New Education and Research Program at the Comillas Pontifical University to analyze the challenges of decarbonizing industry28.10.2020
Decarbonization of the economy in general and specifically of industry will require great changes in the coming years that will open up huge opportunities for the economy and society. In this context, the Repsol Foundation and the Comillas Pontifical University, through the Technical Engineering School (Comillas ICAI), have just started up an Energy Transition Education and Research Program “to study the consequences and challenges of decarbonizing industry, using carbon footprint and life cycle analysis as tools”, according to José Ignacio Linares, industrial engineer, professor of Thermal Machines and Engines and lecturer of Thermodynamics and Energy Engineering at Comillas ICAI, and director of the new program.
The signing of the agreement took place between Julio L. Martínez, SJ, rector at the Comillas Pontifical University, and António Calçada, vice chairman of the Repsol Foundation, who were also accompanied by representatives from both entities.
The Energy Transition Education and Research Program at Comillas ICAI was born from both an interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary spirit, as it was formed by a group of professors and researchers with renowned experience in the Area of Regulation in Energy Systems and in the Thermal and Fluids Area at the Institute of Technological Research (IIT, in Spanish) at the university, along with the Rafael Mariño New Energy Technologies Education and Research Program at Comillas ICAI, and the Environmental Rights, Public Health, and Sustainable Development research group at Comillas ICADE.
The objective of this initiative is to analyze opportunities for the decarbonization of the industrial sector “because the decarbonization strategy in Spain must be based on its industry”, according to Linares. In this way, “decarbonization plans must be a driving force in technological development and industrial innovation, which are fundamental in the current context of economic recovery and the evolution toward sectors with greater added value”, he added.
The industry's decarbonization process presents various challenges that must be addressed in terms of technological, economic, and social aspects. “The program will base its actions on the principle of technological neutrality, considering all possible technical solutions, with the understanding that they are all complementary. With the proper incentives, they could contribute, without a doubt, to accelerating the transition toward decarbonization by strengthening the Spanish industrial network and thus contributing to economic recovery in Spain after the COVID-19 recession”, explained the director.
To reach these objectives, the Repsol Foundation-Comillas Energy Transition Education and Research Program, will kick start an observatory in order to track new technologies that can be applied to industry decarbonization, both at a national and international level. It will evaluate the carbon footprint generated in various energy sectors and will study the proposed solutions from a financial point of view by analyzing their economic, legal, and ethical impacts.
Additionally, the periodic results from the program — which will include students and encourage research and participation through "hackathons" that find solutions to these challenges — will be reported in different meetings and conferences with experts in the field.
Repsol Foundation Education and Research Program in a network of universities
With the aim of transferring the relevance and impact of the energy transition to society and encouraging, with the help of science, knowledge, and analysis, rigorous debate on the matter, the Repsol Foundation is driving the creation of an Energy Transition Education and Research Program within a network of universities, with each focused on a specific topic.
The first of these programs was developed in collaboration with the University of Barcelona, under the direction of Mariano Marzo, professor of Stratigraphy and lecturer of Energy Resources and Oil Geology. It is focused on carbon capture, use, and storage systems. This year, several workshops were organized around natural climate solutions. After the program's first year, results from their observatory were recently presented.
Likewise, a new agreement was just signed with the School of Industrial Engineering at the Polytechnic University of Madrid (ETSII-UPM), creating an education and research program centered on two lines of action: improving air quality and improving mobility's carbon footprint, led by Óscar García, director at ETSII-UPM.
In another area of work and in order to promote knowledge surrounding impact investment in Spain, the Repsol Foundation has also created a Social Impact Education and Research Program with the Comillas Pontifical University in collaboration with the Open Value Foundation and Management Solutions. This initiative, which provides opportunities for debate and reflection with experts in the field, promotes research and innovation in the impact investment, business philanthropy, and measurement of this impact.
At Comillas, the implementation of this program entails the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the transition toward industry decarbonization taking into account not only technological aspects but also economic, social, and legal implications from a technologically neutral point of view. It aims to support sustainability in the Spanish industrial network by taking advantage of opportunities provided by the energy transition and addressing challenges with viable and sustainable solutions.
This new Energy Transition Education and Research Program is being added to the list of other long-running programs in Comillas ICAI related to energy, sustainability, and industry. Thanks to this new program, the university can continue its work on matters related to energy that it has been carrying out for years and which has made it an international reference in the material.