Tracking clean energy
innovation progress

IEA’s most rigorous and timely innovation analysis ever indicates a 13% estimated increase for government low-carbon energy RD&D spending in 2017 and, while corporate clean energy R&D dropped slightly in 2017, the five-year trend shows 5% annual growth. Given the importance of innovation to achieve long-term energy transition goals, these increases are important but many innovation gaps remain. As part of our new “Innovation Tracking Framework,” IEA experts have highlighted 100 innovation gaps across 38 clean energy technologies to help identify opportunities for both public and private investment.


Summary

Public spending on energy RD&D

Government RD&D spending on low-carbon energy technologies grew by 13% in 2017 – a very welcome increase after years of decreases and stagnation. Learn more

	North America	Europe	Asia and Oceania	Rest of World
2012	7.296530441	5.404292	6.394819866	0.379157715
2013	6.878272327	5.221181	5.964687088	0.532621955
2014	6.865946104	6.584787	5.879336734	0.49667507
2015	6.635047229	6.795485568	5.632852182	0.587942398
2016	6.87596422	6.475207447	5.435000684	0.414820123
2017 est.	7.80689265	7.113363235	6.374249154	0.337817445
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Reported RD&D spending by firms in clean energy-related sectors

Our improved estimate for corporate clean energy R&D investment shows that while corporate clean energy R&D dropped slightly in 2017, the five-year trend shows 5% annual growth. A major factor has been rising R&D spending by the automotive sector; this faltered in 2017 but is expected to pick up again in coming years. Learn more

	Automotive	Renewables	Electricity	Nuclear	Other clean energy
2012	28.64	5.02	6.54	1.02	2.83
2013	32.40	4.54	6.29	1.04	2.93
2014	33.83	4.92	6.68	1.02	3.07
2015	34.65	5.05	7.35	1.04	3.42
2016	37.47	5.45	8.12	1.07	3.57
2017 est.	38.92	5.60	8.42	1.15	3.924
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Venture capital deals in clean energy technology areas

Clean energy VC investment is on a rising trajectory. USD 2.5 billion was invested in 2017, following a spike in big deals in clean transport in 2016. The trend is towards pre-2012 averages. Growth is dominated by transport and complemented by digital efficiency technology plays, while renewable hardware has not received a similar boost and remains lower than 2014. Learn more

	Transport	Solar	Bioenergy	Other renewables	Energy efficiency	Other clean energy
Ave. 2007-11	345.8826089	876.8620059	401.4716358	170.5126719	655.3498603	438.5334847
2012	122.0692153	188.0496063	93.40947691	69.51760755	427.0385829	432.0958208
2013	168.4630289	127.1276258	90.57131086	58.8367009	507.902242	293.020241
2014	428.4196492	191.2783274	62.02514086	54.99148451	569.5027153	302.4869131
2015	439.7434994	230.7098476	212.720068	27.35310915	419.9695468	264.8261701
2016	2895.238659	195.4781081	163.5235989	36.04314199	489.6539641	159.8170257
2017	1536.485947	130.511247	110.703742	11.318256	434.915576	264.524309
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IEA Innovation Tracking Framework


IEA’s new Innovation Tracking Framework identifies key long-term “technology innovation gaps” that need to be filled in order to meet long-term clean energy transition goals. This tracking framework, which will be progressively expanded and updated, builds upon leading IEA in-house knowledge and data on technology innovation and investment; a rich history in technology roadmapping; extensive energy technology trend analysis; and the IEA’s unique Technology Collaboration Programmes that brings together expertise from over 6,000 scientists and engineers around the world in about 40 technology areas.

This framework identified around 100 innovation gaps across 35 key technologies and sectors, and are outlined below. Innovation gaps within each technology area highlight where R&D investment or general innovation activity needs improvement. To track developments across key innovation gaps over the past year we developed a methodology that looks at the following key innovation aspects: investment patterns; key initiatives from the private or public sector; and general technology improvement using key metrics. Based on each of these gaps we assess (taking as an example the need to develop batteries with lower cobalt and lithium content):

  • Key improvement metric/focus (e.g. metal intensity of the most advanced battery).
  • How the challenge is currently being tackled (e.g. overall level of R&D funding and current progress by battery manufaturers), and key initiatives in place and over the past year.
  • The stakeholder landscape - key actors, public/private/academia, and what are the current gaps.
  • Opportunities for international initiatives like multilateral collaborations (e.g. Mission Innovation, Breakthrough Energy Coalition)

Industry

New smelting reduction process based on coal

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

New smelting reduction process would circumvent the need for iron ore agglomeration and coking, avoiding 20% CO2 emissions compared to the standard CO-BF route.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Process technology scale-up. By-product recycling: recycling of galvanised steel scrap and zinc recovery from steel plant waste oxides.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

The use of pure oxygen makes the new smelting reduction process well suited to integrate CCUS as it generates a high concentration of CO2 off-gas and emissions are delivered in a single stack compared to a standard steel mill plant with multiple emission points. The integration of carbon capture in this process would enable a reduction of 80% in CO2 emissions compared to the standard CO-BF route.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Integration of carbon capture.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Further lowering the CO2 footprint of the new smelting reduction process would alleviate pressure on other innovation steel-related streams.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Finding an optimal balance in the energy mix.

  • Currently at TRL 6, successful pilot trial.
  • Key milestone: first commercial scale demonstration by 2022.
  • The Hisarna process, originally developed and tested under the Ultra-Low-CO2 Steelmaking (ULCOS) programme. A major plant expansion at the pilot plant at Ijmuiden, Netherlands by Tata Steel. A 20 M€ investment with private funding and financial support from the European Commission programme Horizon 2020 and the Dutch Government (Netherlands Enterprise Agency).


Top gas recovery blast furnace

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Top gas recovery from blast furnaces (BF) would enable reducing carbon input needs, avoiding 20-25% CO2 emissions compared to a standard BF.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Process technology scale-up.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

The integration of CCUS in the top gas recovery blast furnace would enable a reduction of up to 55-60% of the overall CO2 emissions per tonne of steel produced compared to a standard steel mill.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Integration of carbon capture.

  • Currently at TRL 6, successful pilot trial.
  • Key milestone: first commercial scale demonstration by 2025.
  • Supporting research for a future reopening of this demonstration effort has continued through several initiatives in France. The IGAR (Injection de Gaz Réformé) project supported with private and public funds runs from 2018 to 2022, and aims to develop a full-size system that uses plasma torch technology to reform steel plant gases and inject them in the blast furnace, replacing coke by electricity.


Top gas recovery blast furnace with coke oven gas reforming

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Top gas recovery from blast furnaces with coke oven gas (COG) reforming would reduce carbon input needs, avoiding 30% CO2 emissions compared to a standard BF.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Process technology scale up. Improving technologies to produce high-strength & high reactivity coke for reduction with hydrogen.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Integration of carbon capture would significantly further reduce CO2 emissions from blast furnaces.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Integration of carbon capture.

  • Currently at TRL 5, experimental blast furnace testing.
  • Key milestone: first commercial plant by 2030.
  • The CO2 Ultimate Reduction in Steelmaking process by the Innovative technology for cool Earth 50 programme (COURSE 50), started in 2007 in Japan with the objective of bringing this technology to market. The Korean steel maker POSCO is also developing a conversion process to produce a hydrogen-rich gas from COG and CO2 through steam reforming.


New direct reduction based on natural gas

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

New direct reduced iron technology would circumvent the need for iron ore agglomeration and coking.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Pilot plant development

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

The use of pure oxygen makes the new direct reduction process well suited to integrate CCUS as it generates a high concentration of CO2 off-gas. Emissions are delivered in a single stack compared to a standard steel mill plant with multiple emission points.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Integration of carbon capture.

  • Currently at TRL 4, technology development.
  • Key milestone: first pilot plant development by 2025.
  • The ULCORED process, developed by the ULCOS programme started in 2004, has, despite low technical risks, remained at the level of preliminary studies due to a lack of economic incentives. There are no further specific plans for pilot testing.


Direct reduction based on natural gas complemented with up to 80% electrolytic hydrogen

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Increasing replacement of natural gas by hydrogen from renewable electricity in this process technology would enable between 10% to 82% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the standard blast furnace route.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Pilot plant construction and trials. Large scale hydrogen generation from renewable electricity. Process integration optimisation of new configurations.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 5, pilot plant design phase.
  • Key milestone: complete feasibility study by 2020. Pilot trials completed by 2025. Gradual scale up demonstration by 2040.
  • The Salcos project aims to perform a feasibility study (called MACOR) by 2020 of this concept with subsequent pilot trials in Germany.


