As climate change and the energy transition drive fundamental shifts in technology, industry, investment and regulatory policy, innovation and technology have never played a more important role. In this article, we discuss how climate change and the energy transition are driving these shifts, the technologies needed to meet net-zero and how this is reflected by patent filings in renewable energy field. We gather the perspectives of leaders and decision makers in the fields of energy, technology, business and government, presenting at the recent CERAWeek 2021 conference.
Insights: Chemistry & Materials
The Paris Agreement on climate change entered into force in November 2016, with a goal of limiting global warming to below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius – compared to pre-industrial levels. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), CO2 emissions from aviation in 2019 equated to around 2.8% of global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion. So, it’s probably no great surprise that there has been much research in recent years on ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation sector.
Last year construction started on a 250MWh liquid-air energy-storage system in Greater Manchester. Supported by a £10 million UK government grant, when completed the “CRYOBattery” will be the largest liquid-air energy-storage system in the world.
The solar energy industry has seen an extremely rapid development in the past decade. In 2019 alone, we saw over 140 GW of new photovoltaic (PV) power generation capacity installed, leading to the total global PV power generation capacity of 583.5 GW (580.1 GW on-grid and 3.4 GW of off-grid ) at the end of 2019. This means more than one fifth of renewable energy in the world today is generated by PV technology.However, whilst it is only in recent years that we have witnessed a dramatic improvement of the technical and economic feasibilities of PV power generation, it should be remembered that such improvement is an achievement enabled by nearly two centuries of technical and commercial development.
Today, the Prime Minister has set out the government’s “ambitious” ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, with those ten points being “built around the UK’s strengths”. 1.Offshore wind: Producing enough offshore wind to power every home, quadrupling how much we produce to 40GW by 2030, supporting up to 60,000 jobs.2.Hydrogen: Working with industry aiming to generate 5GW of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 for industry, transport, power and homes, and aiming to develop the first town heated entirely by hydrogen by the end of the decade.
Plastic is great. It’s cheap, strong, lightweight, durable, waterproof, doesn’t break down easily… the list goes on. Its diverse range of properties lends itself to many applications. However, the exceptional durability of plastic is something of a double edged sword. In order to meet the high demand for plastic we produce over 300 million tonnes of it per year, much of which ends up in landfill, the oceans and even our bodies.
Increasing focus is being directed to developing Li-ion battery technology, particularly in view of the expected surge in uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in the near to short term. It is not hard to imagine a future where battery powered EVs have replaced many, if not all, of the internal combustion engines on our roads. However, a number of concerns arise when looking towards this battery powered future, and highlight the need for robust recycling practices and technologies.
Last week, the European Patent Office (EPO), together with the International Energy Agency (IEA), released a detailed report on patenting activity in electricity storage between 2000 and 2018. An EPO press release is available on the EPO website along with the full report.