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Open Access

Contribution of buildings climate change mitigation options to sustainable development

2024, Mirasgedis, Sebastian, Cabeza, Luisa F., Vérez, David

Buildings are responsible for a big part of total GHG emissions; therefore, their climate change mitigation potential is high. But research shows that mitigation actions in the sector can have significant social and economic values beyond reduction of energy consumption and the associated GHG emissions. This paper summarizes these multiple impacts of mitigation actions in buildings, which are related to microeconomic and macroeconomic effects, health impacts, environmental benefits, better management of natural resources, impacts on social wellbeing, and energy security implications, and assesses their interactions (synergies and trade-offs) with the UN SDGs. The findings of our analysis show that climate change mitigation actions in buildings enable the achievement of 4 SDGs, reinforce 7 others, and are inextricably linked to the achievement of 5 SDGs, namely SDG3: good health and well-being, SDG7: affordable and clean energy, SDG8: decent work and economic growth, SDG11: sustainable cities and communities, and SDG13: climate action. On the other hand, trade-offs were identified for 9 SDGs, with rather minor implications, which can be further eliminated with the implementation of appropriate policies.

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Open Access

Incorporating citizen science to enhance public awareness in smart cities: The case study of Balaguer

2024, Cabeza, Luisa F., Teixidó Cairol, Mercè, Guarino, Francesco, Rincione, Roberta, Díaz Llobet, Manel, Gil Iranzo, Rosa María, Cellura, Maurizio, Mateu Piñol, Carles

The concept of a smart city is becoming increasingly popular to improve citizens' quality of life. Institutions are also committed to enhancing the sustainability of cities by implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This paper presents a Balaguer case study investigating energy demand monitoring, decreasing energy demand, and citizen acceptance in a municipality district. The study collected data from three sources: (1) quantitative data coming from on-site sensors; (2) quantitative data from a simulation of the area; and (3) qualitative data from questionnaires developed with a totem located in the city center. This study shows the importance of citizen science in contributing towards the increased awareness of energy demand, renewable energy, and climate change. But it also shows how citizen science can improve research quality involving the municipality authorities. This study also was instrumental in contributing to the increase in awareness among municipality authorities and capacity building on the topic. This activity may also contribute towards the implementation of actions to reduce the energy demand in public buildings and helping them in deploying policies to decrease energy demand in buildings, increase the use of renewable energy, and increase awareness among citizens. The government will use the information gathered to develop policies for citizen improvement.

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Open Access

Molten salts tanks thermal energy storage: aspects to consider during design

2024, Prieto, Cristina, Blindu, Adrian, Cabeza, Luisa F., Valverde, Juan, García, Guillermo

Concentrating solar power plants use sensible thermal energy storage, a mature technology based on molten salts, due to the high storage efficiency (up to 99%). Both parabolic trough collectors and the central receiver system for concentrating solar power technologies use molten salts tanks, either in direct storage systems or in indirect ones. But even though this is a mature technology, it still shows challenges in its implementation and operation. This paper underscores the critical importance of stringent design criteria for molten salt tanks in thermal storage technology. Focusing on the potential ramifications of design failures, the study explores various dimensions where an inadequate design can lead to severe consequences, even jeopardizing the viability of the entire technology. Key areas discussed include structural integrity, corrosion, thermal shock, thermal expansions, and others. By elucidating the multifaceted risks associated with design shortcomings, this paper aims to emphasize the necessity of thorough reviews and adherence to robust design principles for ensuring the success, safety, and sustainability of thermal storage technology.

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Open Access

Experimental evaluation of different macro-encapsulation designs for PCM storages for cooling applications

2023, Rehman, Omais Abdur, Palomba, Valeria, Vérez, David, Borri, Emiliano, Frazzica, Andrea, Brancato, Vincenza, Botargues, Teresa, Ure, Zafer, Cabeza, Luisa F.