Direct reduction based on hydrogen

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

The use of hydrogen from renewable electricity in this process technology would enable a 98% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to a reference blast furnace.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Pilot plant construction and trials. Large scale hydrogen generation from renewable electricity.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 5, pilot plant design phase.
  • Key milestone: pilot plants trials by 2021-2024. Demonstration plant scale trials from 2025 to 2035.
  • Plans continue to get pilot lines operational by 2020 in Luleå and the Norrbotten, Sweden. Construction costs are estimated at about USD 2.5 million (SEK 20 million), half financed by the Swedish Energy Agency and half through private funds from SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall. The pre-feasibility phase was already supported with around USD 7 million (SEK 60 million) by the Swedish Energy Agency.


Direct use of electricity to reduce iron oxides (aqueous alkaline electrolysis, low-temperature 110°C)

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

The use of renewable electricity would open a fully CO2 free production route for steel, and a reduction of about 30% in energy use compared to standard steel making. It can be designed to provide demand response to help integrate variable renewables for power generation.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Develop key components of the pilot like metal harvesting and oxygen collection systems. Maximise synergies across sectors: explore the use of non-conventional raw materials (iron ore mine tailings, slimes from nickel and zinc mining, red mud from aluminium production); facilitate integration with the power grid (designs that facilitate maintenance during interruption of operations, study intermittency of operation at large scale).

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 4, technology components integration.
  • Key milestone: pilot plant development by 2022.
  • The ΣIDERWIN project is led by ArcelorMittal partnering with eleven additional innovative European companies and RTOs (Research and Technology Organisations).

Direct use of electricity to reduce iron oxides (molten oxide electrolysis, high-temperature > 1500°C)

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

The use of renewable electricity would open a fully CO2-free production route for steel, and a reduction of about 30% in energy use compared to standard steel making. It can be designed to provide demand response to the electricity grid to help integrate a higher share of variable renewables in power generation.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Continue testing of inert anode materials and scale up cells.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 4, technology components integration.
  • Key milestone: pilot plant trials and scale up by 2024.
  • In 2013, anodes comprising chromium-based alloys were proven to be stable under the challenging conditions of molten oxide electrolysis for iron extraction by researchers in the US, an important step forward to enable metal production without process-related carbon emissions. Pilot testing of this inert anode material is progressing in the US (MIT). There ULCOS programme in Europe included a high-temperature electrolysis concept called ULCOWIN that was not developed beyond the laboratory scale.


Carbon capture and storage (CCS) applied to commercial iron and steel technologies

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

The integration of CCS in existing iron and steel technologies could reduce considerably the carbon footprint of steel making. The achievable emissions avoidance depends on the iron and steel process, the capture technology and the share of total CO2 generated treated in the capture unit.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Push forward demonstration of large scale chemical absorption capture technologies (e.g. amines). Pursue large scale demonstration of adsorption capture technologies (e.g. Pressure Swing Adsorption and Vacuum Pressure Swing) applied to process gases in steel plants, as well as advances in the integration of these technologies with cryogenic purification. Develop new adsorbents to overcome the energy penalty of flue gas compression for less advanced flue gas applications.

Key initiatives

  • TRL varies depending on the iron and steel production technology and the type of CO2 emission source considered for capture.
  • From TRL 5, feasibility studies for pilots (general application of CCS to steel mills) to TRL 8-9 (natural gas-based DRI for enhanced oil recovery).
  • A first commercial CCS project integrated with a natural gas-based DRI for enhanced oil recovery was commissioned in United Arab Emirates in 2017 with 0.8 kt CO2/yr capacity.


Conversion of steel works arising gases (WAG) to chemicals and fuels production (carbon capture and use, CCU)

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Improves resource efficiency of steel works, through full process integration of by-products from ethanol plants into steel plants; the increased use of low-temperature heat in steel plants for ethanol distillation; or via biomass replacing pulverised coal injection in the blast furnace, thus reducing the direct CO2 footprint of steel making. It could provide reductions in the life-cycle assessed (LCA) CO2 footprint of fuels by using ethanol produced through this route as a blending component. However, the net impact would depend on what the current use of works arising gases is (e.g. flaring vs power generation) compared to their uses as alternative feedstock for ethanol production.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Process technology commercial demonstration. Improve the efficiency and reduce the energy intensity of the product recovery and purification step. Process integration optimisation tailoring to each specific steel site. Develop LCA studies with adequate methodology and boundary conditions to assess the emissions reductions potential from this technology in different contexts. Tailor this process to produce other products such as acetic acid, acetate, isobutene and others.

Key initiatives

  • Biological synthesis - Ethanol production through fermentation from steel WAG currently at TRL 6, pre-commercial demonstration completed.
  • Steelanol.
  • Process already validated in industrial environments in China - LanzaTech BaoSteel New Energy Company in 2012 and Shougang LanzaTech New Energy Technology Company in 2013. Two commercial demonstration plants are expected to come online in China and Europe in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

This technology would facilitate a wider penetration of variable renewable power generation by providing demand load flexibility to the system. It could provide reductions in the life-cycle assessed (LCA) CO2 footprint of chemicals produced through these routes. However, the net impact would depend on what the current use of steel WAG is (e.g. flaring vs power generation) compared to their use as alternative feedstock in chemicals production.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Develop catalysts that can cope with operating fluctuations without impacting process performance while improving product selectivity and reducing costs. Some of the conversion steps would require the removal of CO2 (e.g. for ammonia production). Scrubbing and preparation of the steel WAG is another area requiring further research. The provision of hydrogen is also key for certain chemical processes (e.g. methanol).

Key initiatives

  • Chemical synthesis - chemicals production from steel WAG currently at TRL 8-9, commercial scale operation is technically possible.
  • Key milestone: develop catalysts and technologies for these processes to provide flexibility to the electricity grid for the integration of greater variable renewable power generation by 2025.
  • The Carbon2Chem initiative aims to commercially demonstrate the production of chemicals (e.g. ammonia and methanol) from steel WAG in Europe on a balancing load approach, in which chemicals production would fluctuate to alleviate electricity grid loads (and electricity prices). On the low activity periods of chemicals production, steel WAG would be used to satisfy the energy requirements of the steel plant, which is the current general practice. An industrial demonstration is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2018 in Germany. The German government is contributing with over EUR 60 million to this project.


Smelting reduction based on hydrogen plasma

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Upon full demonstration of this process technology, the use of hydrogen from renewable electricity would open a CO2 free emissions avenue for steel making.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Validation of the process at experimental scale.

Key initiatives

  • Currently TRL 3, proof of concept.
  • Key milestone: scaling up from laboratory reactor to experimental pilot by 2020.
  • The Susteel project started in 2016 aiming to upscaling of reactor from 100 g to 50 kg batch operation with power consumption of approx. 250 kW.


Electrolytic production of hydrogen

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Significant reduction in specific technology costs and performance improvements would benefit the cost-competitiveness of hydrogen-based process routes in industrial production.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Reduce investment costs. Improve stack and system design and manufacturing. Develop materials for electrodes to allow higher current densities for a given cell voltage resulting in an increase in overall efficiency. Gain experience in safe operation under variable power supply with large scale alkaline electrolysis. Increase production volumes and improve supply chain.

Key initiatives

  • Alkalyne electrolysis at TRL 7-9, state-of-the-art technology but limited deployment.
  • Key milestone: Significant costs reductions by 2030.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Significant reduction in specific technology costs and performance improvements would benefit the cost-competitiveness of hydrogen-based process routes in industrial production.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Proving large scale hydrogen production based on proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis and smart balancing with the grid. Improving performance and reducing costs.

Key initiatives

  • Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) at TRL 7-8, system development.
  • Key milestone: large scale demonstration with smart grid integration by 2021. Significant performance improvements and costs reductions by 2030.
  • The H2Future project aims to demonstrate full scale hydrogen production via PEM electrolysis and smart balancing with the power grid by 2021 in Europe. The project budget is EUR 18 million funded by the private-public partnership Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking with 70% of the funds from the European Commission. The HyBalance project in Denmark aims to demonstrate the complete value chain from hydrogen production from PEM electrolysis based on renewable electricity to end users.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Significant reduction in specific technology costs and performance improvements would benefit the cost-competitiveness of hydrogen-based process routes in industrial production.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Scale up and improve performance. Explore synergies with processes generating excess heat at high temperature and accelerate the development of suitable and economical materials.

Key initiatives

  • High-temperature Solid Oxide Electrolysis (SOE) at TRL 6-7, technology demonstration.
  • Key milestone: Improve systems integration and materials to reach commercial demonstration by 2030.
  • Green Industrial Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.
  • In Europe, the Green Industry Hydrogen project will run up to 2019 as the first implementation of the reversible high-temperature steam electrolysis as a proof-of-concept. The project aims to improve the overall electrical efficiency, reliability and scale up of SOE.

