Climate emergency: towards a low carbon economy

Thousands of young students all over the world were striking last Friday against climate change. People who are not even allowed to vote yet, but definitely have a say about their own future, raised their voices out of the classes to teach an important lesson: we need to act now to minimise the devastating effects of the Global Warming.

The students protested to raise awareness and spark action from individuals, politicians and governments. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish girl who started the first movement of climate strikes, is making an emergency call for cutting down emissions by ceasing the use of fossil fuels and increasing investment into renewables.

Renewable Energy and the Circular Economy

According to Bio Market Insights, €56 billion in subsidies from EU member states were made in 2016 to fossil fuels. In this context, Roberto Ferrigno, EU Policy Advisor at Italian bio-plastics company Novamont said in the ‘Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference’ in Brussels that goverments should encourage the transition to circular economies and start helping the bio-based industry to make bio-based material more affordable than fossil-fuel based materials. 

To ensure the future of the next generations, we have climate change at the heart of our business strategies. For example, as part of the Agrimax project, Exergy is working in the design and set up of two biorefineries in Italy and Spain for the production of high-value bio-compounds with application in packaging, ingredients for the food industry and manufacturing of agricultural materials. We at Exergy strongly believe in working to create awareness about how energy efficiency and increased profitability are linked in the long-term. It will soon be a trend that companies will get benefits from emissions reductions. We all know that there are challenges we must overcome but the significant value to be gained from moving towards business models that are more sustainable is something to consider – it is a win-win, for companies and the environment.

Interesting Links:
How to build a low carbon strategy

Renewable energy systems and low carbon solutions

Exergy Analysis applied to a Power to Gas Plant

Exergy Analysis applied to a Power to Gas Plant

The share of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) for the European power-generation sector has almost reached 30%. Despite that, in the heating and cooling sectors only 20% comes from RES and in the transport sector, 7% was just exceeded in 2016.

In order to enable higher RES penetration, future energy systems would require further development of relevant infrastructures. Many strategies and technologies are being applied and developed and as a new integral and promising approach, power-to-x (PtX) technologies have attracted more supporters since they not only serve for demand-side management and energy storage but also facilitate the substitution of fossil fuels in the sectors of building, industry and transport.

Nevertheless, these systems are known for high capital costs and low roundtrip efficiencies. The system performance depends on the operating point of the electrolyser and system design, particularly the heat exchanger network.

To understand how the system performance is improved from one design to another, component-based exergy analysis can be employed. This will identify the sources and magnitude of the thermodynamic inefficiencies occurring with each component, highlights the components with the highest inefficiencies, and pinpoints the directions for system improvement.

In this paper, we investigate a Solid-Oxide Electrolyzer (SOE) based PtM plant with a fixed-bed catalytic methanator and a membrane module for methane upgrading. We employed a top-down approach to providing optimal system designs step by step from the system concept to optimal conceptual designs. Furthermore, we carried out an exergy evaluation to the system designs in order to understand how exergy dissipation and performance of the overall system and each component vary from one to another.

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