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Sustainable Development and Technologies National Programme of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences


Sustainable energy in a smart system

The aim of the task is to investigate how renewable and conventional carbon neutral power plants can co-operate in electricity systems with high renewable energy penetration, and how the proper operation and security of supply of the system can be ensured. The research is focusing on Hungary and neighboring countries and investigates how weather-dependent renewables and nuclear power plants can be managed to work together effectively in a cooperative electricity system. In addition, nuclear fuel cycle simulations, pioneered in the 1980s by the founding director, Professor Gyula Csom, which are fundamental for assessing the sustainability of nuclear power, have been revitalized in the 2010s and now provide a state-of-the-art toolbox for analyzing a wide range of scenarios. The long-term and sustainable cooperation between renewable and nuclear power plants requires not only the analysis of electricity mixes and power systems, but also the analysis back-end options of the nuclear fuel cycle.

Decarbonizing electricity systems, increasing security of supply and tackling rising energy prices is one of today’s biggest challenges. This project aims to explore possible solutions to address these challenges. To this end, we are working on the following main tasks: building electricity market models with hourly resolution; predicting hourly electricity consumption data and weather-dependent generation of energy sources using machine learning methods; investigating and modelling the physical parameters of electricity storage facilities, exploring the possibilities of integrating small modular reactors into the electricity system, and analyzing the long-term modelling and sustainability of the nuclear fuel cycle.

The main objective is to explore solutions to achieve the sustainability, climate change mitigation and security of supply objectives for electricity supply through the combined and optimized use of nuclear and renewable energy sources with the highest efficiency, highest social benefits and lowest social costs.

Increasing the energy supply security through the efficient use of zero-carbon heat sources (geothermal heat, waste heat, solar heat, biomass decomposition heat) for heating and power production

The following topics are investigated: utilization of low-temperature heat sources for power production; waste heat recovery from engines and other equipment; environmental protection, life cycle analysis (LCA); heat pumps, utilization of heat sources for cooling and heating; utilization of solar thermal and industrial waste heat; integration of zero-carbon sources for power production; thermal storage and related problems.

Development of Atmospheric Environmental Products to Support the Potential Use of Wind and Solar Energy

1. Atmospheric support for the use of renewable energies

Accurate knowledge of the current state of the atmosphere, i.e. a constantly updated database based on observations made with authentic measuring instruments, is essential for forecasting potentially usable wind and solar energy in a given area and in a given time interval. In addition to traditional meteorological elements, the database includes information provided by weather satellites, meteorological radars, vertical wind profiles and cloud base meters, as well as cloud cameras.

The most important part of our planned developments is the harmonization of the measured atmospheric data with other background information: the creation of an objective analysis. The concept of objective analysis has existed since the beginning of numerical modeling. This concept originally meant the production of information from an irregular surveillance network on a regular grid, using an objective method. Later, with the appearance of the background field and other types of information, the concept of objective analysis was also expanded, but the emphasis is definitely on the fact that the analysis field is generated automatically on the regular grid, without direct human intervention. The creation of these types of methods became essential with the appearance and development of numerical forecasting, since computers can only be entrusted with operations that can be performed automatically. The objective analysis forms the basis of the linear forecast, which is prepared for the next 1-2 hours. We call this meteorological nowcasting: according to our expectations, significant methodological development results will be achieved in the field of objective analysis and nowcasting.

Our developments may later pave the way for making forecasts with dynamic models for several hours or days more accurate. Due to the non-linear development of the atmosphere, this is currently the only possibility to predict the future state of the atmosphere, thus the availability of renewable energies. In addition to conventional models, the WRF (Weather Research and Forecasting) model, which is also used for research and development tasks, can play a role in our planned research and development.

2. Development of air quality products and their role in achieving sustainable development goals

The aim of the research topic is to contribute to a more reliable assessment of the state of air quality by using emission inventories, measurement information and model calculations. This can have important socio-economic benefits by enabling both individuals and society to prevent/minimize exposure to poor air quality and reduce pollutant emissions and associated negative health effects.

Exploring the connections between air pollution and sustainable development goals is also important from the point of view of society. In addition, research into the factors that reduce pollution and the factors that cause pollution and the evaluation of these effects are also important from the point of view of a more efficient and effective climate/air quality policy. Exploring the spatio-temporal behavior of air quality is also an important research area from the point of view of sustainable development.

Innovative Methods for Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

Ensuring a sufficient supply of raw materials, energy and water in sufficient quantity and quality is one of the biggest challenges of our time. Reducing dependence on raw materials and energy is a high priority for our country and the world. Therefore, any development that makes progress in the sustainable use of natural resources and in reducing dependency is important. The targeted research programme aims to carry out research in four priority areas with the following hypotheses:

  • Long-term hydrological data series can provide much more information than is currently available from conventional methods. By developing new interpretation methods, we can gain a much more accurate picture of current and potential future changes in the elements of the earth’s hydrological cycle, including our groundwater resources.
  • The application of artificial intelligence-based methods could open up new opportunities for hydrogeophysical method development, with direct applications in water research and geothermal energy.
  • The storage of hydrogen as a renewable energy source in a safe and efficient manner in the subsurface can be addressed.
  • In addition to primary mining deposits, mining and industrial by-products and electronic waste can be an excellent source, in line with the principles of the circular economy.