Alternative cement constituents (including natural pozzolanic materials, ground limestone and calcined clay)

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Including a larger proportion of alternative constituents in cement - likely possible in the range of up to 15 to 35% mass, and potentially even 50% - reduces the quantity of clinker required along with both process and energy-related CO2 emissions associated with clinker production. Alternative cement constituents will become increasingly important going forward due to the likely decreasing availability of fly ash from coal power plants and granulated blast furnace slag from steel production, which are currently commonly used as alternative cement constituents.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Expand the number of applications that can utilise cement mixes containing alternative cement constituents, through testing and verification. Increase understanding of global alternative material availability and properties.

Key initiatives

  • Commercial applications exist but deployment is limited.
  • Key milestone: expanded use of alternative cement constituents in terms of both the quantity per unit of blended cement and the types of applications. Reach a global clinker-to-cement ratio of 0.64 (2030) and 0.60 (2050).
  • Alternative cement constituents are currently being used to varying degrees by various cement producers around the world; use is not confined to a limited number of key initiatives.


Carbon capture

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

CO2 capture could enable up to 99% capture yields; widespread application would reduce clinker production process emissions, which have a limited number of reduction options.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Technology scale up to large-scale demonstration, and in a larger number of plants; improved economics to enable broader application.

Key initiatives

  • Successful trial of amine-based absorbants in Brevik, Norway from 2013 to 2016; operation of a chemical capture plant in Texas beginning in 2015, which converts captured CO2 to other chemicals for sale.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

CO2 capture could enable up to 99% capture yields; widespread application would reduce clinker production process emissions, which have a limited number of reduction options.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Technology scale up to commercial demonstration

Key initiatives

  • Successful pilot testing of oxy-fuel capture in a kiln pre-calciner in Dania, Denmark.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

CO2 capture could enable up to 99% capture yields; widespread application would reduce clinker production process emissions, which have a limited number of reduction options.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Undertake successful pilot testing trials of other capture technologies

Key initiatives

  • Pilot test of calcium looping capture commissioned in 2013 in Chinese Taipei.


CO2 sequestration in inert carbonate materials (mineralisation)

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Utilising CO2 for inert carbonates to be used as aggregates in concrete has the potential to improve the economics of carbon capture in cement production and in other CO2 intensive activities.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Technology scale up to higher TRL, depending on the particular process; process improvements.

Key initiatives

  • Currently more than 20 processes are being developed to convert CO2 to carbonate products, ranging from TRL 1 to 9.
  • Key milestone: scale up key processes to large-scale commercial demonstration and/or full commercialisation by 2025.
  • Commissioning in 2018 of a 100 kt/yr plant in Leeds (UK) producing carbon negative aggregate from alkaline wastes from waste-to-energy plants.


Alternative binding material: belite clinker

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Belite clinker leads to a reduction in process emissions of 6% relative to Ordinary Portland Cement clinker. Its application is currently limited to massive concrete dams and foundation and confined to a number of countries due to its much lower early-strength development.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Further research and testing of methods to accelerate strength development, such as thermal treatment and incorporating foreign elements, with the objective to possibly expand to greater number of applications.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 8-9, limited commercial scale market deployment.
  • Key milestone: expanded application.
  • Production in China over the past 15 years, including in the third phase (2003 to 2009) of the Three Gorges Hydropower Project. Japan is also using high-belite cements for mass concrete and high-strength concrete.

Alternative binding material: calcium sulphoaluminate (CSA) clinker

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

CSA clinker can result in a 44% reduction in process emission relative to Ordinary Portland Cement clinker.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Additional research and testing to verify and improve properties, enabling expansion to a greater number of applications.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 8-9, limited commercial scale market deployment.
  • Key milestone: expanded application.
  • Commercially produced in China for over 30 years.

Alternative binding material: alkali-activated binders (geopolymers)

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

The CO2 footprint of alkali-activated binders varies depending on the mix properties, ranging anywhere from less than 10% or 97% emission reduction relative to Ordinary Portland Cement clinker. Its application will likely be limited by material availability as they rely on materials similar to those used in conventional blended cements to reduce the clinker to cement ratio.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Facilitate expanded application through further quality control testing and verification, including addressing sensitivities to varying water contents.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 8-9, limited commercial scale market deployment mostly in non-structural applications.
  • Key milestone: expanded application to mass production, to the extent that is possible given limited availability of materials.
  • The first industrial plant was built in Australia; commercial scale production in approximately a dozen countries.

Alternative binding material: belite calcium sulphoaluminate (BCSA) clinker

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

BCSA clinker can result in process CO2 emissions 20 to 30% lower than that of Ordinary Portland Cement clinker.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Further research and testing are needed to develop better clinker formulations, especially with regard to cost competitiveness.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 7, not commercially produced yet and specific norms for this type of clinkers do not currently exist, with the exception of those BCSA clinker compositions that are within Chinese norms for CSA clinkers.
  • Key milestone: expanded application and increased experience to verify strength development and durability.
  • Globally, a small amount is produced including in China for structural and non-structural applications, as well as in Europe.

Alternative binding material: carbonation of calcium silicates (CACS)

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

CACS clinker can yield zero process emissions in net terms, since it sequesters CO2 as it cures. However, its application will likely be limited to pre-cast applications since it requires a CO2-rich atmosphere for curing.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Demonstration to verify technical and safety aspects; gain experience in setting up of CO2 curing systems; expansion of pre-cast concrete to new applications in order to increase potential for use.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 6, first industrial pilot trials have taken place.
  • Key milestone: demonstration and commercialization by 2025.
  • Only solid research and commercialisation effort known is being pursued by a single private venture in the United States, via its patented technology Solidia Cement.

Alternative binding material: pre-hydrated calcium silicates (PHCS)

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

PHCS clinker has been estimated to achieve emissions levels approximately 40% lower than Ordinary Portland Cement clinker.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Demonstration at industrial scale to optimise processes.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 5, a pilot plant is fully operational.
  • Key milestone: industrial demonstration plant operational by 2020.
  • Celitement is a patented binder using PHCS processes and is currently at the pilot plant stage.

Alternative binding material: magnesium oxides derived from magnesium silicates (MOMs)

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

MOMs can in principle counterbalance or even absorb more CO2 than the amount released in the manufacturing process while curing, if magnesium oxides are provided from natural magnesium sources free of carbon.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Pilot testing to improve processes and gain better understanding of properties and feasibility for industrial-scale production.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 2 to 3, concept stage with research largely limited to academic setting.
  • Key milestone: pilot plant in operation by 2025.
  • R&D largely remains in university labs; a commercial venture to develop an industrial manufacturing process began in 2008 but ended in 2012 due to lack of funding; research at present apparently seems to be largely on hold.
  • UK company Novacem undertook development efforts from 2008 to 2012.


Advanced grinding technologies

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Advanced grinding technologies could decrease the electricity intensity of cement production beyond current best practice levels and provide means to manage more flexibly electricity demand. Related CO2 reductions would be dependent on the CO2 intensity of different electricity grids.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Technology scale up to pilot testing, demonstration, or commercial-scale application, depending on the specific technology.

Key initiatives

  • A number of higher efficiency grinding technologies are currently at TRL 6 while others are in earlier stages of development. They include contact-free grinding systems, ultrasonic-comminution, high voltage power pulse fragmentation, low temperature comminution.
  • Key milestone: commercialise new higher energy efficiency grinding technologies by 2025.
  • The European Cement Research Academy has established precompetitive research project on efficient grinding technologies, which includes cross-sectoral stakeholders.


3D printing applied in cement construction

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Additive manufacturing processes such as 3D printing have the potential to considerably reduce the quantity of concrete, and in some cases cement, during construction processes. However, some digital fabrication processes use high strength concretes that use considerably higher than normal quantities of cement per unit of concrete, and thus consideration should be given to whether a particular application of digital fabrication actually reduces cement use on net. Wider-spread application of digital fabrication processes that reduce demand for cement would reduce emissions from cement production.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Technology scale up to additional demonstration, in order to exhibit larger number of applications, improve processes, and reduce costs.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 6-7, with a considerable number of experimental/demonstration projects around the globe.
  • Key milestone: reduction in cement use per application by a considerable proportion by 2030 via additive manufacturing.
  • Many examples exist. To provide a few: The company HuaShang Tengda built a digitally fabricated 400 m2 two-storey house in China in 2016. Winsun built a five-story apartment building also in China that was completed in 2015. The Block Research Group at ETH Zurich has developed an unreinforced concrete funicular floor slab that uses considerably less material than a conventional floor slab.

Black liquor gasification

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Gasification of black liquor can produce carbon-neutral energy products, such as electricity and steam for use in the pulping plant, and liquid biofuels.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Technology scale up to TRL 8 and 9, full-scale commercialisation.

Key initiatives

  • Currently two key designs are under investigation: a low-temperature steam reforming process, which is at the TRL 8 - initial commercial system stage; and a high-temperature entrained flow reactor, which is at the TRL 7 - demonstration stage.
  • Key milestone: reduce costs and improve processes in order to achieve full-scale commercialization.
  • Two commercial plants are operating with steam reforming technology: a Norampac containerboard mill in Canada and a Georgia-Pacific mill in the US. Demonstration of entrained flow reactor technology has been undertaken in two plants, one in the US and one in Sweden, that ended in 2013 due to lack of funding.


