With a view to shifting completely away from fossil fuels such as gas, oil and coal, an overview of the renewable energy resources available and their role is first presented. How necessary is the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy and what challenges will we face?
One scenario will be that renewable energy primarily comes in the form of electrical energy from wind and sun. One of the major challenges will be to be able to smooth and store this energy so as to eliminate the temporal variations that are indisputably attached to Such renewable forms of energy. One way to store energy can be to produce so-called "solar-fuels" that include, for example, hydrogen, methanol, methane, etc. These are produced via various catalysts that can make the processes faster and more energy-efficient.
The development and production of catalysts requires a deep insight into the chemical processes at the nuclear level and in the following we must provide some examples of how to identify the active sites and specifically design better or completely new catalysts. When you talk about the circulation of electrical energy using catalysis, first of all, Electrocatalysis will play a major role, as water can be used for hydrogen and it is again transformed into electricity using fuel cells.
We need to look at what specific challenges we face in this context. Hydrogen is not optimal as fuel for the transport sector and it is therefore interesting to look at other energy storage media, such as hydrocarbons, for which we have an excellent infrastructure today.
Finally, it could also be imagined that sunlight can be turned directly into hydrogen by splitting water directly, thereby saving the animal joints. Examples of such visions will be discussed.