Outcome of the 2nd RD20 Conference 2020

The 2nd RD20 Conference was on the current trends and future vision concerning the R&D in the field of clean energy technology in the G20 member nations.

Leaders’ Summary

1) Introduction

A decarbonized society is an urgent and challenging target shared by all nations in order to mitigate climate change and other environmental impacts of energy use. Accelerating the development of clean energy technologies is a prerequisite to achieving this target.

The development and deployment of a wide range of clean energy technologies requires addressing a number of challenging goals, many of which can be achieved through international collaboration.

RD20 is a global conference focusing on clean energy technologies for facilitating the realization of a decarbonized society and creating the necessary environment for international joint research by strengthening collaboration among leading institutions of G20 countries.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2nd RD20 conference was held online from September 29th to October 9th, in two separate sessions; technical sessions and leaders’ session, as a part of Tokyo “Beyond Zero” Week comprising six leading international conferences organized by Japan.

The purpose of this document is to summarize the presentations and discussions by the leaders and top experts in the sessions, with a number of remarks which are shared by the leaders in this conference.

2) Technical sessions

Four technical sessions specifically addressed renewable energy, next generation energy management system with batteries, hydrogen and carbon capture, utilization and storage. Brief summary of discussions is as follows:
i) Renewable energy
This session addressed global and long-term issues in solar photovoltaics (PV) to explore further deployment of PV for decarbonization. The session was comprised of a long-term scenario for renewables from the perspectives of IRENA, the tremendous growth of perovskite solar cell technologies from basic science to commercialization, the roles and significance of international framework in International Energy Agency (IEA) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to support further development of PV technologies and industries.

ii) Next generation energy management system(EMS) with batteries
This session covered a wide range of technical issues on energy storage and batteries including fundamental research on materials, recycling, and energy integration systems. Dr. YOSHINO gave a special presentation based on his Nobel Lecture in 2019 to provide future prospect for lithium ion batteries in the next generation energy systems. As technical issues, long-term durability, life-cycle management including recycling were discussed. The importance of international collaboration in basic research of materials and their analysis were shared by the panelists.

iii) Hydrogen
Recent attention to hydrogen was ascribed to a global consensus of decarbonization and to its practical use. Hydrogen produced using renewables or low carbon footprint energy is a key vector in a long-term scenario towards decarbonization. A variety of strategies and measures in individual countries or regions were highlighted in this session. Examples of hydrogen technology deployment strategy were illustrated for the case of EU and Germany. More technical presentations included high efficiency electrolysis using Solid Oxide Electrolyser Cells (SOEC) and Power to X strategies using hydrogen for energy storage, as energy carrier or for intermediate step towards green chemistry.

iv) Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS)
CCUS, including carbon recycling technologies, have advantage in their compatibility with conventional energy infra structures, and their potential for mitigation of climate change. Technology options, progress and challenges were discussed. The possibility of negative emissions utilizing biomass-CCS (BECCS) was also discussed. Additional topics specifically discussed included methanation and synthesis of other fuels such as methanol, ethanol and hydrocarbons. International collaboration was recognized as essential for integration of relevant technologies and for realizing a value chain of CCUS products.

More detailed reports on the technical sessions will be published in “Now & Future 2020”.

3) Leaders’ session

The leaders shared their views and discussed how to resolve scientific and technical issues on clean energy technologies through international collaboration.

On the basis of the discussions in the technical sessions, the leaders recognized the important aspects of international collaboration realized by further joint fundamental scientific researches, intellectual infrastructures such as the development of standards and human resource development which includes providing opportunities to young talented researchers. Taking stock of several governmental initiatives, the leaders agreed to continue communication to strengthen relationships among institutions in order to enhance international collaborations.

They also shared that a trilateral cooperation among academia, industry and policy makers is crucial for further development of clean energy technologies and for their implementation to our societies.

4) Action plan and outlook

RD20 intends to constitute an innovative and ambitious opportunity for building a global collaborative research platform, and this initiative has the ambition to lead to significant progress toward resolving global issues related to environment, energy, and sustainability.

In order to formulate an action plan, AIST as a host of the RD20 will summarize and publish the abstracts submitted by participating institutions as “Now & Future 2020”, which will be utilized for considering collaboration within the framework of RD20.

Since clean energy technologies are highly diversified across multiple disciplines and are heavily depending on individual national strategies, a bird’s eye perspective and holistic approach are important to make international research agendas converging toward constructive and complementary topics of common interest for decarbonization.

Referring to such information, institutions with similar interests are expected to continue communication and more in-depth discussions for the specific purpose of launching and/or strengthening collaboration which will eventually lead to global benefit.

5) Concluding Remarks

The leaders are encouraged to proactively participate in the RD20 conference for more fruitful outcomes.

In addition, all the participants shared recognition of the crucial role of R&D in clean energy technologies development including the potential to contribute to recovery from the COVID-19 crisis by reducing costs, improving performance and long-term reliability, and supporting the integration of variable renewable energy sources.

6) Acknowledgements

The leaders thanked the participants for all their valuable contributions, the leadership of AIST in particular the efforts of Global Zero-Emission Research Center as the organizer, and the perennial support by the Government of Japan.