Energy resources and decentralized production

The design of an efficient energy solution requires optimization at each step of the value chain of energy (Primary Energy Resources, Conversion, Distribution, Storage and Use). Decentralized production (or distributed generation, DG) is recognized as a sustainable solution, with minimized losses at the different steps, which is leading to a major revolution of the energy market.

In order to answer the stakes of local authorities and to ensure a sustainable development of cities and regions, energy supply needs to be optimized at the territorial level by the design of high efficient distributed energy solutions all over the value chain: from the optimal use of the local energy resources to the development of high efficient conversion technologies, up to the optimization of the system integration at the user place as well as within the electricity system.

Decentralized energy is reaching in 2010 a share of 30% of the European electricity generation and should further increase according to the European targets aiming at a low carbon energy future. Therefore, technological, economical and environmental assessment of promising Distributed Generation (DG) systems are necessary to define roadmaps and possible scenarios for the future, taking also into account sociological acceptance factors.

Bioenergy and geothermal energy are seen as complementary renewable energy sources due to their specific characteristics: they can be stored before use, can operate in baseload and are controllable to a certain extent. Combined heat and power technologies, fuelled by natural gas or biogas, either for industrial applications or for private customers, are characterized by high overall energy efficiency, thus reducing the CO2 impact of electricity and heat generation. Investigations on new control strategies may even further improve the flexibility and the profitability of these plants.

Among distributed energy technologies, fuel cells are catching the attention of many actors as a real breakthrough for high electrical efficiency and no CO2 emission when fuelled with hydrogen, being seen as an alternative solution for energy storage when produced through electrolysis.