Today is World Creativity and Innovation Day, which celebrates the potential of creative and innovative industries around the world. Now more than ever we need disruptive solutions to decarbonise the energy sector. Let’s have a look at some of the most innovative ideas that came out from Central and Eastern Europe over the past 12 months:
Venture capital fund Inven Capital of Czech utility group ČEZ has examined some 2,400 investment opportunities throughout Europe since 2015, selecting 14 for implementation, including two in the Czech Republic. Companies from this portfolio have launched many innovative projects that will contribute to the fulfilment of global decarbonisation targets, whether in the area of hydrogen technologies, solar energy, energy efficiency and savings, or e-mobility.
An R&D project launched by MET Group energy company, Dunamenti Power Plant and IT company Navitasoft is examining potential alternative methods of utilising renewable energy sources and how optimised automated algorithms can balance weather-dependent, intermittent power generation. The key is digitalisation and another concept that is well-known in other energy markets: storage. In order to provide continuous supply, energy needs to be stored when the weather is sunny and windy, leaving the system oversupplied so that it can be released at times of low supply. Building up physical storage flexibility at such a scale is not viable, but digital, automated solutions can complement existing storage technology.
The Sustainable Heat Coalition brings together six European companies and their complementary technologies, including organisations from Central and Eastern Europe: Poland’s ConnectPoint and Hungary’s HeatVentors. Through the proposal of Team Sustainable Heat Coalition, Helsinki will be the first to showcase this with their district heating (DH) network. The Team will deliver 1,039 gigawatts-hour (GWh) of CO2-free, non-hazardous and environmentally friendly solar thermal energy per year to the citizens of Helsinki while maintaining existing levels of indoor climate comfort.
Scientists from Russia and the Czech Republic found a new, plasmon energy-based method to synthesise cyclic carbonates from atmospheric carbon dioxide. The reaction was carried out under sunlight and at room temperature, in contrast to conventional methods that require synthesis under high pressure and temperature. As a result of the experiments, the scientists synthesised cyclic carbonates from the interaction of CO2 and epoxides, used as starting materials. Then they irradiated this mixture with infrared light. As the authors of the article note, the synthesis process is comparable with similar methods, however, it does not require special technologically sophisticated equipment.
Estonia’s energy company Eesti Energia is testing a solution together with Tallinn University that would enable connecting commercial and office buildings as part of the energy system, increase the energy efficiency of buildings and provide more renewable energy to the grid by smartly managing their electricity consumption through digital solutions. Consumption in the power network must at all times be equal to the production of electricity. According to the company, the energy consumption of powerful heating, ventilation and cooling equipment often accounts for the major part of the maintenance costs of commercial and office buildings.
Russia’s largest independent natural gas producer NOVATEK signed a strategic partnership and cooperation agreement with Siemens Energy. According to the agreement, the parties intend to jointly develop and implement high-tech solutions to produce LNG, electricity, hydrogen and other products to maintain sustainable development initiatives and achieve both companies’ goals to reduce their carbon footprint and increase environmental efficiency. In particular, they intend to collaborate on projects to increase energy efficiency and the application of digital technologies, the use of hydrogen and other carbon-neutral fuels for energy generation, the production of green and blue hydrogen, as well as in solutions for carbon capture, utilisation and storage.
Largest Slovenian energy company Petrol and its partners were awarded for a common project, which is an important step towards wider use of renewable energy sources and a long-term reduction of energy costs. At the 22nd Energy Days conference, which took place on 23 and 24 November, Petrol received the Best Energy Efficiency Project Award for a project that created the first energy self-sufficient community in Slovenia: the idyllic village of Luče, a place famous for its excellent cuisine, the ethnologically entertaining traditional event Luče Day and the inherent wilderness of the Snow Cave.