Lignin extraction

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Isolating lignin from wood pulp could enable use of lignin for new industrial products, such as chemicals. Lignin can also be used as a biofuel in boilers or lime kilns.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Technology scale up ranging from large-scale demonstration to full commercial (TRL 7 and 9), depending on the specific process.

Key initiatives

  • Several methods, including hydrolysis, acidification, and solvent-based pulping, have been tested and demonstrated (TRL 5 to 8) to extract lignin from wood pulp.
  • Key milestone: successfully demonstrate at the full plant scale and/or scale up to an industrial pilot.
  • A pilot plant in Wisconsin US extracts lignin using uses Organosol, an organic solvent developed by American Science and Technology, and was scaled up to commercial scale of 2 ton/day in 2016.
  • The Canadian developed LignoForce, lignin extraction process uses black liquour oxidation and acidification, has been tested at the small scale in Ontario Canada, and in 2016 a commercial scale pilot plant using the technology was opened in Alberta Canada. The LignoBoost technology, re-disperses and acidifies filter cake prior to washing, is being used in two commercial plants in Finland and the US, commissioned in 2013 and 2015 respectively.


Low-carbon alternatives to traditional pulping: deep eutectic solvents

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

The process could have significantly lower energy needs for pulping compared to traditional chemical pulping processes, as deep eutectic solvents enable pulp production at low temperatures and at atmospheric pressure. They function by dissolving wood into lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose. This process could also produce additional value-added for pulp producers through the sale of pure lignin as a fuel or material.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Undertake pilot testing and demonstration to further understand and improve the process.

Key initiatives

  • Proven at the laboratory scale (TRL 4).
  • Key milestone: conduct first feasibility studies and pilot testing by 2025.
  • The Institute for Sustainable Process Technology is coordinating a Europe-wide project to research and develop deep eutectic solvents, with 27 participants including paper companies, universities, and research institutes.


Alternative drying and forming processes

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Alternative processes minimize energy use for paper drying. For example, steam forming, which involves condensing dry fibres into paper, has the potential to reduce energy needed for drying by at least 50%, due to much lower water and heating requirements.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Undertake pilot testing and demonstration to improve processes.

Key initiatives

  • Various alternative drying and forming processes have been under development over the past several decades, and currently range from the laboratory to the demonstration stage (TRL 3 to 6). Potentially promising processes include flash condensing formation with steam, extraction drying with supercritical CO2, and superheated steam drying.
  • Key milestone: achieve successful demonstration of key processes by 2025.
  • We are not aware of any key initiatives that have made substantial progress in recent years to move alternative drying and forming processes through the commercialization process.

Ammonia production from electrolytic hydrogen

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Considering the provision of renewable electricity, this process route would avoid the generation of CO2 emissions in ammonia production.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Optimise process system integration of electrolytic hydrogen-based ammonia plants with subsequent urea synthesis. Improve performance of electrolytic hydrogen production and reduce costs. Investigate hybrid concepts with flexible operation based on both electricity and natural gas.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 7-8, individual technologies available, system integration to be completed.
  • Key milestone: Fully integrated system developed and demonstrated at commercial scale by 2019.
  • First large scale demonstration plant of ammonia production using solar power expected to be commissioned in 2019 in Pilbara, Australia.

Ammonia production from biomass

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

This production route would avoid the direct use of fossil fuels in ammonia production. It is key that biomass feedstocks are supplied sustainably.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Focus on technology costs reduction. Improve the conversion yield from lignocellulosic feedstock into chemicals. Demonstrate the economics of combined production of bio-based chemicals from lignocellulosic feedstock at large scale.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 6-7, at pilot stage.
  • Key milestone: Large scale demonstration by 2020.
  • Techno-economic evaluation of ammonia production via integrated biomass gasification in existing pulp and paper mills have been performed. Lower production costs would be required to make biomass-based ammonia production economically viable. No large plant demonstration plans known.


Methanol production from electrolytic hydrogen and CO2

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Considering the provision of renewable electricity and CO2 from either biogenic sources or unavoidable industrial by-products from fossil-based sources, this production route would avoid the direct use of fossil fuels in methanol production. In a decarbonisation scenario, CO2 from fossil-based unavoidable industrial by-products would become scarce in the long-term, so that extracting CO2 from the atmosphere through biomass growth or air capture would become increasingly important.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Scale up demonstration plants and develop operational experience. Improve productivity and reduce costs; development of novel catalysts less sensitive to inhibition by high concentration of CO2 and H2O. Explore systems smart balancing with the power grid. For instance, coupled to biogas plants with fast start/shut-down operations.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 7, several pilots are in operation.
  • Key milestone: Fully integrated system developed and demonstrated at commercial scale by 2019.
  • Catalysts are commercially available for the hydrogenation of pure CO2 to methanol, and a number of pilot plants are in operation. The George Olah Renewable Methanol Plant was commissioned by Carbon Recycling International in 2011 in Iceland and designed for a 4kt/yr capacity with a EUR 7.1 million investment. There are plans for scaling up this plant to 40kt/yr.

Methanol production from biomass

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

This production route would avoid the direct use of fossil fuels in methanol production. It is key that biomass feedstocks are supplied sustainably.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Focus on technology costs reduction. Improving the conversion yield from lignocellulosic feedstock into chemicals. Demonstrate the economics of combined production of bio-based chemicals from lignocellulosic feedstock at large scale.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 6-7, at pilot stage.
  • Key milestone: Large scale demonstration by 2020.
  • A first commercial scale biomethanol plant was announced in 2012 by VärmlandsMetanol AB in Hagfors, Sweden.


Ethylene production from electricity and CO2

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Considering the provision of renewable electricity and CO2 from either biogenic sources or unavoidable industrial by-products from fossil-based sources, this production route would avoid the direct use of fossil fuels in ethylene production. In a decarbonisation scenario, CO2 from fossil-based unavoidable industrial by-products would become scarce in the long-term, so that extracting CO2 from the atmosphere through biomass growth or air capture would become increasingly important.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Find a stable copper-based electrode for the production of ethylene from CO2 with electricity. The research focuses on electrocatalysts because these materials can charge inert CO2 with energy-rich electrons in order to create ethylene.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 3-4, research to prove feasibility.
  • Key milestone: Process development by 2025.
  • The project eEthylene under the lead of Siemens, funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research, aim at a direct electrocatalytic production of ethylene from CO2 and water in a single stage system.

Ethylene production from bioethanol

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

This production route would avoid the direct use of fossil fuels in ethylene production from the widely established fossil-feedstock based steam crackers. It is key that biomass feedstocks are supplied sustainably.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Focus on improving bioethanol production process currently at TRL9 for sugar and starch containing crops fermentation, but at TRL7 for lignocellulosic biomass gasification. Research gasification and subsequent fermentation or catalytic conversion of synthesis gas by means of MoS2-based catalysts.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 8-9, commercial availability by limited deployment.
  • Key milestone: Expand commercial deployment.
  • In 2014, Axens, Total and IFP Energies Nouvelles announced a technology for ethylene production through dehydration of bioethanol under the technology brand name Atol™ to produce of polymer grade bio-ethylene. However, most of the capacity under construction is directed to non-polymer ethylene derivatives, such as ethylene oxide, which could later be used for producing polymers.

Propylene production from bioethylene

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

This production route would avoid the direct use of fossil fuels in propylene production from the widely established fossil-feedstock based steam crackers. It is key that biomass feedstocks are supplied sustainably.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Improve catalyst to enable the conversion of ethylene to propylene in a single-stage process instead of two (dimerization of ethylene plus metathesis). Focus on improving bioethanol production process currently at TRL9 for sugar and starch containing crops fermentation, but at TRL7 for lignocellulosic biomass gasification. Research gasification and subsequent fermentation or catalytic conversion of synthesis gas by means of MoS2-based catalysts.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 6-7, at pilot stage.
  • Key milestone: Large scale demonstration by 2020.
  • In Brazil, Braskem has announced a production plant for bio-based polypropylene at 30 kt/yr scale.


Aromatics production from methanol

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

If low-carbon methanol were to be available, this process route would open a new avenue to displace fossil feedstock for aromatics production in conventional naphtha steam crackers.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Develop catalysts to improve aromatic process yield and benzene, toluene and xylenes selectivity. Achieve process commercial demonstration. Improve process optimisation and scale up deployment.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 7, individual technologies available, system integration to be completed.
  • Key milestone: Fully integrated system developed and demonstrated at commercial scale by 2019.
  • Three pilot plants were developed in 2013, and commercial scale demonstration projects are under development.

