the purpose of predicting much more quickly which material compositions have the desired effect, and designing better batteries.

The new method for developing batteries gives reason to believe that the next generation of batteries may be on the market within five to ten years.

Read more here

Or watch a short video on the BIG-MAP project here



Carbon capture
Carbon capture technologies are not very widespread on a large scale today. But that may change over the coming years, not least because the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has announced that carbon capture will be essential if we are to limit global warming.

Researchers at DTU are—for example—working with these two types of technologies and solutions:

Carbon capture using chemical techniques capture CO2 from point sources such as industrial and incineration stacks etc., considered ripe for upscaling. Read more here

Carbon capture where CO2 is extracted directly from the air via biochemical techniques, and which both holds enormous potential and is in an earlier development phase. Read more Read more here

DTU also conducts research into how already captured CO2 can be utilized for fuels, for example. Read more here



Green Internet
The Internet today accounts for approx. 10% of the world’s total electricity consumption and emits as much CO2 as the aviation industry. In step with the increasing global digitalization, the energy consumption of the Internet may double already by 2030.

At the same time, digitalization—and thus growth in the volume of Internet data—is a key element in the green transition. For example, the World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that digital technologies alone can reduce carbon emissions by 15% through digitalization of transport, agriculture, construction, energy and manufacturing industries, and smart cities.

It is therefore not a good idea to reduce global use of the Internet to make it greener. Instead, there is a need for technology and solutions that radically reduce the energy consumption of the Internet per communicated data device.

Among other areas, DTU is conducting research into new optical technology that makes it possible to send data over long distances using much less energy.

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