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Affordable and clean energy

Fossil fuels still make up approximately 80 per cent of the world’s energy supply. What will therefore be needed over the coming years is a radical switch to cleaner alternatives. The shortage of clean energy sources and access to electricity is also an obstacle to combating world poverty. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg are attempting to develop both new ways of extracting energy on a sustainable basis and methods for refining existing technology.

Energy from the sea

Algae can be used to reduce dependency on fossil-based raw materials. One research group is farming algae to investigate how these can be converted into energy or degradable material. Certain species, for instance, contain sugars with interesting properties that could serve as a substitute for plastic. The by-products of algaculture for purposes such as food production could also serve as a source of biogas.

Another project is focused on the production of energy from ocean currents. Underwater constructions anchored by cables on the sea bottom and set in motion by tidal currents enable electricity to be generated via turbines. This idea has been developed by a Gothenburg-based company, and researchers from the University of Gothenburg are involved in the project.

The researchers have produced a data model showing the turbulence that occurs both in tidal water and as a result of the movement of the constructions. The findings will form a basis on which to establish, for instance, how closely situated the constructions can be without disturbing each other. The project will soon be tested off the coast of Wales.

Reduced energy consumption using nanostructures

Another research team is investigating the way light reacts to matter in so-called nanostructures. Simply changing the structure of the matter means, for instance, that photons can be absorbed much more efficiently. This in turn will enable the development of solar cells that are a couple of magnitudes thinner than those today, from approx 200 micrometres down to less than 1 micrometer, without losing too much in terms of efficiency as a result. Reducing the weight of the solar cells would most likely mean reduced costs and simpler installations in the future.

Heat loss through large-scale glass facades used in architecture is one of the biggest energy hogs, and nanostructures can be of use here too. Research experiments show that the temperature of window glass can rise by 10 degrees Celsius by adding to its surface a thin layer of antennae which absorbs the sunlight and passes it through the glass. Sustainable production means not only that the products themselves are produced on a sustainable basis but also that they can reduce unnecessary waste of energy.

This is goal 7: Affordable and clean energy

Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to energy for all is essential.

Sustainable energy is opportunity – it transforms lives, economies and the planet.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is leading a Sustainable Energy for All initiative to ensure universal access to modern energy services, improve efficiency and increase use of renewable sources.

Source: The UN's Official wesite for Sustainable Develpoment Goals

Page Manager: Erika Hoff|Last update: 4/12/2018

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