STandUP for Energy
Concerns about climate change require a reformulation of energy problems in a quest for systems alternatives with low impact on environment and health. Solutions are needed to mitigate and adapt to climate change while at the same time guaranteeing a sustainable delivery of energy services and, ultimately, the welfare of modern society. Solutions are to be explored in a context of complex human systems with close interaction with natural systems.
The STandUP groups envision a future society that is provided with renewable, highly reliable and cost efficient energy for its residential, commercial, transportation and industrial needs. This vision implies that electricity is supplied to these sectors predominantly using renewable sources. For the transport sector, combustible fuels based on biomass will contribute significantly in conjunction with solutions based on electricity as an energy carrier.
For the electricity grid, this demands interconnection of a large number of geographically distributed renewable energy farms. It also requires that the transmission and distribution system be built with components that exhibit low losses and high reliability and that the system is designed to manage the uncontrollable aspects of some renewable sources using sophisticated control algorithms and information and communication technologies.
Globally, renewable energy technologies still play only a marginal role in electricity provision. To change this, more efficient and cost-effective solutions need to be devised, while technical, financial and institutional barriers to the dissemination of renewable technologies are addressed. The integration of large quantities of renewable electricity into the grid system presents new technical challenges in terms of management and optimization of the grid system from the transmission and distribution levels to the consumer level. New smart power grids to deal with intermittent renewable generation and to enable the development of efficient power markets while retaining electricity supply reliability are necessary.
For both society and the business sector, an efficient road transportation system is of paramount importance. We rely today almost entirely on fossil fuel but sustainability requires new generations of vehicles driven by stored electricity, hydrogen or fuel from biomass. For per¬sonal transport electric vehicles will become common, if the cost-effectiveness and range can be increased. This demands cost efficient, compact, safe and reliable energy storage in combination with efficient electrical propulsion and other on-board systems. The plug-in hybrid is an important intermediate step for a successful transformation of the transportation system. In Sweden, the bioenergy sector, already important for heating, is becoming more diversified including electricity and biofuels for transport. In this context, the conversion of biomass as well as lignocellulosic remains from various end-products (pulp, paper, packaging, etc.) into fuels is anticipated to become relevant.
Development of leading-edge research
Our overriding aims are the reduction of costs for large-scale introduction of renewable and environmentally sustainable electricity delivered to the consumer, as well as the development of more cost effective and energy efficient hybrid and electric vehicles. The following research targets will, in the present call, be addressed within the context of their different roles in relation to our largest man-made system, the electrical power system:
- New renewable technologies as well as methods for analysis and design for optimisation of available technologies to enable cost-efficient large scale generation of electricity from renewable sources.
- Technologies and methods, including automation, communication, control, planning and supervision, that enable cost-efficient transformation of the transmission & distribution system to accommodate large scale variable production of electricity while retaining high levels of reliability.
- Technologies and optimised systems for hybrid and electric vehicles including solutions for grid supply.
- Biomass-to-refinery technologies, incorporating supply of biomass, plant biotechnology through bio/chemical polygeneration, for production of biofuels for transportation and production of electricity.
All of the above research targets need to be addressed from a systems perspective, integrating issues such as the environmental and social impact of technologies as well as decision making in and around socio-technical and technical-ecological systems. This systems approach also includes that the research targets will all be approached with a philosophy incorporating application of front-line competence from analytical theory, computer simulations, and lab experiments to full scale on-site experiments and commercialisation. All in order to facilitate that innovations and ideas that arise from the research best lead to:
- Development and implementation of new technologies and practices aiming at new energy systems solutions that satisfy the criteria of sustainability
- Products and/or systems and/or services, which can be implemented in existing industries or serve as a foundation for new industries
- Practices and policies that will help disseminate technologies and promote desirable technological paths to benefit society in a sustainable way.
