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Cooperating to advance global energy systems

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Researchers from Tsinghua University and the University of Alberta discussed energy systems in a day-long meeting to support joint research projects.

Researchers from Tsinghua University and the University of Alberta discussed energy systems in a day-long meeting to support joint research projects.

Tsinghua University researchers visit the University of Alberta to discuss joint energy research projects

Researchers in both Canada and China know that advancing energy systems worldwide is a top priority for addressing climate change. With a philosophy of increasing innovation through cooperation, Tsinghua University (Tsinghua) and the University of Alberta (UAlberta) are working together to tackle the issue through a number of joint projects covering topics from carbon capture, storage and utilization to batteries to biomass.

On the 25th of September, researchers from both institutions met at UAlberta to discuss groundbreaking new research partnerships supported by the UAlberta-Tsinghua Joint Research Centre for Future Energy and Environment. The workshop was coordinated and supported by the Energy Systems Signature Area, Future Energy Systems, Faculty of Engineering, China Institute at UAlberta and UAlberta International. 

The workshop opened with welcoming remarks from Dr. Anne Naeth, Director of Energy Systems and Future Energy Systems, Dr. Fraser Forbes, UAlberta Dean of Engineering, and Dr. Zheng Li, Executive Vice President of the Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua. An introduction to the partnership was provided by Dr. Zhe Wang, Vice Director of the International Joint Laboratory on Low Carbon Clean Energy Innovation.

Keynote presentations were made by UAlberta professor Dr. Rick Chalaturnyk and Dr. Li of Tsinghua.

Dr. Chalaturnyk studies geological storage of greenhouse gases, including a broad spectrum of considerations from modeling and monitoring of the systems, to risk assessment and impact studies. His talk pointed out the importance of rapid transition to a low-carbon economy, and how that must begin immediately by reducing carbon emissions from our current technologies.

Dr. Li’s message was focused on the decarbonification of the power sector, where much of the world’s carbon emissions originate. He outlined China’s strides towards a low carbon transition, and the importance of growing the amount of power derived from renewable sources.

Two round table style breakout sessions demonstrated the value of bringing together researchers from across the world. With 16 Tsinghua attendees, and over 30 UAlberta faculty and graduate students, a number of interesting ideas and perspectives were shared, with insights influenced by the country each researcher calls home. The topics discussed included the future of energy in China and Canada, ways in which to further student mobility, and how to encourage significant research outcomes.

The workshop concluded with updates and summaries of the jointly funded research projects, outlining how research collaborations can help answer critical questions regarding how to green-up energy production, use, and waste. This year seven new projects are being funded, joining seven projects begun in 2018. Together, these seed projects will help establish the foundation for a robust energy research program addressing global energy transition.  

There’s much to be gained from such international partnerships. Current energy systems require innovation and optimization to meet the 1.5 °C goal set by the Paris Agreement. Whether a country’s population is 36 million or 1.4 billion, new and improved technologies will be part of the solution, and every researcher collaborating through the Joint Centre for Future Energy and Environment is eager to play a part.