International Solar Fuel Forum

The International Solar Fuel Forum is an EU-funded initiative, acting as the central virtual meeting point for experts and stakeholders to engage with the latest research and development of solar fuel technology around the world.

Building on the European Union’s study on ‘Solar Fuels Research & Invest: Defining and developing the global solar fuel value chain: techno-economic analysis and pathways for sustainable implementation,’ the International Solar Fuel Forum was created. The Forum is an openly accessible online communication platform for experts and key investment stakeholders to share information, collaborate and attend virtual workshops on the future of solar fuels.

The study is based on the EU’s commitment to becoming a worldwide champion in renewable technologies and decarbonizing its society and economy. At COP21 in Paris, the European Union joined Mission Innovation (www.mission-innovation.net) and took on Innovation Challenge 5 on Converting Sunlight, to study the technological and market potential of solar fuels.

The European Commission has selected a consortium led by EY, with CEPS, IMEC and RINA Consulting, to perform:

  • a techno-economic analysis of solar fuel value chains,
  • a market outlook for 2050 and 2100, and
  • a technology development roadmap for 2030 and 2050.

By registering for the Forum, you will have the opportunity to actively contribute to the study and have privileged access to the project material and findings. As a participant of the Forum, you will also be invited to join the upcoming series of virtual workshops organised via the online platform, addressing different topics along the 4 main pathways of solar fuel identified in the study. These include Electrochemical, Thermochemical, Chemical (including artificial photosynthesis) and Biochemical pathways. 

  • Electrochemical

    The electrochemical pathway is the most mature technique to produce fuel from solar energy. It consists of coupling electricity sourced from photovoltaic cells or concentrated solar power to an electrolyser. The relevant technologies discussed in this pathway are the Alkaline Electrolysis Cell and Photo Electron Membrane Electrolysis Cell. Useable secretions include the solar fuel hydrogen and oxygen.

  • Thermochemical

    The thermochemical pathway is an upcoming approach to produce fuel from solar energy. It consists of coupling electricity sourced from solar power to an particular type electrolyser: a Solid Oxide Eletrolyser Cell. Because of the high working temperatures, this technology is partitioned under the thermochemical pathway. Useable secretions include the solar fuel hydrogen and oxygen.

  • Chemical – Artificial Leaf

    The artificial leaf, which is housed under the chemical pathway, is a silicon-based device that captures solar energy and uses it to split water, or combine carbon dioxide and water in a different application. The useable secretions are hydrogen or syngas, respectively. The technology is in a very early stage of development, thus requires significant research still to be done in order to improve efficiencies.

  • Chemical – Bionic Leaf

    The bionic leaf, which is housed under the chemical pathway, is a silicon-based system that incorporates hydrogen-eating bacteria. A first step involves the splitting of water by using solar energy and a Co-P catalyst. Afterwards, the bacteria absorb the hydrogen molecules and the CO2 to produce alcohol fuels. The technology is in a very early stage of development. As such, significant research still needs to be conducted in order to make an economically viable system.

  • Biochemical

    The biochemical pathway is characterised by technologies used to produce solar fuel by means of living organisms, in particular phototrophic organisms such as microalgae and cyanobacteria. These organisms absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide to grow and thrive. Microalgal biomass can be used to produce biofuels like bioethanol, biohydrogen, biomethane or biogas through different steps like cultivation, dewatering, fractionation and conversion processes. 

The first workshop will be in March 2020, with the agenda circulated in advance to members of the Forum. 

We need your expertise and insight, as scientific experts, investment stakeholders, academics, industry specialists, authorities and civil society, to develop a strong network of stakeholders interested in being at the forefront of global solar fuel research and innovation. Register now using the link below to access the free online Forum.

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