Aromatics production from biomass gasification

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

This process route would open a new avenue via low carbon methanol to displace fossil feedstock for aromatics production in conventional naphtha steam crackers.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Focus on technology cost reduction. Improve the conversion yield from lignocellulosic feedstock into chemicals. Demonstrate the economics of combined production of bio-based chemicals from lignocellulosic feedstock at large scale.

Key initiatives

  • Currently at TRL 6-7, at pilot stage.
  • Key milestone: Large scale demonstration by 2020.
  • Dependent on progress in biomass-based methanol and methanol-to-aromatics processes.


Carbon capture

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Carbon capture would be needed to enable production routes using CO2 as feedstock. When combined with permanent storage, it would offer opportunities for drastic CO2 emissions reductions or could even result in negative emissions if combined with biomass-based routes.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Technology scale up to large-scale demonstration; improved economics to enable broader application.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Carbon capture would be needed to enable production routes using CO2 as feedstock. When combined with permanent storage, it would offer opportunities for drastic CO2 emissions reductions or could even result in negative emissions if combined with biomass-based routes.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Technology scale up to commercial demonstration.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Carbon capture would be needed to enable production routes using CO2 as feedstock. When combined with permanent storage, it would offer opportunities for drastic CO2 emissions reductions or could even result in negative emissions if combined with biomass-based routes.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Undertake successful pilot testing trials of other capture technologies.

  • Chemical absorption currently at TRL 8, with two pilot projects successfully in operation; however, experience gained with operation of large-scale plants in power sector; a number of other capture technologies are at lower stages of development.
  • Key milestone: large-scale practice in post-combustion capture technologies.
  • Feasibility studies from 2016 demonstrate a flexible CCS chain from CO2 industrial sources in Norway. Instead of transporting CO2 by pipeline to a storage site, the plan is to transport CO2 by ship to a connection point tied to the storage site.
  • Pilot plant testing of a proprietary chemical solvent at a Solvay chemical plant near Tirupati, India.

Inert anodes

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Utilising inert anodes would reduce process emissions from primary aluminium production. Primary aluminium smelting currently largely relies on carbon anodes, which produce CO2 as they degrade. Inert anodes made from alternative materials produce pure oxygen.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Technology scale up to TRL 6 and 7, large-scale pilot testing and demonstration.

Key initiatives

Inert anode technology is being tested in a smelter section at RUSAL's Krasnoyarsk plant in Russia. Alcoa has also pilot tested inert anodes at a multi-pot scale.


Wetted cathodes

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Using cathodes made from wetted materials, such as titanium diboride, would improve the electrical contact between molten aluminium and the cathode and in turn allow for a decreased anode-cathode distance without causing difficulties for the smelting process. Wetted cathodes could reduce energy use by approximately 20% compared to conventional carbon cathodes.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Successful larger-scale pilot testing and initial demonstration (TRL 5-6).

Key initiatives

Several companies in partnership with the US Department of Energy conducted research and pilot tests around the early 2000s.


Multipolar cells

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

While conventional Hall-Héroult cells have a single-pole arrangements, multipolar cells could be produced by using bipolar electrodes or having multiple anode-cathode pairs in the same cell. They have the potential to reduce energy consumption by 40%, due to lower operating temperatures and higher current densities. Since the cells require inert anodes, process emissions from the use of carbon anodes would also be reduced.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Successful small-scale demonstration (TRL 6).

Key initiatives

A prototype plant with a multipolar cell was developed by Alcoa in the 1970s; however, it shut down due to high costs and various technical challenges. More recent exploratory research and testing have been conducted by both Northwest Aluminium and Argonne Laboratory.


Novel physical designs for anodes

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

The physical design of anodes can be altered to improve energy efficiency of Hall-Héroult cells. For example, sloped and perforated anodes make electrolysis more efficient by allowing better circulation within the electrolyte bath, while vertical electrode cells save energy by reducing heat loss and improving electrical conductivity. Energy savings can be considerable, with one source estimating slotted anodes can reduce energy by 2 to 2.5 kWh per kg of aluminium.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Technology scale up to commercial demonstration or wide scale deployment, depending on the specific technology.

Key initiatives

A slotted anode design has been commercialised by Aloca, although uptake remains relatively limited. Testing of other designs is being undertaken by Rio Tinto, Alcan, and Norsk.


Direct carbothermic reduction of alumina

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Direct carbothermic reduction of alumina would reduce energy consumption by approximately 20 to 30%. There may also be potential to power the furnace using concentrating solar power, which would reduce need for fossil fuel energy and thus CO2 emissions.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Successful pilot testing and demonstration (TRL5-6) of carbothermic reduction processes.

Key initiatives

The Novel Technologies for Enhanced Energy and Exergy Efficiencies in Primary Aluminium Production Industry (ENEXAL) project, which was financed by the EU Commission from 2010 to 2014, conducted research into carbothermic reduction processes. Australia-based company Calsmelt had developed a pilot proof of concept carbothermic reduction technology called Thermical as of 2013, but the company appears to have folded in 2016. ALCOA and ELKEM developed the Advanced Reactor Process, and developed a pilot reactor in Norway, but it is unclear whether they are still pursuing its development.


Kaolinite reduction

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Kaolinite reduction would produce aluminium using kaolin, a common clay mineral, rather than bauxite. The reducing cells would operate at a lower temperature and would retain heat more efficiently, and thus could reduce gross energy consumption by approximately 12% (representing the net impact of energy used for reactions, which is less than conventional processes, and energy used for raw materials, which is higher than conventional processes).

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Develop small scale prototype, and if prototype shows potential for feasibility, conduct initial pilot test.

Key initiatives

Various research efforts have occurred over the years; however, we are not aware of any specific initiatives that have made substantial progress in recent years in moving beyond the research stage. While in 2015 RUSAL reported it was researching kaolin clay technologies and planned to develop a demonstration facility in early 2016, no updates appear to be available on this effort.


Electrolysis demand response

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

The technology could enable an aluminium smelter to increase or decrease its electricity consumption by 25% for up to several hours at a given time, without adverse impacts on the production process. Thus, the smelter could increase power consumption at times when demand and prices are low, effectively 'storing' electricity in molten aluminium so that electricity consumption can be reduced at times of high demand and prices. This would help with managing supply and demand variability in the power sector, which will become increasingly important as higher shares of variable renewable energy are added to the grid.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Complete successful industrial-scale pilot project, and scale up to larger-scale demonstration.

Key initiatives

TRIMET is currently operating an industrial scale pilot of the EnPot demand response technology in 120 furnaces at its Essen, Germany location. The total 'storage' capacity of the pilot project is 1,120 MWh, and has a 95% efficiency level.


New physical recycling techniques

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

New techniques for physically sorting scrap metal include fluidized bed sink float technology, colour sorting, and laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS). Their application could reduce energy use in secondary aluminium production by 12%, relative to current methods of secondary production. However, there are drawbacks to some of the techniques, such the environmental impact of the chemicals used in colour sorting.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Scale up to commercial-scale demonstration or wider-spread commercialization, depending on the technique.

Key initiatives

Alcan and Los Alamos National Laboratory undertook pilot tests of the LIBS system in the early 1990s. Huron Valley Steel Company is believed to be using colour sorting to separate aluminium at full scale.

Power

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Continued module efficiency improvements needed to reach SDS targets.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Improved cleaning, passivated contacts, interconnection, embedding. New metallization pastes. Overall, a pressing need to identify a path to market to a number of innovation designs at the lab bench.

Key initiatives

  • Relatively well-funded R&D area but gap between this challenge and reaching beyond 24%. While well observed, there is a need to develop commercial designs and products.
  • Longi Solar/CPVT-verified 23% PERC cell and PV Celltech challenge.
  • PERC category in OECD statistics shows highest area of innovation within variable renewables.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Penetration in SDS imposes pressure on PV industry to develop more sustainable processes. Cadmium, lead and chromium create high levels of toxic waste that needs to be mitigated, monitored, regulated and disposed of.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Process technology scale up needed overall. Increased regulatory pressure, including overall awareness and obligations could lead to innovation in this space.

Key initiatives

  • 45 million in R&D accounted for.
  • Few initiatives and products overall, few countries impose recycling or heavy metal use restrictions.
  • Toshiba, PV Techno Cycle (Japan) programme has a goal of recycling 80% of materials in panels.
  • Few countries impose recycling or heavy metal use restrictions. The European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) sets up rules and targets for EU member states but requires conversion into national law.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Often-quoted limits to current generation which would need to be breached to reach SDS penetration.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Improved module optics, improved metallisation, POCL2 high-efficiency emitters, capturing long-wavelength photon energy. Need to develop further accelerators/incubators to facilitate testing and deployment of more exotic technologies in the pipeline if targets are to reach beyond current generation of crystalline PV.

