Cop26, focus on innovation and storage tech. Renewables energy are not enough

22 December 2021

Cop26, focus on innovation and storage tech. Renewables energy are not enough

Beyond lithium Ion batteries: MGTES, an innovative thermal energy storage system based on a fluidized sand bed (Energy from the sand), enters the market

Reduced Greenhouse-gas emissions and carbon dioxide emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 for global warming to be maintained at 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels; zero net emissions by mid-century; drastically cutting other greenhouse-gas (methane and nitrous oxide) and new decarbonisation goals by the end of 2022. And again: to accelerate the installation of renewable energy plants and to reduction of coal-fired power stations and subsidies to fossil fuels.

These are the key points of the final 11-page document, called the Glasgow Climate Pact, signed by almost 200 countries, which mark the path to combat climate change for the coming decades.

Despite the observers’ dissatisfaction on final agreement (for example on coal, for which there is talk of 'phase down' whereas the initial proposal was 'phase out'), it is clear that the energy transition is now inevitable and irreversible.

“We are well aware that ambitions have fallen short of the commitments made in Paris”, COP26 president Alok Sharma told the conference in a speech shortly before the negotiations concluded. “We have kept 1.5 degrees alive. But its pulse is weak, and it will only survive if we keep our promises and translate commitments into rapid action”.

Global climate change is accelerating and we need to act now to avoid the worst impacts. The August report by the Ipcc (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) outlines catastrophic scenarios if we do not manage to stay below this threshold by 2050: droughts, rising seas and oceans, melting glaciers and floods would increase exponentially. “The worst is yet to come, affecting the lives of our children and grandchildren much more than ours", said the United Nations.

Political, economic or business choice must be made in order to protect the environment and contrast climate change. To meet the ambitious decarbonisation targets, electricity generation from renewable energy is our starting point. However, the intermittent and non-programmable nature of wind and solar systems makes it necessary to use instruments that ensure a constant generation of energy and the stability of the electrical system. For example, when the sun is not there, we cannot produce and release energy from a solar system. Similarly, when the wind does not blow we cannot produce energy.

So storage systems become more and more fundamental. They store electricity when it is abundant and release it when there is greater need, balancing the existing imbalance between supply and demand and helping to stabilize the network.

At COP 26, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said that renewables "may have limits". As indicated by the European Commission, Draghi explained, the renewables energy "may not be sufficient to achieve the ambitious targets by 2030 and 2050" and we must therefore "develop alternatives". Draghi added that the technological innovation "must be at the heart of the energy transition: we must accelerate innovation in the field of renewable energies and of new batteries, going beyond existing lithium technologies".

Aware of all this, as a company we have increasingly focused on renewable energy and the development of technologies aimed at reducing the environmental impact, in particular in the field of concentrated thermodynamic solar and thermal storage. We have designed MGTES (Magaldi Green Thermal Energy Storage), an innovative Long duration Energy Storage system, one of the most advanced on the global market. MGTES can be charged with excess electrical or thermal energy and release heat and electricity on demand, increasing the flexibility of the electricity grid and contributing to the decarbonization of any energy system. The storage technology is based on a fluidized bed of silica sand that can be heated up by renewable energy and / or solar radiation.

With this technology, together with our STEM CSP and CST concentrating solar solutions (https://www.magaldigreenenergy.com/en/stem), our customers can produce, store and release "green and renewable heat" as needed, contributing to the decarbonisation of industry and to the flexibility of the electrical system. In this way we help to set the path of the energy system towards the desired "energy transition".

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