Imperial College London

Energy Technology Perspectives - Imperial College workshop



A discussion of the challenges and opportunities facing four technologies fundamental to the International Energy Agency’s low carbon scenarios.

The Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP)-Imperial College workshop brought together leading experts in energy technologies at Imperial College, key analysts from the International Energy Agency, as well as government and industry representatives, to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing four technologies fundamental to the IEA’s low carbon scenarios: Storage, Bioenergy, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), and Solar Photovoltaics (PV).

The full report from the workshop can be found here.

A copy of the presentation from the lecture that accompanied the workshop can be found here.


Professor Goran Strbac led the discussion on the role and value of storage in a low carbon future. By 2020, larger shares of wind power generation could cause 35% of conventional generation to operate at a load factor of less than 10%. While storage is among the technologies which could turn system integration costs into net benefits, it competes with network assets with long lifetimes that have been optimised for grid operation. Key efforts going forward should thus focus on improving technology lifetime and capital costs.


Dr Jeremy Woods highlighted the low prominence of bioenergy in policy discussions, despite its central role in energy scenarios including those of the IEA’s ETP - where bioenergy accounts for 23-25% of final energy use in 2050.  The complexities of feedstock and technology pathways for bioenergy, which bridge many sectors, end-uses and stakeholders, were discussed as a significant obstacle for policy intervention.

Carbon Capture and Storage

Dr Paul Fennel presented the state-of-the-art in CCS applied to industrial plant. Despite calls from the IEA and other key stakeholders, progress to date has been slow and recent research shows that making CCS in industry happen will be more costly than expected. There is however an opportunity to exploit synergies among different industries and sectors - including power - to increase efficiencies of CCS and lower costs.

Solar Photovoltaics

Finally, Professor Jenny Nelson discussed the status and prospects of solar PV technologies. Solar PV has experienced recent cost reductions, not due to increases in efficiency but to innovations in manufacturing and design. The consensus however was that the semi-conductor cost curve will continue along a declining path by switching over to new PV technologies. Communicating this complexity to policy-makers was viewed as a potential barrier in ensuring future support for PV.



Emma Critchley

Emma Critchley
The Grantham Institute for Climate Change

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