Key initiatives

  • DoE initiatives reaching 40.7% in 2016, ARPA‐E MOSAIC program reaching 44.5% in 2017 from multi-junction gallium-antimonium cell.
  • US National Center for Photovoltaics (NCPV) programmes on Low Cost III-V Solar Cells and Hybrid Tandem solar cells.
  • Longi Solar/CPVT-verified 23% PERC cell.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Emissions required to create a thin-film cell and panel are lower than mono- or polycrystalline panels, and have reduced soft/labour costs, which in deep penetrations of PV in the SDS become a crucial barrier for further deployment. However current efficiencies are relatively too low to incentivise scale-up.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Overall efficiency improvements; low light device performance. Key technical parameters for focused R&D included surface passivation, buffer, and transparent contact layers.

Key initiatives

Solar Frontier, Sharp, SoloPower and First solar are leading manufacturers.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

As turbine costs drop in the SDS, interconnection and balance-of-system take up a higher share of overall installation costs. Learning on design concepts as well as fundamental technology improvements to power engineering equipment will be necessary.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

DC infrastructure; high voltage interconnections, array interconnection, streamlined cable layouts.

Key initiatives

US DoE FOAs for offshore wind have components of grid integration innovation.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Soft costs for offshore wind take up a substantial share of total installed costs, and together with interconnection they are a key challenge for reaching SDS cost goals.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Pre-commissioning of onshore wind turbines, concepts for integrating structure components.

Key initiatives

A number of simulation projects in place aside from commercial opportunities, including the Far and Large Offshore Wind Programme at ECN in the Netherlands. The European Wind Energy Technology Platform, as well as the Offshore Wind Cost Reduction Task Force both have initiatives in place to accelerate installation processes. The UK Offshore Wind Catapult is a leading example of tools to accelerate deployment.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

High throughput manufacturing and standardised designs of floating structures could lower costs in the mid- to long-term. Around a third of the long-term economic potential in the SDS is at depths higher than 50m.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Overall testing of floating designs. The variety of designs at the moment precludes recommendation of specific research areas.

Key initiatives

  • Floating Hywind wind farm in Scotland, 30 MW in place.
  • Macquarie/Ideol's first floating wind farm in Japan.
  • Floating wind foundations included in USD offshore wind R&D consortium (USD 18.5 million).
  • Glosten tension-leg platform and Principle Power semi-submersible concepts.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Large rotor diameters and higher hub heights have higher upfront and per unit power costs but increase production and decrease costs per unit energy while making better use of the resource and decreasing variability of output.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Fundamental improvements to turbine blade design and manufacturing, as well as materials and construction.

Key initiatives

  • UK Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult provides a platform for testing, grid emulation and KTT.
  • GE's Haliade-X programme aims to develop 12 MW turbines by 2023.
  • US Wind Energy Technology Office/EERE allocating 18.5 million to overall cost reductions of offshore wind.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Wind farm planning, both onshore and offshore, will require enhanced sensitivity assessment of the surrounding environment to ensure long term turbine efficiency and attractive return on investment.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • Improve the accuracy of offshore pre-construction planning to accommodate seasonal and yearly variations/changes in the wind resource.
  • Refinement and validation of model outputs against measured data.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Wind farms need to ensure their value to the system is maintained with the high penetration levels in the SDS.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Enhance short-term forecasts to facilitate the integration of higher volumes. Innovate big-data analytics from plant-level measurements, including neural network/AI controls. Component 3D printing and hybrid materials for wind towers potentially highly disruptive.

Key initiatives

  • Nearly 600m USD total funding globally for wind turbine technology improvements.
  • Initiatives on blade segmentation and turbine erection.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Existing gas power capacity is not optimised for the flexibility requirements of systems with higher shares of variable renewables.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Explore technical options for retrofitting gas fired power plants and assess their economics against other flexibility options.

Key initiatives

  • MHPS and GE Power have reached 64% net efficiency with highly flexible operation.
  • • Retrofits to existing plant for greater flexibility increasingly available (e.g. Emerson/Ovation turbine control retrofits), as well as high-cycle capability turbines (e.g. Siemens' aeroderivative A45 gas turbine).

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Hydrogen produced from excess power during periods of abundant generation from renewables could play a key role in power systems.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Increase activity and utilisation, or fully avoid the use of platinum; direct R&D to increase durability and reduce degradation of fuel cell mechanisms (e.g. self-healing membranes for polymer-based systems).

Key initiatives

US DOE's Fuel Cell Technologies Office call for USD 39 million in total focuses funding in three areas: Accelerating the development of PGM-free catalysts and electrodes, hydrogen infrastructure at scale, and innovative concepts including reversible and liquid fuel cell components.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Potential for hydrogen use at a larger scale, including injection of power in the electricity grid from long-term hydrogen storage.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Explore technologies that provide enhanced material capabilities, reduced air cooling and leakage, and higher pressure ratios than conventional turbines. This includes improved cooling (internal surface cooling, airfoil surface cooling with film cooling), improved sealing (e.g. modelling sealing and stability digitally), develop rotor rim geometry concepts to maintain aerodynamic efficiency.

Key initiatives

  • Extant DOE Advanced H2/IGCC gas turbine programme.
  • NETL Hydrogen Turbine Program, 3100 F Hydrogen turbine goal, transformational H2 production.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

High efficiency low emissions coal power is a requirement for new coal power plants.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Explore technical options for retrofitting coal fired power plants and assess their economics against other flexibility options. Includes higher live steam parameters, larger capacity, and steam double–reheating.

Key initiatives

First double-heating ultra-supercritical unit in Taizhou, China, and ongoing research on 700 Celsius USC programme.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Coal power suffers an efficiency penalty when ramping frequently, which is exacerbated with the power mixes in the SDS. Among the impacts are load-following or on-load cycling (e.g. operating at base load during the day and ramping down to minimum generation at night), two-shifting or sporadic operation. These cause thermal fatigue of components, corrosion and its impacts on material fatigue, as well as operational impacts on efficiency, emission controls and inventory management.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • Conducting case studies to identify strategies that both reduce startup times and the minimum sustainable loads.
  • Improved strategies for corrosion protection.
  • Design and develop heat recovery steam generators and boilers for flexible operation.
  • Holistic layup methods for durations of several days.

Key initiatives

NETL programme on coal power R&D

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Hydrogen produced from excess power during periods of abundant generation from renewables could play a key role in power systems.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Increase activity and utilisation, or fully avoid the use of platinum; direct R&D to increase durability and reduce degradation of fuel cell mechanisms (e.g. self-healing membranes for polymer-based systems).

Key initiatives

US DOE's Fuel Cell Technologies Office call for USD 39 million in total focuses funding in three areas: Accelerating the development of PGM-free catalysts and electrodes, hydrogen infrastructure at scale, and innovative concepts including reversible and liquid fuel cell components.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Potential for hydrogen use at a larger scale, including injection of power in the electricity grid from long-term hydrogen storage.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Explore technologies that provide enhanced material capabilities, reduced air cooling and leakage, and higher pressure ratios than conventional turbines. This includes improved cooling (internal surface cooling, airfoil surface cooling with film cooling), improved sealing (e.g. modelling sealing and stability digitally), develop rotor rim geometry concepts to maintain aerodynamic efficiency.

Key initiatives

  • Extant DOE Advanced H2/IGCC gas turbine programme.
  • NETL Hydrogen Turbine Program, 3100 F Hydrogen turbine goal, transformational H2 production.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Required rates for nuclear plant construction could be reduced by life extensions of existing plants. To reach the SDS goals, many plants will need to undergo refurbishment and life extensions. However, there are key R&D gaps to reduce the costs, impact and increase the feasibility of repurposing and extending reactor lifetimes.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • Explore new materials and retrofitting technologies for life extensions.
  • Nuclear materials aging and degradation including providing data and methods to assess performance of systems, structures, and components essential to safe and sustained nuclear power plant operation. Improve the scientific knowledge basis for understanding and predicting fundamental nuclear fuel and cladding performance in nuclear power plants. Apply this information to the development of high-performance, high-burnup fuels with improved safety, cladding, integrity, and economics.
  • Design and develop heat recovery steam generators and boilers for flexible operation.
  • Holistic layup methods for durations of several days.

Key initiatives

Overall 670 million USD earmarked in IEA RD&D budgets broadly attributable to nuclear life extensions, including nuclear waste disposal and site assessment.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Small modular reactors open up possibilities for small scale nuclear power in new countries and niche markets.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Develop improved materials and fuels for advanced SMR designs; direct R&D towards manufacturing processes to compete with economies of scale in large-scale reactors.

Key initiatives

  • US DOE $30 million funding programme for advanced nuclear technologies including SMRs using LWR and fast reactor designs.
  • UK SMR programme making 56m GBP available for SMR to assess potential designs and accelerate development.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Nuclear energy is also a low-carbon source for heat and can play a relevant role in decarbonising other parts of the energy system.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Explore extraction technologies and processes for district heating of buildings, seawater desalination, industrial production processes and fuel synthesis.