To reach the above mentioned targets, five research themes will be strengthened and developed within the STandUP partnership. The proposed work within these themes builds on already established research groups with proven excellence and relevance to industry and society. The presentation of the research themes addresses the development needs reflected in the Government’s call, and since this structure cuts through several traditional scientific disciplines some research groups are present in several of the areas. Additionally, the research theme on Systems Analysis and Environmental Assessment is a cross-cutting activity that complements the technically oriented areas.
Systems analysis, environmental assessment and decision making
To be sustainable, energy systems have to be defined within boundaries set by climate, environment and socio-technical contexts over time. To handle this complexity, a systems analysis approach is necessary. Technological systems solutions based on renewable resources and capable of operating at high efficiency need to be devised and disseminated. Yet, a successful shift towards renewable systems depends not only on technological progress but also on political and social institutions, whereby policies, legislation and cognitive structures are important determinants.
Renewable production of electricity
The overall aim of the research theme, the reduction of cost per kWh of renewable electric energy delivered to society, requires new generation sustainable technologies, improved existing technologies, and novel solutions for flexible regulatory power systems to stabilize the impact of intermittent energy sources. Studies of individual components in the chain from source to consumer will be integrated in a systems approach.
Integration into the electricity network
The overall aim is the cost-efficient transformation of the transmission & distribution system to accommodate large scale variable production of electricity while retaining high levels of reliability. The mission is twofold; first development of methods and tools for analysis and design of flexible transmission and distribution systems; second, development of algorithms and methods for control and operation of such systems including analysis and design of controllable power system components and integrated information and control systems.
The applied nature of the field implies close co-operation with industry and access to lab infrastructure both for testing of power system components and for studies of system level phenomena.
Electric propulsion and Hybrid vehicles
Hybrid and all electric vehicles hold the potential to dramatically decrease the energy consumption and environmental impact of road vehicles. In order to succeed with a broad commercial introduction research in battery technology is imperative. The aim is to find cost efficient, compact, safe and reliable energy storage possibilities in combination with efficient electrical propulsion and other on-board systems. This also involves the development of highly efficient and cost effective power electronic converters. Hybrid vehicles will to some extent be dependent on internal combustion engines. It is therefore also important to incorporate a system analysis approach as well as to develop e.g. bio-fuels in order to make the total ecological footprint as small as possible. Grid connection of vehicles will substantially contribute to lower CO2 emission, given the energy mix of the Swedish electricity system.
Vehicle research is a cross-disciplinary activity that requires an environment where key results from different areas can merge and melt together. A joint, unique and long-term initiative between all research groups at Uppsala University and KTH involved in driveline and vehicle research will be achieved through a collaboration to initiate, implement and coordinate research towards realistic demonstration of radically new vehicle concepts of the future. This will be achieved by establishing one common implementation laboratory, a “vehicle factory” where batteries, fuel cells, flywheels, internal combustion engines and electric propulsion systems can be integrated in vehicles. The lab will be the internal and external attraction pole promoting the visibility of STandUP research and innovation excellence, and joint driving forces of curiosity and need.
Biorefineries and Biofuel production
No single biofuels/biorefinery solution will be sufficient to meet global needs given the current rate of petrochemical and liquid fuel consumption. The problem is further complicated by issues such as regional variations in biomass availability and production rates, as well as conversion efficiencies and energy balances. Thus, efficient coupling of diverse biomass sources, including energy crops and waste materials, to both biological (enzymatic/fermentation) and chemical (thermal) conversion technologies will be necessary to maximize outputs of liquid or gaseous fuels for the transport sector (as well as high-value chemicals) while minimizing environmental impact.
The vision of this research theme is to synergize core competence areas in biomass production, degradation, and conversion at KTH and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala to create a strong regional conglomerate for bio-based fuel alternatives. Together, this initiative will cover the entire spectrum of development, from environmentally-adapted biomass production (with the first focus on the northern latitudes), through carbon interconversion. Resulting new technologies in plant biotechnology, enzyme technology, pre-treatment and extraction, microbial cell factories, and catalytic chemical processes will be patented, developed, and transferred to industry via established and emerging networks.