The following is the welcome address delivered in the opening session of mESC-IS 2021
I welcome you all to the 5th International Symposium on Materials for Energy Storage and Conversion. I remember the welcome address I have given in 2019 in Akyaka, I also remember few words I said in Belgrade in mESC-IS 2018. I was confident about what I said then.
Today the picture is quite different.
My feeling is like that of someone who has worked very hard, made preparation for all, just to realize that missed the big event.
We are confident as to what we can do as mankind. We altered the surface of the world, we have opened agricultural fields, built dams on rivers. The picture of world from space, cities shinning with brightness perhaps summarizes what I am trying to say.
It is true that whatever we have achieved, we achieved in the last 10 000 years., i.e. in a period of global warming. Whatever we have achieved is confined to a thin layer of the earth’s crust and no more. We talk about colonising Moon and Mars. But at the same time we feel helpless against wildfires and floods losing hundreds of lives and millions of trees.
We never looked at the problem of controlling the thin layer of atmosphere that wrapped us all around. We have to find a way of draining rains from clouds before they are overloaded with too much humidity causing floods. Similarly we have to find a way of enriching atmosphere with humidity before it becomes too dry to cause wildfires.
So far we looked at our energy needs as a way of maintaining our lives on earth. But I guess we have to change this and relook at the energy as a way of “colonizing” the world. This means lots of green energy and seasonal storage.
Returning to mESC-IS, the agenda is quite clear. We have made considerable progress with regard to mobility. Electric vehicles are going to replace the existing fleet based on internal combustion engine. I am happy to say that many of the papers in this symposium, including the first session this morning, have this at their background.
Also we will have a fast progress with renewable energy. There is a challenge there whether to store the renewable energy in batteries or generate hydrogen via electrolysers feeding it to a gas network or perhaps storing it underground. If the former is to be the case, there ought to be a drastic reduction in the cost of batteries. Again I am happy to say that this is an area also addressed in this symposium.
It is true that storing gas is easier than storing electrons. It appears that initially renewable energy-hydrogen route, i.e. the so called renewable hydrogen will dominate. As a result, we shall see the integration of electricity grid with a gas grid opening up a vast area for reversible cells, i.e. cells acting as electrolysers to produce hydrogen and when needed acting as fuel cell generating electricity.
Finally, I guess we reach a stage where hydrogen would be as accessible as the electricity is today. Then there will be a real challenge, as to whether it will be the batteries – electric car which seems to be prevailing path now will continue their dominance thereafter or it will be hydrogen-fuel cell which will work their way in an perhaps become equally or even more attractive. Till we reach this point we will live through an incubation period where each line of activity serving its own purpose, complimenting one another in certain ways.
I am quite happy with the spectrum of papers to be presented in this symposium. We seem to be addressing all important issues. I am sure that the sessions we will have throughout this 4- day period will be both fruitful and enjoyable, continuing the tradition of previous mESC-IS symposia.
14 September 2021