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An Illustrative project
Two complementary projects in the JOULE programme have developed a new process for the co-combustion and co-gasification of coal and organic biomass waste, with a very low environmental impact. Trials with the industrial production of electricity have shown that the new fuel - which has the major advantages of very low emission of pollutants and flexibility in terms of the dosing of raw materials - is particularly economical. At the same time, it permits the recycling of bulky organic waste (construction wood, sewage sludge, paper, straw, dung, and other farm and forestry waste), the storage and natural decomposition of which are a major source of greenhouse gases.
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Implications for society
The problems surrounding energy are far from limited to the question of securing sources of supply. If we are to meet the economic and environmental challenges specific to this sector, we need to transform the way we produce and consume. For example, since the oil crises of the 1970s, the fuel consumption of private cars has decreased by at least half. But in many other areas, such as industry, agriculture, and construction, the potential for improving the energy efficiency of processes and products is far from exhausted. However, this presupposes a continual improvement of technologies, and in individual and collective consumption habits.
Implications for the economy
For almost thirty years, the market for energy savings and energy efficiency has been a key force behind economic growth and job creation. In every sector of industry, and for both processes and products, reducing energy consumption has become a universal priority, as well as a major factor in competitiveness.
Implications for Europe
Europe has a long experience of cooperation in the field of energy savings and efficiency. In order to carve out a place on the market, technological innovations have to prove their worth. In the coming years, the European Union will continue to need to provide substantial and specific support for full-scale projects which demonstrate the operational efficiency of energy-related innovations. Such demonstrations are often the sine qua non for introduction at the European level.
Targeted fields of research
- Rational and efficient end-use of energy - Reducing energy demand in buildings (lighting, heating, air conditioning, etc.); improving and integrating renewable energy sources; improving the energy performance of motor vehicles and related infrastructure; etc.
- Transmission and distribution of energy - Optimised energy transmission networks (including district heating and cooling); etc.
- Micro- and macro-scale energy storage technologies - Liquefied natural and petroleum gases; efficient energy storage allowing optimal exploitation of intermittent sources of renewable energy; advanced batteries for mobile or stationary applications; etc.
- Exploration, extraction and production technologies for fossil fuels - Tools for locating fossil fuels; extraction and production of hydrocarbons in difficult zones (seabeds, etc.); advanced hydrocarbon recovery technologies, etc.
- Energy supply and demand scenarios and interactions with economic and environmental systems - Modelling of political options; global evaluation of markets in a liberalised market context; etc.