Renewable hopes and concerns

News editor

As the world’s leaders prepare to meet in Rio at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development this week, closer to home there are several events looking at specific ways to address the issue of how to meet our energy needs without causing irreparable damage to the planet.

Advocates of biomass believe the raw material is suitable as a replacement for fossil fuels, but it is not sufficient for all applications and ranks in priority after food and feed.

These and other issues will be discussed at The European Biomass Conference and Exhibition thatkicks off today in Milan.

The week-long conference is billed as the world’s leading science-to-science, business-to-business and science-to-industry events for the biomass sector.

Day one sees the launch of the first World Forum on Fuel, Food and the Environment: The Bioenergy Challenge.

The organisers say the main purpose of the World Forum is to stimulate open discussion from all stakeholders on the future of bioenergy and biofuels, and specifically, how policy makers can steer a sustainable course through the many complex issues within the biofuel debate.

Issues to be debated by experts include: steps towards worldwide governance of biofuels; factors effecting the impact of biofuel production on food, environment and green house gas emissions; and regulatory approaches to reduce Indirect Land Use Changes effects on the environment.

Renewable, decentralised energy and the export opportunities it presents for UK companies is on the agenda at an event taking place tomorrow in Germany.

Decentralised Energy Solutions in Great Britain and Germany (Renewable Energy) has been organized by UKTI Germany, which says the event is a unique networking opportunity for British manufacturers of small and microgeneration technologies interested in the German market.

The UK and Germany have set ambitious emissions targets but both need to ensure a secure, stable and affordable energy supply. Decentralised generation solutions could play an important role on the road to achieving this goal.

Delegates will convene in Düsseldorf to look at PV, solar thermal, ground and air source heat pumps, wind turbines and hydro, and their respective roles in a decentralised energy system.

The workshop will explore these by looking at British and German frameworks and incentive schemes to support small and micro-generation technologies as well as market entry strategies.

Meanwhile in the UK itself, the Geological Society of London is holding a discussion on shale gas fracking. Research published earlier this year showed that there was a minimal probability that hydraulic fracturing for shale gas would contaminate shallow aquifers.

The paper’s lead author, Prof Richard Davies from Durham University, will speak as part of an public briefing where policy makers, industry representatives, scientists and the public can discuss the potential for shale gas as a UK resource and its safe extraction.

North of the border, Aberdeen is set to host Innovate with Aberdeen – A Funding Guide tomorrow, where Scottish technology companies are expected to gather to learn about access European funding.

Hosted by Aberdeen University and Scotland Europa, the event will see representatives from Scottish SMEs take part in round-table discussions on a range of funding-related themes including European funding, knowledge transfer partnerships and innovation vouchers.

Finally, the rumble of heavy army land systems will be heard around Millbrook in Bedfordshire this week as companies gather to show off their military hardware.

Taking place on the 20 and 21st, the organisers of DVD2012 say the event brings together the acquisition and support community with military stakeholders and industry organisations for two days of informal discussion, briefings, demonstrations and displays.