Net zero emissions: FUTEX outlines a sustainability vision

Sandy Du, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

FUTEX match-making events coming up for startups. Credit: TCA

Environmental destruction and excessive use of fossil fuels have increased the average global temperature. The world is experiencing unusual but frequent El Nino and La Nina events, melting glaciers of the North and South poles. Even worse, droughts, wildfires, and rainstorms are happening worldwide. Based on the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, The Paris Climate Agreement was an international treaty on climate change, adopted at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change. A long-term temperature goal is set to mitigate the global warming effects, which is keeping the rise in mean global temperature well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and preferably limiting the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

At the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), attending parties agreed to reduce methane emissions and end deforestation; some countries also committed to reducing the use of coal. India and China, major emitters of carbon dioxide, also commit to net-zero carbon emissions. These commitments bring the world a step closer to the vision of net-zero carbon emissions in 2050. Net-zero carbon emissions do not necessarily mean zero carbon dioxide emissions at all, it does mean offsetting CO2 emissions with compensatory measures such as ending deforestation and accelerating afforestation.

A single solution cannot perfectly achieve the goal of net-zero carbon emissions, we need a comprehensive strategy. Taiwan's 2050 net-zero emissions pathway consists of 4 major transition strategies: Energy Transition, Industrial Transition, Lifestyle Transition, and Social Transition. Reducing the use of fossil fuels, increasing the use of renewable energy, replacing high energy-consuming equipment with high-efficiency ones, and promoting electric vehicles are some of the tactical practices. In terms of renewables, the Ministry of Economic Affairs aims to increase its usage to 20% by 2025, among which the capacity of solar power stations would reach 20GW, and the capacity of offshore wind power farms would exceed 5.7GW.

Renewables such as solar and wind power are subject to high uncertainty, and many governments are promoting energy storage systems of various scales. These storage systems can improve the overall stability of the power grid besides storing precious energy.

A glance into future technologies and trends in the next 3-10 years, the "Future Tech Pavilion (FUTEX)" took place on Oct 13-15 and attracted tens of thousands of visitors. To connect Taiwan with the global market, FUTEX will hold exclusive online matchmaking sessions on Oct 17-19 for startups in sustainable energy, AIoT, and biomedical industries. The first session will set a stage for startups to showcase their technologies, and the second session will offer "1-on-1 matchmaking" events for them to explore opportunities in the global market. For further details, please visit the online exhibition site.

Startups Showcase Blooming Green Energy Technologies

Fabulous and exciting research projects were presented in the "Sustainable Energy & Evolutionary Materials" exhibition zone. A team from National Sun Yat-sen University showcased a project called "A carbon capture warrior-Sarcodia suae." The team believed that seaweeds are excellent carbon catchers. However, elevated seawater temperature in Taiwan in summer is not suitable for seaweed cultivation. After two years of outdoor trials, the team finally succeeded in overcoming the high summer temperatures and lowering the turbidity of the aquaculture pond, allowing the seaweed to be successfully cultivated outdoors year-round, and its carbon sequestration capacity is more than twice that of the Daan Forest.

The "Hanging submerged plant pot for vegetable cultivation power generation" presented by students from TungHai University leverages dry corps for power generation. The team places anodes and cathodes in soil and water, respectively. The microorganisms on the anodes in the soil will use the residual sugars produced by photosynthesis to drive an anodic reaction. The cathodes in the water will react with dissolved oxygen to produce a cathodic reaction. The potential difference between the two electrodes generates electron transfer, and collecting electrical energy is made possible.

Another exciting project came from a team at National Taiwan University - "TaidaFloat - a Novel Floating Wind Turbine Platform for Taiwan." The project designed a semi-submersible platform that can carry a 15MW wind turbine in the ocean. The platform mooring system can withstand a typhoon with a 50-year return period. It has a ballast control system that keeps the platform stable in wind waves, allowing wind power generation.

Worldwide Experts Gather to Outline Taiwan's Sustainability Blueprint

Besides many forward-looking technologies showcased in each exhibition zone, the 2022 FUTEX hosted a series of global forums and keynote discussions in response to global trends and the latest issues, covering topics from semiconductors, net-zero transition, and application technology. These talk events were given by industry, government, and research experts, offering a new outlook on technology.

"The Technology-based Revolution for the Net Zero Future" forum held on Oct 14 invited many experts to share their experiences and insights. Dean Kline, CEO of Yarra Energy Foundation, gave a presentation on "Supporting solar PV uptake with lithium-ion community batteries." Jhon Jung, Director of Energy Vault, shared about "Think Outside the Box: How Gravity, Software, and Other Energy Technologies Can Optimize Any Grid Today." Dr. Edda Sif Pin Aradóttir, CEO of Carbix, talked about "How Does Carbfix Turn CO2 into Stones?" Watch the video for more details.

The "2050 net-zero transition" is a pressing goal that governments worldwide are eager to achieve. Undoubtedly, technology is crucial to realize the vision. Sustainable energy, low-carbon, circularity, carbon-negative, and social science are five major areas for technology research and development efforts. As a member of the global society, Taiwan launched a "National Net-Zero Technology Action Plan" to pave the way toward 2030. By outlining the emerging technologies for energy saving and carbon reduction, such as hydrogen energy, smart grid, and energy storage equipment, the Taiwanese government aims to enhance the competitiveness of local industries and help them seize promising business opportunities while reaching the ultimate "2050 Net-Zero Transition" goal.

Join the exclusive 1-on-1 matchmaking events on Oct 17-19 to explore promising startups and their projects

Join the exclusive 1-on-1 matchmaking events on Oct 17-19 to explore promising startups and their projects
Photo: TCA