Key initiatives

Around 74 power plants using some form of heat extraction for district or desalination heat, mostly older technologies (e.g. Halden in Norway or Goesgen in Switzerland).

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Hydropower sees a two-fold growth in the SDS, but its potential is highly constrained by geography and robust planning.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Designing, testing, and validating new ways to improve sustainability and reduce the environmental effects of hydropower generation on fish populations and ecosystems.

Key initiatives

Future hydropower Program from Statkraft covers energy management, sustainability and pre engineering/engineering phases.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

In the SDS, hydropower will be increasingly called upon to provide flexibility to accommodate changes in both supply and demand.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Quantify the value of services that support the resilience of the electric grid.

Key initiatives

Canadian Emerging Hydropower Technology Strategy; Asset Management improvement at ORNL.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Drilling costs account for between 40 and 70% of total capital costs of a geothermal power project. It is also a very time consuming part of the project.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Continued focus on specific technologies for different settings. Electro Impulse Technology (EIT), thermal shock drilling systems and Laser Jet drilling.

Key initiatives

  • Technical university Bergakademie Freiberg is carrying out leading research on EIT. Strong research in universities across Germany, and the University of Tokyo together with Tohuku University among other organizations.
  • Although geothermal has a significant global technical potential it receives a minimal amount of investment among clean technologies, with funding mainly provided by public research programmes.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

It is often not easy to locate and characterise geothermal resources, and this phase is both difficult and costly. The success rate (i.e. producing usable quantities of steam and/or hot water) for the first few drills can be around 60%.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Further development of electromagnetic or seismic imaging methods.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

A key driver of Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) technology is to create permeability in a place where there is hot rock, meaning the number of possible locations (compared to hydrothermal processes) is far greater. Flow is directly related to the permeability in the reservoir.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Flow rate needs to be increased by at least a factor of three. There are two options: to either develop methods to enhance reservoir permeability or further develop techniques to create multi-horizon wells.

Key initiatives

    Low number of initiatives in this area. US potential assessments (USGS, NREL), and several country-wide technical potential assessments including EU-wide studies.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Underwater conditions are complex and varying. Few prototype turbines have been tested in field hydrodynamic environments (i.e. outside the lab). Turbulence, wave activity, and depth variations result in unsteady blade loading causing fatigue. Research in mechanical fatigue is very much needed as this has caused a number of projects to fail. This includes interactions between the fluid and the structure of the turbine: blades, tower, foundation, wake formation, array interactions etc.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

The effects of turbulence on blades must be further investigated to be able and develop commercially viable turbines. Technically speaking, this means improved characterisation of hydrodynamic blade loads and materials research.

Key initiatives

Edinburgh, Strathclyde, Manchester and Oxford universities are all carrying leading projects. Technologies currently with the largest commercial deployment are OpenHydro, Andritz Hammerfest / Atlantis Resources, Nova Innovation, Tocardo. Other commercial sources include EDF; classification societies such as DNV GL; or test facilities like EMEC.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Power take off (PTO) is a fundamental part of the energy converter, it is here the absorbed energy from the initial converter is transformed to electricity, with a resulting impact on the efficiency of the device and the design of the wave energy converter. The PTO covers a significant part of the Wave Energy Converter's (WEC) capital cost and is also the most complex part, often the first point of failure. Increasing its reliability would have an impact on operational costs and consequently on the levelised cost of electricity from wave power.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Due to the relatively low level of maturity of wave energy a range of different areas need to be in focus to find the optimal solution. Projects should look at efficiency, design such as flexibility and robustness, different combinations of initial converter and PTO. Some projects are currently taking inspiration from wind energy technologies and also technologies used in the automotive sector.

Key initiatives

Wave Energy Scotland (WES) is currently funding five different projects. The Australian company Carnegie Clean Energy is carrying out several R&D projects. Australia Research Council (ARC) project awarded to BioPower systems.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Advanced control systems for wave energy converters and sub-systems is essential for the development of economically feasible technology as it is essential to improve performance, affordability, survivability and reliability.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

General deployment and tracking of the full range of control systems and algorithms.

Key initiatives

Wave Energy Scotland currently funding 13 projects from different universities and companies.

Buildings

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

  • Good thermal insulation significantly contributes to energy conservation.
  • Applying insulation to already existing buildings is one of the most cost and energy efficient retrofitting measures.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • New Super Insulating Materials (SIMS).
  • Includes Vacuum insulation panels (VIPS), Gas filled panels (GFP) and Aerogel Products (ABP).
  • Thermal conductivity of between 0.003 and 0.008 W/(m*K). Currently mainly used in fridges and other appliances.
  • Further development of less+ or non+invasive materials to address historical buildings that are hard to retrofit.
  • The materials are vulnerable so R&D focus should be on adaptation to be able and work with SIMS on construction sites.
  • Material costs also need to be further reduced.

Key initiatives

There are few initiatives for this. Manufacturers stick with conventional insulation materials. Six out of the ten largest companies producing insulation products are European.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

  • Thermal energy storage (TES) can lower the cooling and heating demand of the building.
  • Storage is a key component of a future low carbon electricity grid as it allows a high penetration from intermittent renewable energy sources.
  • Buildings (with storage) connected to the smart grid would help balance and improve the flexibility of the grid.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • Three types of TES: Sensible, Latent and thermochemical.
  • Phase Change Materials (PCMs), a key type of latent thermal storage.
  • Reduce costs, increase compactness of the system, increase thermal conductivity of the materials, develop new materials with focus on fluids that can function as heat transfer and storage simultaneously.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

  • Integrating renewable technologies in the facade would decrease the net energy consumption of the building as this allows the building to generate energy.
  • Integration of renewables in the walls offer great potential as the related area usually is much larger than the roof area.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Further development and commercialization of Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPVs), Building Integrated Wind Turbines (BIWTs), Hybrid Solar-Wind, Adaptive Solar Façade, Solar roof tiles.

Key initiatives

Climate-KIC - ETH Zurich - ETH House of Natural Resources, Copenhagen International School (CIS), Tesla solar roof.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Infiltration through the building envelope accounts for a significant share of a building's thermal losses. Other than raising the energy demand it causes mould and rot i.e. impacting the lifetime of the building.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • Envelope Aerosol Sealing for new and retrofit of old buildings.
  • Further development of advanced foam and aerosol products such as a synthetic acryl sealant that can be sprayed or rolled on and automatically finds and seals cracks.
  • Refine sealing techniques.
  • Impact on ventilation, find optimal combination with mechanical ventilation.
  • Implementation of building regulations and codes.
  • Further advancement and reduced costs of thermal detectors.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

  • Windows are estimated to be responsible for between 5 and 10% of total energy consumed in OECD countries.
  • Highly insulated windows have great potential to reduce energy consumption in new buildings and in both installation and structural retrofits.
  • Maximizing/minimizing solar gains (depending on region) can significantly reduce heating/cooling demand especially for buildings with a lot of glass.
  • Optimizing Visible Light Transmittance (VLT) can reduce energy demand related to lighting.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • Development of low-cost advanced materials with U values down to 0.6 W/m2K.
  • Improved manufacturing processes and identification of cost-effective installation techniques.
  • Focus has in recent years also been on vacuum glazing technologies to enhance thermal performance.
  • Dynamic glazing with variable Solar Heat Gain Coefficients (SHGCs) of between 0.08 and 0.65.
  • Further development of electrochromic windows.

Solar

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

A key issue for space heating is inter-seasonal storage. Sun irradiance is highest during the summer when the heating demand is the lowest. Seasonal storage would allow for this energy to be used when needed.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Phase Change Materials (PCMs) have the ability to absorb and release energy (as latent heat) when changing between solid and liquid phases. Further improvement of these are necessary to enable the thermal energy stored to be maintained below the melting point of the original material. The idea is to be able to "release" the thermal energy when it is needed. This can potentially be used for space heating, cooking and drying of crops.

Key initiatives

The Grossman Group at MIT have made significant advances on the fundamental material's design level.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • Education for planners, architects and builders on the benefits of BIST.
  • Development of absorbers/collectors with long lifetimes, easily installed and with appealing aesthetics.
  • Reduce costs - according to Maurer, Cappel and E.Kuhn, (2017) the highest potential when developing business models lies in models that do not include the traditional three-stage distribution but use synergies among the labour branches on-site.

Key initiatives

EU Horizon 2020 and Solar Heat Europe (ESTIF).

