Energy Challenges

The Energy Challenges

The global energy evolution scenario unanimously defined by scholars from around the world is characterized by local and global phenomena of climate change and an increasingly energy-intensive industrial system. Indeed, it is expected that in 2030 global energy demand will have increased by more than 50% of current consumption, two-thirds of which will be attributed to developing nations, and fossil fuels will continue to represent the main source of energy supply1. Global emissions of carbon dioxide will also increase more than 50% by 2030; this increase is mainly attributable to the electricity generation sector, and ¾ of this increase will hinge upon developing nations.

To counter the risk of climate change, the European Union has set the goal2 of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% compared to 1990 levels by 2050 (the EU's share of global emissions is about 10%). Achieving this ambitious goal implies, in practice, the complete de-carbonization of energy production, a process of efficiency and innovation that could strengthen Europe's competitiveness and the security of the energy supply.

The main methods proposed for a zero-emissions system relate to the development of technology for:

  • energy efficiency, with particular reference to end-users
  • renewable sources
  • capture and storage of CO2 from power generation plants
  • nuclear energy (last-generation plants considered "safe" and sustainable compared to traditional sources -> the EU did not give limitations to member countries)

In the above scenario, almost half of short-term CO2 reduction comes from energy efficiency measures in the areas of energy end-use. The Civil sector (Residential + Commercial) represents the main segment of intervention, because of its growing share of total energy consumption, the variety of technology options already available in all required energy services in the sector (indoor climate control in summer and winter, lighting, electrical appliances, etc.), and the relatively short average life of the devices.

In the EU, thanks to the enactment of the Kyoto Protocol in 2005 and the sustainability policies adopted, there has been significant growth of energy produced from renewable sources, contributing to the reduction of carbon dioxide. In 2010, the share of energy from renewable sources was 12.4% (more than half of the target set for 2020). The production of energy from renewable sources, despite the international crisis, has seen extraordinary development on a global scale since 2004. In 2010 global investments in renewable technology reached USD $211 billion, an increase of 32% from a year earlier and about 10 times the level of 2005. In the same period, photovoltaic and wind energy technology showed a commercial trade annual growth rate equal to 5 times the overall manufacturing sector. However, EU domestic demand, particularly in the photovoltaic sector, was much higher than production capacity, resulting in a steady increase in imports totaling 62% of the sector worldwide.

CO2 capture and storage technology are expected to reduce coal and natural gas emissions, accounting for 20% of the overall annual reduction of emissions in 2050. They would focus primarily on electricity production in the most energy-intensive industries (for example, the steel and cement sectors). However, this technology is still in demonstration development and would be ready for use on a large scale (menaing cost-competitive) after 2035. All this would require an annual investment of about €10 billion2.

Technologies to support emission reductions and the role of CAE

The energy scenarios and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions set out in the preceding paragraph underlie the development and extensive use of technology that makes the proposed goals possible. This development requires both heavy investment in research and development (public and private), and incentive policies to achieve economic self-sustainability.
Precisely this requirement means that the countries should ask themselves and give clear indications of, what must be done and which technology should be deemed as a priority.

In this context, since 2007 the European Commission has developed a Strategic Energy Technology Plan3 that brings technological innovation to the center of strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure the security of energy supply.

The SET Plan identifies two priority actions to be implemented over the next 10 years, albeit with different time horizons.

The first set identifies actions with a time horizon of 2020, including:

  • Facilitate the penetration of efficient technology on the demand side (end-use)
  • Render CO2 capture and storage technology (CCS) commercial
  • Double wind capacity with a particular focus on offshore applications
  • Demonstrate the commercial feasibility of large-scale photovoltaic and concentrated solar energy
  • Organize smart grids with increasing amounts of renewable sources and distributed generation
  • Exploit the potential of nuclear energy by identifying permanent solutions for waste
  • Achieve competitive and sustainable production of second-generation biofuels

The second set of actions, aimed at achieving goals by 2050, includes:

  • Market entry of new generations of renewable energy technology
  • Substantial progress in energy storage technology

Similar conclusions, from the point of view of enabling technology for achieving the goals, are stated in various documents published by international organizations and agencies such as, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The development and subsequent industrialization of all these new technologies, from the technical and scientific point of view, requires and will require in the coming years a huge commitment of intelligence, first-class technical skills, and tools for designing components and systems in the best ways.

In this context, CAE Technology and Intelligent Digital Prototyping (iDP) hold, and will increasingly hold, an absolutely determining role in whether the project ideas can be tested, optimized and validated before prototypes are built.

What can EnginSoft do for you?

EnginSoft is a company that has based its competitive advantage on virtual prototyping since the 1980es, and has always been diligent in the training and formation of its technical staff in order to provide companies with the best solutions and the most suitable software for their specific needs.

EnginSoft’s strength is the multidisciplinary approach that includes all areas of Computer Based Engineering, from the manufacturing process to the detailed 3D CFD simulation of power generation components such as turbines, compressors, heat exchangers, and more. 


1. A roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 – EU 52011DC0112

2. EAI – Energia, Ambiente e Innovazione 3/2012

3. European Council conclusions adopted on the basis of the Energy Commission package, for example

communication "An Energy Policy for Europe" (COM/2007)

Case Study

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    Molten salts have been used to store solar energy with proven results for over a decade. This study was done by EnginSoft on behalf of Eurotecnica Spa, a leader in the design of large molten salts storage systems. It involved the virtual modeling of an entire molten salts storage system with the Flowmaster software suite for fluid system simulation. Learn more ...

  • Air Cooled Heat Exchanger Systems Performance Modeling

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