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CASCADE MINTS — Result In Brief

Project ID: 502445
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Greece

Can we model the future of energy systems?

A European initiative used models to identify the most critical performance characteristics of prospective energy sources and indicate areas for future improvement.
Can we model the future of energy systems?
The current global energy system presents with a number of problems including pollution, resource depletion, concerns regarding the security of supply and sustainability of electricity production. To evolve this system towards more sustainable paths, research and development (R&D) has concentrated on alternative energy sources, including hydrogen. The future of the hydrogen economy will depend on advances in fuel cell applications, production, conversion and storage of hydrogen.

The EU-funded ‘Case study comparisons and development of energy models for integrated technology systems’ (Cascade MINTS) project put considerable effort into surveying fuel cells and hydrogen-related technologies and their applications. Additionally, the consortium addressed policy issues at the European and global levels focusing especially on novel, more climate-friendly energy technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS), renewable energy sources and nuclear power. Various existing models and case studies were explored to build a scientific consensus on the impacts of policies aimed at sustainable energy production.

A hydrogen-based energy system was found to offer the best prospects for overcoming issues related to fossil fuel energy, including social barriers. In contrast, the role of nuclear energy was considered to be dependent on the public and political acceptance. Provided acceptance and investment were not the limiting factors, nuclear energy could take up 50 % of European energy production due to its cost effectiveness and low pollution generation. It was foreseen that emphasis should be given on developing safer reactors and shortening nuclear waste half-life.

By analysing many scenarios on renewable energy sources, project partners identified biomass to have an increasingly important role in the energy field. In terms of fossil fuels, natural gas was considered as a fit energy alternative with security of supply. The CCS technology – which is involved in both hydrogen and coal energy perspectives – was associated with low availability and public acceptance. Despite its cost effectiveness and security of supply, these issues hampered its wide applicability.

Overall, the Cascade MINTS project brought together interdisciplinary teams in Europe to investigate policies that can foster the development and deployment of sustainable energy sources. Useful insights on energy policies were provided that are expected to impact the current energy system and overcome our fossil fuel dominance.

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