10 million for new elite centre with the sun at its centre
A new elite research centre under the SDU Climate Cluster takes a holistic approach to solar energy. The centre will not only design, build and develop paper-thin, flexible solar panels that can be mounted on all kinds of things, but also look at how they are implemented in society and how consumers better embrace the new solutions.
Major societal challenges like climate change require interdisciplinary solutions. Although I have been researching solar cells for more than ten years now, this is the first time that there has been an opportunity to include all disciplines, and I am really looking forward to that. It's about making climate research applicable in society.
Solar energy accounts for only four percent of the world's total power generationSolar energy is essential if we are to prevent a temperature rise of more than the 2 degrees that has been the world's stated climate target since the Paris Agreement was reached in 2015. In just three hours, the Earth's surface is irradiated by the Sun to an extent equivalent to the world's annual energy consumption. But while solar energy is one of the fastest growing markets in the green transition, it accounts for just four percent of the world's total power generation.
"And we need to change that. We have been researching organic solar cells for several years, which are not only millimetre thin, but also sustainable and can be designed in colour, flexibility and also transparency. In the long term, we can extract power with the solar cells and then either store it in supercapacitors or turn the power into green hydrogen, which we have also started researching. In this way, the technologies fit together and play directly into Power-to-X," says Morten Madsen.
A holistic approach neededOrganic solar cells, supercapacitors, green hydrogen and power-to-X are all terms that lie at the end of the government's hockey stick model, but while it may be the engineers and the natural and technical sciences that will develop the solutions to climate challenges, expertise within humanities and social sciences is needed to bring solutions into play.
It's about making climate research applicable in society, for example getting companies to invest in the technology, but also informing consumers about the new technologies so that we can minimise any barriers and get the technology implemented in everyday life
"An interdisciplinary approach involving researchers from multiple faculties helps to ensure that our efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change are comprehensive, well-coordinated and mutually reinforcing, ultimately leading to more effective and sustainable outcomes."
As examples, Morten Madsen mentions that it is important to have models for the environmental aspects of the production and recycling of solar cells.
"We boast that solar energy is green energy, but in that context it is also important to bear in mind whether there is an environmental impact in producing them. Where do the materials come from? By whom and how are they produced?"
SDU's new elite centres for climate research
The SDU Climate Cluster has established the first two of five elite centres for climate research. Aquatic Nature Based Solution for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation (ABCs) is established at the Faculty of Science, and Elite Centre on Solar Energy Conversion and Storage (SOLEN) at the Faculty of Engineering. Each centre will be granted up to DKK 10 million for a four-year period. The centres must ensure that interdisciplinary research is carried out at a high international level at each of SDU's five faculties, and that they support SCC's mission to contribute to climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest.
Meet the researchers
Morten Madsen is professor at the University of Southern Denmark, and Head of Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics and Thin-film Energy Devices (SDU CAPE).
You can read more about him here: Curiosity drives nano scientist: Morten became professor at the age of 40
"We have put together the perfect team for this elite centre, where everyone brings unique knowledge and skills. Therefore I would like to mention them all:"
- Professor Brooks Alexandra Kaiser, Department of Sociology, Environmental and Business Economics, Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, firstname.lastname@example.org, Esbjerg
- Professor wsr Kerstin Fischer, Department of Media, Design, Education and Cognition, Faculty of Humanities, email@example.com, Sønderborg/Kolding
- Professor Ulla Gro Nielsen, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy, Faculty of Science, firstname.lastname@example.org, Odense
- Associate professor Steffen Bähring, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Pharmacy, Faculty of Science, email@example.com, Odense
- Professor N. Asger Mortensen, SDU POLIMA, Mads Clausen Institute, Faculty of Engineering, firstname.lastname@example.org, Odense
- Associate professor Vida Engmann, SDU CAPE, Mads Clausen Institute, Faculty of Engineering, email@example.com, Sønderborg
- Associate professor Jacek Fiutowski, SDU NanoSYD, Mads Clausen Institute, Faculty of Engineering, firstname.lastname@example.org, Sønderborg
- Associate professor Jakob Kjelstrup-Hansen, SDU NanoSYD, Mads Clausen Institute, Faculty of Engineering, email@example.com, Sønderborg
- Assistant professor Joel Cox, SDU POLIMA, Mads Clausen Institute, Faculty of Engineering, firstname.lastname@example.org, Odense
- Postdoc Line Jelver, SDU POLIMA, Mads Clausen Institute, Faculty of Engineering, email@example.com, Odense