Extensive research has been conducted on utilizing phase change materials for cooling applications, making it one of the most explored techniques in this domain. This research paper presents a comprehensive performance evaluation of a latent heat thermal energy storage unit featuring three distinct macro-encapsulation designs for phase change materials. The study aims to assess the thermal performance, efficiency, and practical applicability of these macro-encapsulation designs in a storage system. The PCM macro-encapsulation designs under investigation include cylindrical and rectangular shapes, each possessing different geometry. Two different configurations have been considered in this study. One configuration contains same PCM mass in order to have similar storage capacity while the other configuration has maximum PCM mass that can be inserted inside the tank. The used phase change material is a salt hydrate with melting temperature of 17 °C. The experimental setup consists of a controlled test rig that simulates real-world conditions and enables the comparative analysis of the three designs. Key performance parameters such as the charging and discharging time, temperature profiles, heat transfer rate, and energy storage/retrieval rates are measured and analysed. The results obtained from the experimental study provide valuable insights into the thermal behaviour, energy storage capacity, and overall effectiveness of the three macro-encapsulation designs. It is important to mention that use of an encapsulation design is highly dependent on application. The findings of this study contribute to the understanding of the impact of different macro-encapsulation designs on performance of thermal energy storage units. The results serve as a basis for optimizing macro-encapsulation designs, improving the efficiency and reliability of latent heat storage systems, and promoting their wider adoption in various energy management applications.

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Open Access

The Next Frontier for Climate Change Science. Insights from the authors ofthe IPCC 6th Assessment Report on knowledge gaps and priorities for research

2024-02, Bednar-Friedl, Birgit, Berndes, Goran, Birkmann, Joern, Cabeza, Luisa F., Creutzig, Felix, Deryng, Delphine, Kiessling, Wolfgang, Kreibiehl, Silvia, Krey, Volker, Krinner, Gerhard, Langhans, Simone D., Lecocq, Franck, Gunn, Elena Lopez, Marotzke, Jochem, Masson-Delmotte, Valérie, Minx, Jan Christoph, Pirani, Anna, Popp, Alexander, Pörtner, Hans-Otto, Ranasinghe, Roshanka, Riahi, Keywan, Rogelj, Joeri, Seneviratne, Sonia, Skea, Jim, Storelvmo, Trude, Thorne, Peter, Van Aalst, Maarten

As climate change impacts intensify globally in both frequency and magnitude, and with scientific consensus on what is yet to come if the world fails to act, the imperative to step up our collective response has never been more pressing. By providing the knowledge necessary to formulate effective mitigation and adaptation strategies, climate science serves as a critical enabler of climate action and a vital input to evidence-based policymaking. Bridging the knowledge gaps in climate change research is crucial for guiding the transition towards a low-carbon climate resilient future, for fostering consensus and alliances, for empowering global cooperation and for mobilising stakeholders across the society. This report draws attention to where additional research is required to effectively and adequately address climate change, aiming to inform future calls under the EU Horizon Europe R&I Programme and beyond.

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Open Access

Use of molten salts tanks for seasonal thermal energy storage for high penetration of renewable energies in the grid

2024, Prieto, Cristina, Tagle-Salazar, Pablo D., Patiño-Rodríguez, David, Schallenberg-Rodriguez, Julieta, Lyons, Padraig, Cabeza, Luisa F.

Energy storage is acknowledged a key technology to meet the challenges posed by the energy transition. Shortterm grid-connected storage, based on Li-Ion batteries, is becoming commonplace but seasonal energy storage at grid-scale will be needed for deep decarbonisation of the electrical power system. Pumped hydropower is considered to be the only mature technology for such applications, but this paper demonstrates that two-tanks molten salts systems, that are used today in commercial concentrating solar power (CSP) plants, can also be considered a mature technology that can be used at large scale for seasonal energy storage. This was established by evaluating the annual heat losses of molten salts tanks using validated models of these systems. The results show that the heat losses in a very well insulated molten salts tanks are around 1 K/day, which would result in good economic performance of the power block even if storage was required for up to months.

