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In today’s Morning Brief, we open up with the Energy Transition Expertise Centre Stakeholder Workshop taking place later this month for those interested in the EnTEC project. We also let you know about the latest news in the EU regarding R&I like a ‘liquid tree’ in Belgrade fighting air pollution and news about hydrogen wells and more!

Any comments or suggestions, hit me up with an email on teresa.carvalho@inesc.pt.

In today's Morning Brief:

In today’s Morning Brief:

Energy Transition Expertise Centre Stakeholder Workshop

The first Energy transition expertise centre (EnTEC) stakeholder workshop is organised jointly by the European Commission and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI. It aims to inform stakeholders about the EnTEC project and present the first 2 in-depth studies:

– Enabling the Energy Transition – How flexible digital options can support

– The role of renewable H2 import & storage to scale up the EU deployment of H2

Fraunhofer ISI will introduce the project. The EnTEC partners McKinsey and Trinomics will present the studies. Afterwards there will be the opportunity to discuss the study results and ask questions to the project team.

Don’t miss this fascinating workshop taking place Monday 31 January from 10h00 to 12h30 CET by registering here!

‘Liquid tree’ in Belgrade fighting back against air pollution

Belgrade has an innovative tool in the fight against dirty air – this so-called “liquid tree”. It’s Serbia’s first urban photo-bioreactor, a solution for tackling greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.

It contains six hundred litres of water and uses microalgae to bind carbon dioxide and produce pure oxygen through photosynthesis.

“The microalgae replaces two, 10-year-old trees or 200 square metres of lawn,” said Dr Ivan Spasojevic, one of the authors of the project from the Institute for Multidisciplinary Research at the University of Belgrade. “The system is the same because both trees and grass perform photosynthesis and bind carbon dioxide”.

“Our goal is not to replace forests but to use this system to fill those urban pockets where there is no space for planting trees.” Could this be a sustainable solution for the most polluted cities in Europe?!

France to hold EU presidency conference on international cooperation in R&I

The conference in Marseille on 8 and 9 March will promote balanced cooperation in research and innovation with countries outside the EU.

“It will underscore the need to uphold the EU’s values and interests, as well as the requirement for global standards, in particular for intellectual property, to assert the EU’s role as a driving force and initiator of these standards,” the French Council presidency’s plans say.

The EU’s openness to science cooperation with other countries has suffered several blows this year after Switzerland was denied access to the EU’s research programme Horizon Europe while the UK’s participation in the programme continues to hang in the air.

Hydrogen could be taken straight from the ground

Natural, or white, hydrogen is continuously produced in the earth’s crust, and scientists are now discovering there’s much more of it stored underground than previously thought. 

It’s a renewable resource that can be captured by simply drilling a well. One such pool was found in Mali in the 1980s, but it took decades before someone proposed to extract the gas. Today, the well gives out 98% pure hydrogen and has not recorded any decrease in production since extraction started in 2012.

Industry is ready to hop on the natural hydrogen train too. The French energy company Engie has been exploring the potential of natural hydrogen since 2016. It started off with projects in Brazil, where the company developed sensors to monitor the flux of hydrogen in specific areas, and has since expanded to other areas in the world.

Now, competition is picking up as start-ups and bigger companies turn to natural hydrogen, rushing to get licenses to explore its potential. “There is a lot of competition. We saw that in the South Australia state when they opened the mining rights to natural hydrogen exploration,” said Olivier Lhote, special adviser on hydrogen at Engie.

To read more about this click here

Europe needs to understand Chinese research – or risks being exploited

The EU urgently needs better intelligence about China’s science and technology system to avoid being taken advantage of, warns a new report, the latest sign of European anxiety that it lacks a deep understanding of the country.

There is an information “asymmetry” between China, which has a long-standing global network on the lookout for foreign technology, and Europe, which only recently woke up to the fact that China might be a technological rival, according to the Berlin-based Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS).

In the past two years, Brussels has pivoted away from blanket research openness, taking a more cautious approach towards China.

In 2019, the Commission for the first time labelled the country a “systemic rival”, among other things, and last year launched its global approach to research and innovation, seeking to set out tougher and more reciprocal terms of engagement.

MERICS researchers were themselves blacklisted by Beijing last year in retaliation for EU sanctions on officials linked to repression of Uyghurs.

Despite this growing frostiness, the MERICS report stresses there is still plenty of benefit working with China, if done properly.

Read more here.

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