District heating

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

  • The transition towards a low carbon electricity system requires a higher penetration of VRE.
  • Integration costs are expected to increase i.e. there is a need for improved flexibility. This can be achieved in part by coupling the heat and electricity systems as this would help balance the variability from VRE.
  • IRENA lists the following drivers for an increased share of REs; Environmental, System benefits (i.e. coupling with the electric grid and the waste sector), Synergies with the urban environment & Increased energy security.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

The technology is mature but there are certain obstacles that need to be overcome to achieve more integrated systems:

  • Whereas power pools are composed of a number of countries, DH systems are usually national and therefore regulated by national and local rules, which may create obstacles for more integrated DHC-electric grid systems.
  • Large central power plants will run less hours in a decreasing price environment, resulting in a lack of incentives to invest in flexible capacity.
  • Due to tax exemptions for biomass local DH utilities tend to substitute gas-fired CHP plants rather than heat-only boilers.
  • Costs for distribution systems need to decrease for DHC to be competitive with decentralised generation.

Key initiatives

Flex4RES.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

  • Heat sources used in district systems operate more efficiently at low temperatures, particularly impacting many of the lower carbon options. This means that distribution temperatures must decrease in order to improve the technology and decarbonise district heating grids.
  • Today temperatures are around supply 86 C and return 47 C. The targets for 4GD systems are a supply temperature between 45-50 C and a return around 20 C.
  • Low temperature operation would enable utilisation of more industrial heat, geothermal and heat from cooling processes. It would further decrease heat losses in distribution networks, improve efficiency of district-size heat pumps or through flue gas condensation in condensing equipment.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Third pipe system Fourth Generation District Heating (4GHD-3P), apartment substations, longer thermal lengths.

Key initiatives

  • The EU launched the TEMPO programme (TEMPerature Optimisation for low Temperature District Heating) in Oct 2017 and it will run until September 2021.
  • Funded EU projects are carried out by: Smart Cities, Interreg, H2020, FP7, IEE, SAVE and FP5.
  • Other key initiatives: Halmstad University (Sweden) has accomplished distribution temperatures of 50 and 20 Celsius, and a prototype funded by TEMPO will be built.
  • 4DH initiative in Denmark.

Solar

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

  • In conventional air conditioning systems the sensible load decreases the temperature to 100% relative humidity (RH). The latent load removes the moisture of the air while containing 100% RH. This usually results in temperature levels below thermal comfort, hence, the air needs to be reheated and this requires additional energy.
  • Humidity (or rather the latent heat the humidity contains) is responsible for a large share of the cooling demand in many countries.
  • SSCL systems with one vapour-compression system and one solid/liquid desiccant wheel could address this as it does not require any reheating.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • Further R&D on optimal systems; materials for solid/liquid desiccants.
  • Further innovations needed to improve efficiency and Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios (SEERs).

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

  • This type of system can operate with low grade solar energy (i.e. lower temperatures). Desiccants can dry the air without first cooling it below its dew point. When the desiccant is loaded with water, heat is supplied so as to take it back to the "natural" state and hence air conditioning is provided.
  • Liquid desiccant cooling is suited for solar cooling as it can operate at low temperatures (50-90 C), and allows for high density and less energy storage in the concentrated desiccant.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • Liquid desiccant cooling systems that use liquid water-lithium as sorption materials.
  • Compared to solid desiccant this can achieve a higher air dehumidification at the same driving temperature.
  • Reduce costs.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

  • OLEDS are - unlike LEDs - made from organic carbon based material.
  • The power sector is today the biggest contributor to global CO2 emissions and lighting consumes one fifth of produced electricity.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • Linking LED lamps with Building Energy Management sensors to allow for lighting to become energy service tools.
  • Integrated motion & thermal sensors in the lamps directly.
  • Reduced costs.
  • QR PSR PWM controllers for LED lighting with Power Factor Control (PFC) function.

Key initiatives

EU SOLEDLIGHT, ELQ-LED exploration of quantum material as light emitting sources, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

The power sector is today the biggest contributor to global CO2 emissions and lighting consumes one fifth of produced electricity.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Improve lifespan, material resistance (towards water for example) and reduce costs.

Key initiatives

EU SOLEDLIGHT, ELQ-LED exploration of quantum material as light emitting sources, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

The use of electric appliances and white goods are increasing as living standards are rising worldwide. Although efficiency measures and standards have been implemented over the years, appliances are still responsible for a large share of the building’s energy demand.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • The innovation needs here are largely about delivering major jumps in efficiency beyond the marginal improvements seen with conventional technology. E.g. use of heat pumps in dishwashers, dryers, clothes washers.
  • At lower costs and in condensed applications.
  • Delivering lower cost high-end product solutions like induction or direct drive motors to the general market.
  • Policy coverage: Today only applies to 33% of electric appliances, further expansion of S&L programmes is needed.

Key initiatives

SIEMENS, LG, ABB and Electrolux.


LPG/Gas

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

  • LPG stoves have the potential to play a vital role in the clean energy transition. Burning is cleaner in the sense that it reduces indoor air pollution and its health impacts.
  • The fuel is available all over the world and easy to transport. It is becoming increasingly deployed in urban areas in developing countries.
  • Studies show that the net climate impacts compared to solid biomass are very small or non-existent while the health benefits are large.
  • LPG stoves can facilitate the transition towards induction stoves in the future.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

    It is of outmost importance to improve stove efficiency as much as possible in order to minimize the use of fuel and the resulting environmental impacts.

Key initiatives

Good level of funding from International organizations and governments.

Solar

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Solar cooking today is limited to the hours of the day when the sun shines the brightest. This causes inconvenience in eating hours, and has impacts on the economic activity of women. Intermittent solar energy supply from changing cloud cover can make solar cooking unpredictable.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Thermal energy storage could solve this as it would allow for the household to decide when to cook regardless of the time/weather.

Key initiatives

Investments from national development funds, universities, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

Rocket stoves

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Rocket stoves use wood or charcoal but are much more efficient than old models. A majority of people in developing countries are still dependent on wood and charcoal - while biomass is cheap or free, charcoal is amongst the cheapest fuel options. Assuming these low cost fuels will continue to be used, further improvements to stoves will be needed.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Rocket stoves can reduce fuel consumption up to 60% and cut emissions by 80%.

Key initiatives

Investments from national development funds, governments, universities, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

Energy integration

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Cobalt, lithium, nickel scale-up poses challenges for ramping up batteries.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

In the short term, focus on higher nickel content batteries like high nickel blend NMCs. While this is the natural direction of travel for the sector, increased push will be needed given the scale-up foreseen. In the mid-term, solid-state batteries and lithium-air could reduce most critical impacts on cobalt in particular.

Key initiatives

Toyota R&D programme on solid state batteries, leading cross-university programme including Harvard, UCL, BMW challenge. While the area is very topical, awareness of its criticality has only recently emerged. Private sector initiatives to develop lower intensities, including 60m VC funding.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

Current generation reaches floor costs around 2030. Other technologies, improvements to cathode and electrolyte necessary to go beyond 80USD/kWh.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Solid-state batteries and Li-S or Li-Air will be needed. Solid-state should become commercial by 2025. Nanon-structured lithium-ion cathode materials. Novel carbon materials for air cathodes, minimising anode interaction and O2. Li-anode passivation to avoid dendrite formation could dramatically improve total life-cycle costs. Finally, optimising device operation to optimise lifetime usage should be a key area of focus.

Key initiatives

Solid-state batteries and Li-S or Li-Air will be needed. Solid-state should become commercial by 2025. Key areas include nano-structured lithium-ion cathode materials, novel carbon materials for air cathodes, minimising anode and O2 interaction. Li-anode passivation to avoid dendrite formation could dramatically improve total life-cycle costs. Finally, optimising device operation to maximise lifetime usage should be a key area of focus.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

High penetration of batteries will need sound re-cycling and repurposing strategies. Materials intensity could be reduced overall by recycling.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

Solid-state should become commercial by 2025 under a SDS world if the cost and density targets are to be met, which could mean re-assessing recycling needs. Similarly changes in chemistries and demand for raw materials will require continued monitoring and flexible strategies by manufacturers.

Key initiatives

Very low number of initiatives overall. Pressing need to develop more international partnerships (e.g. Sustainable Cobalt Initiative), as well as manufacturer alliances. Policy-maker action required in this space.

Why is this RD&D challenge critical?

With higher penetrations of renewable energy, systems could see extended periods with low generation from wind and solar.

Key RD&D focus areas over the next 5 years

  • Flow batteries are highly promising but long-term performance and reliability issues as the technology scales up need addressing. Engineered molecules for flow batteries (e.g. symmetric Organic Flow Batteries or Polyoxometallate Flow batteries) show promise.
  • Feasibility assessments for CAES, particularly adiabatic systems.

Key initiatives

  • Third-generation Vanadium redox flow initiatives in China (Rongke), UET in the US.
  • Duration Addition to electricitY Storage programme. Long-term (10-100 hours) storage (30 million USD) funding through Arpa-E. Target of USD 0.05 per kWh-cycle.
  • Primus power Amandebuilt operation for 200 kW of 5hour storage VRFB.
  • Adiabatic CAES demonstrations in Canada and Australia.