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Open Access

Sustainability of international research: evidence from an H2020 European project

2023, Fabiani, Claudia, De Albuquerque Landi, Fabiana Frota, Cabeza, Luisa F., Pisello, Anna Laura

Greenhouse gas emissions reduction is a critical topic in the scientific community, as researchers strive to produce knowledge for the betterment of society. However, it is important to acknowledge that researchers themselves engage in activities that have a significant environmental impact. Group meetings and conferences are under the spot due to their extensive contribution to emissions through travel, catering, hosting, and other event-related activities. To address this issue, our work aims to conduct an environmental diagnosis of an ongoing H2020 European project, focusing on the impacts associated with the periodical group meetings organized in each country involved. We also sought to evaluate researchers' stance on online meetings and collected environmental and personal opinions through dedicated online forms. Results show that while travel is the primary contributor to emissions, catering, meeting structures, and hosting support should not be overlooked. Conference location and availability of public transportation also play a crucial role in the final impact of the event, as they affect directly the 87% share of emissions due to travels. Besides, using local distributors and reducing hotel stays (representing about 5% of the final impact) may reduce the potential environmental burden of these events. On the other side, besides the obtained positive feedback from online meetings, in-person activities are still more effective for reinforcing human bonds and collaborations.

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Open Access

Thermal energy storage for direct steam generation concentrating solar power plants: Concept and materials selection

2024, Prieto, Cristina, Cabeza, Luisa F., Pavón Moreno, M. Carmen, Palomo, Elena

Direct steam generation (DSG) concentrating solar power (CSP) plants uses water as heat transfer fluid, and it is a technology available today. It has many advantages, but its deployment is limited due to the lack of an adequate long-term thermal energy storage (TES) system. This paper presents a new TES concept for DSG CSP plants. This system is based on three blocks, a saturated block based on phase change materials, an overheating block that elevates the vapor temperature of a heat transfer fluid to the desired values, and a preheating block that increases the temperature difference between a cold tank and a hot tank of a non-phase change thermal storage material. After a deep selection and characterization process, the material to be used is LiOH/KOH, since although it has the disadvantage of high corrosion, the identified advantages overcome it as an ideal PCM for this process.

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Open Access

Modelling the building-related photovoltaic power production potential in the light of the EU's Solar Rooftop Initiative

2024, Molnar, Gergely, Cabeza, Luisa F., Chatterjee, Souran, Ürge-Vorzatz, Diana

Decarbonizing the building sector is key to meet the EU climate goals by 2050. Although the recent policies recognized the importance of on-site solar energy production in the energy transition, there are only a few modelling studies analyzing how much the gap between the technically possible and policy-driven power generation of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels can be reduced. This study, therefore, uses geospatial techniques and the high-resolution Building Integrated Solar Energy (BISE) supply model to estimate the main spatial and temporal characteristics of the rooftop PV energy production potential. To support decision-making, important implications of the Solar Rooftop Initiative action plan of the European Commission on the future dimension of the PV electricity supply are also assessed in the context of the achievable potential. The modelling results indicate that the current rooftop PV technical potential could be about 2.7 PWh, being in similar extent with the EU power consumption. The largest country-level PV potentials can be found in Germany, France, Italy and Poland, with an increase of 30% by 2060. Our findings also underline that by following the latest policies, major improvement could be achieved in the EU's rooftop solar energy production by around 2040, depending greatly on the structure and energy efficiency niveau of the future building stock.

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Embargo

Characterisation of the COMFORTBOARD gypsum board for thermal energy storage in buildings

2024, Marín, Paula E., Ushak, Svetlana, Gracia Cuesta, Alvaro de, Cabeza, Luisa F.

Currently, the construction sector contributes considerably to the total energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Thermal energy storage (TES) systems are alternatives to increase the thermal inertia of buildings, aiming to use less energy, improve thermal comfort and reduce temperature fluctuations of interior spaces. One of the possible applications in buildings is to increase their thermal mass by impregnating phase change materials (PCM) in porous construction materials, e.g., gypsum boards. In this investigation, a commercial gypsum board impregnated with PCM (Knauf Comfortboard - BASF) was investigated by carrying out a structural and thermal characterisation. The thermal response obtained agrees with the product's technical data sheet provided by the supplier. The results of the thermal characterisation show that the inclusion of PCM in the gypsum board decreased the U-value by 2 % compared to the control sample (no PCM), increased the heat storage capacity by around 45 %, improved the thermal dynamic characteristics of the material by decreasing the thermal stability coefficient from 0.92 to 0.76 and increasing the thermal lag from 0.27 to 0.49 h. Our results sustain the potential application of commercial gypsum boards with PCM under environmental conditions across a wide range of daily temperature fluctuations (e.g., The North of Chile).