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April

The Focus-Abengoa Foundation closes the School of Energy and Climate Change

April 24, 2008

  • Students from the UIMP and experts in the energy industry have analysed the energy and environmental challenges over the four days of lectures

Seville, 24th April 2008.- Today, the general manager of the Focus-Abengoa Foundation, Anabel Morillo León, and the dean of the Menéndez Pelayo International University (UIMP) in Seville, Jose Luis Martín Navarro, closed the School of Energy and Climate Change, entitled "Alternative energies: Scope and limitations". During this four-day long forum, students from the UIMP and experts in the energy industry have analysed the present and future energy-environmental challenges facing us.

The course, which was held at the Hospital de los Venerables in Seville, was directed by Louise O. Fresco, professor of agriculture at the University of Amsterdam. In her lecture, Fresco stressed the fact that the current energy imbalance is not a problem of “energy efficiency” but of “lifestyle”. She stated that 18% of the world’s population accounts for 50% of total world energy consumption, an imbalance that must be rectified by changing basic habits. And for this to be possible, Fresco pointed out that “scientists must furnish clear data” to dissipate any doubts: “we must be given the keys to consumers’ actions”.

Of all the different energy alternatives, the former head of research at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) advocated better use of solar energy, “an inexhaustible source, but one that is extremely underused”. In Fresco’s opinion, “the major technological challenge that humanity must rise to is the quest for systems and methods that enable us to make much better use of solar energy”.

She also mentioned the rising controversy on the use of biofuels. The agriculture professor stressed that we can neither generalise nor put up so many negative effects. “It is a problem in which multiple factors exert an influence, ranging from the type of crop, the productivity of the raw materials and the agricultural techniques to speculation, the geopolitical framework and production techniques”.

For his part, Pedro Gómez-Romero, the Spanish National Research Council researcher at the Center of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Research (CIN2), referred to fuel batteries made using hydrogen as “a key piece in the long-term solutions”. Nevertheless, in order to talk about the long term we must foster the use of cleaner energies and promote energy savings. “We neither know nor commit ourselves to finding out how to optimize energy consumption”.

Not very promising prospects

Carlos Sebastián, board member at Abengoa and Abengoa Bioenergy and professor at the Complutense University of Madrid, expressed concern over global warning, just like the other participants. About this problem he stated that “we have reasons to be alarmed”, while also warning that “measures must be taken immediately”, as long as they are global measures.

Sebastián referred to the “poisonous climate” which has been created about biofuels, highlighting “the key role that the new energies play and will continue to play”. After listing and explaining the main attacks being launched against this industry one by one, he stressed that the harm that this tense climate is creating goes far beyond the biofuel industry and extends to developing countries, which are missing out on vast opportunities for growth.

Apart from the “fierce campaign against biofuels, which might put an end to the ethanol industry and the prospects of the biomass”, professor Carlos Sebastián reminded the audience that the worldwide priority should be reducing greenhouse gases, as well as curtailing the energy demand and changing the composition of the supply, although to achieve this “a political cost must be accepted”.

Renewable energies up close

Participants in the school had the chance to visit the Solúcar platform, which Abengoa Solar has built in Sanlúcar la Mayor, Seville. This is a world benchmark facility for renewable energy that will produce 300 megawatts of power, enough energy to supply the consumption of 180,000 homes, as many as there are in the city of Seville. It will also prevent 600,000 tonnes of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere each year.

The Solucar platform will be totally finished in 2013 and will concentrate a variety of technologies with thermal electric tower stations, cylinder parabolic collectors, Stirling disks and high and low concentration photovoltaic power.

Other participants in this new edition of the School of Energy and Climate Change, coordinated by José María O’Kean Alonso and Antonio Villar Notario, both professors at the University Pablo de Olavide in Seville, included Rolf Linkohr, chair of the Center for European Energy Strategy; Isabel de Haro Aramberri, director of the Andalusian Energy Agency; Juan Delgado from the Breugel international economics think tank; and Juan Antonio Rubio, managing director of the Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT), among others.

The newly-opened School of Energy and Climate Change, previously called the School of Technology, is part of the Focus-Abengoa Forum on Energy and Climate Change, the purpose of which is to promote, through public debate programs, an open forum for research, presentation, and confrontation of ideas and results in connection with renewable energies and aspects related to climate change.

Climate change and the unceasing demand for energy are forcing all countries to revise their development strategies. The objective of this course is to serve as the optimum framework for analyzing, studying, evaluating, and presenting opinions on this challenge from the political-institutional and scientific-technical perspectivas.

As the result of a collaboration agreement between the Focus-Abengoa Foundation and the Menéndez Pelayo International University (UIMP), the School of Energy and Climate Change has been created with the main goal of offering an institutional and scientific perspective of the first order, in regard to the role that different technologies and policies can play in the future of energy at the regional, national, and international levels.

The participants in this new edition of the School were also able to enjoy the exhibit "Saint Rufina. Velázquez: From devotional works to court scenes", which consists of several works by the Sevillian painter, which occupies the main exhibit space at the Focus-Abengoa offices. The painting Saint Rufina, which the Foundation purchased in July 2007, is displayed along with three important oil paintings, also by Velázquez: "Saint Ildefonso Receiving the Chasuble from the Virgin, A Sibyl and The Infanta Maria of Austria, Queen of Hungary".

The Focus-Abengoa Foundation was created in 1982 as the outcome of the cultural efforts begun by Abengoa back in 1972 with its publication of Sevillian Topics and Iconography of Seville. During this same period, a collection of documents, books and engravings on the Kingdom of Seville and Sevillian authors was also amassed. This initial cultural impetus led Abengoa’s leaders to realise the importance of going beyond the company’s merely technological functions with activities that would benefit society. Thus, the Fondo de Cultura de Sevilla Foundation was born.



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