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RES research in new member states

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July 2004 - Issue 2

RES research in new member states

A SERIES PROFILING RENEWABLE ENERGY RESEARCH IN THE NEW MEMBER STATES

Hungary: ready for green energy

In 2003, renewables had a 3.6% share of Hungary’s total primary energy supply, but the share of renewables in electrical power supply was only 0.5%. Hungary aims to achieve 5% of total primary energy and 3.6% of the power supply from renewables by 2010. Currently, investment in renewable energy technology is small – the concept of environmental protection is fairly new and research funding in general is low: Hungary spent only 1% of its GDP on RTD in 2003.

There are, however, new initiatives taking shape. Clear progress has been made, for instance, in the southern Hungarian town of Szeged, where the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has set up a Centre for Biological Research – Biopolis – now recognised as a Centre of Excellence. “Environmental biotechnology is an important part of the Biopolis vision”, says Kornél Kovács, head of the Biotechnology Department at the University of Szeged. Biomass is one of the country’s most promising renewable energy sources (RES) and the Szeged scientists have managed to perfect technologies that transform food industry waste into biogas for energy production, doubling the performance of the biogas-producing bacteria.

Biogas from industrial waste

A demonstration plant located in Nyírbátor in East Hungary has run successfully and now the University is building a large-scale plant in Szeged to use waste from the Hungarian meat-industry giant Pick. The new technology will also be tested in Germany. To facilitate the commercialisation of this process and further research in the area, the Hungarian Biogas Association was formed. The Department of Biotechnology of the University of Szeged is also a partner in the FP5 project AD-NETT.

Hydrogen producing biosystems is another area where the Szeged university biologists are active and they are participating in the EU ‘Biohydrogen’ project to produce clean hydrogen from energy crops and waste to be used in fuel cells.

Heat storage for solar energy

The Department of Chemical Technology at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics studies solar thermal solutions. They aim to improve the heat-exchange in storage systems which use phase change materials (PCM) that have the capacity to store larger amounts of heat than conventional materials.

Wind energy

Wind power is also an increasing area of renewable energy research. “A detailed wind-map of the country is available, and shows that wind energy has huge potential, although only four turbines operate here currently”, says György Horváth, engineer at the Szent István University of Gödöllö. The Department of Applied Mechanics conducts wind turbine modelling studies on new rotor blade designs. NEG Micon, the Danish wind power plant producer is building, in the town of Gyula, the first turbine assembly plant in Central and Eastern Europe. It is the result of cooperation between the Danish investor Eurowind 2000 Kft. and the consulting engineering company György Horváth of Gödöllö. The plant will provide employment and create an industrial and a research base. Horváth is convinced that wind energy will soon catch on in Hungary: the largest wind power park in Austria is being built just across the border. “Renewable energy is knocking on Hungary’s doors”, he says.

Details of current Hungarian renewable energy research projects can be found on-line at the website of the National Technical Information Centre and Library (OMIKK).

The editors would like to thank Mr Tibor Kovacs for contributing this article.

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