LPRC presents its work during INTERMIN’s Final Conference

The INTERMIN project held its Final Conference on the 22nd of June 2021. The project, set to finish this June, worked on the creation of a network of raw materials training centres.

The final meeting had three main components: 1) presentations of the work done in each Work Package, 2) presentations by project representatives of INTERMIN related EU H2020 funded raw materials projects, 3) a stakeholders’ debate and 4) a discussion on the vision of the future of education and skills in the raw materials sector.

LPRC was a major player of this Final Conference at two moments: first, Luís Lopes presented LPRC’s work done on Work Package 2, in which Skills and competences gaps for the current and future of the raw materials sector were identified.

Luís Lopes (LPRC) presented the results on the skills and competences gaps for the raw materials sector (WP2).

Later, Márcio Tameirão presented the MOBI-US project, which has a clear connection with INTERMIN by using the latter’s skills and competences needs analysis to create MOBI-US mobility pathways according to the demand from the sector. The main objective of MOBI-US project is to set up a structured mobility network between raw materials-related higher education programs in four ESEE institutions (East & South-East Europe), and INTERMIN was an important input in this process, mainly for the role of LPRC in MOBI-US – Mentoring (WP4). Márcio also took part in the stakeholders’ debate, defending the MOBI-US perspective.

Márcio Tameirão (LPRC) presented the MOBI-US project, which has common points with INTERMIN.

Finally, the presentations made by African, North and South American and Asian representatives of the raw materials value chain showed how the skills and gaps in those areas of the globe are evolving.

The next steps include the adminstrative and technical wrap-up of INTERMIN which will take place during the summer, up to the moment of the project’s final review, to be held later in September.

LPRC contributes to the MOBI-US Training event – Part 1

The MOBI-US project has reached one more important milestone on the 18th of June 2021: the successful conclusion of MOBI-US Training event, Part 1. The objective of this online meeting was to gather representatives of other faculties and universities that offer raw materials-related higher education programs – from the ESEE region – to present some of MOBI-US’ results. The talks also mentioned the lessons learned, best-practices, and the guidelines that the consortium elaborated for an effective implementation of student mobilities. The main idea is to support and foster the development of more mobility programs and projects in the region, which will strengthen the higher education in this sector.

The MOBI-US training banner.

One of the speakers of the event was LPRC’s Luís Lopes who provided a presentation on “Competence criteria for raw materials programs, lessons from the INTERMIN project”. The talk covered the important role of education due to the uptake of new technologies, methods and tools that are used in the raw materials value chain, in order to build a stronger workforce that is adapted to the current and future market needs in the sector. In addition, he provided the main conclusions from the foresight analysis that LPRC conducted during the INTERMIN Project, presenting the skills and competences gaps in the mining sector.

Luís Lopes presenting the results of the foresight analysis of skills and competences gaps for the raw materials sector.

A total of 54 attendees had the opportunity to learn and interact with the presenters from MOBI-US consortium, as well as the guest speakers. The talks generated interest and engagement with the audience, which are crucial for the uptake of further cooperation between institutions and – consequently – the development of more mobility opportunities.

LPRC participates at the GEOENVI-CROWDTHERMAL joint webinar – part 2

The recommendations coming from GEOENVI (see part 1) directly echoe the CROWDTHERMAL project’s vision for social acceptance on geothermal projects. CROWDTHERMAL identified 4 factors of public acceptance:

  1. Self-efficacy: Energy transition means the change of infrastructures and daily life environments. It is important to experience one’s own impact and influence within this transformation process.
  2. Identity: The more people can identify emotionnally with a measure, the greater their willingness to accept it. This means that infrastructure measures must also be recognised emotionally as elements of one’s own living environment. This is more likely to happen with more local stakeholders involed (regulators, SME and local communities).
  3. Orientation and insight: If people understand the necessity of a political decision and support the goals and means envisaged by this decision, they are more likely to accept it. Therefore, transparent information is needed about what they will face. Crucial elements are transparency about pros and cons and potential alternatives.
  4. Positive risk-benefit balance: Acceptance is more likely the more the planned consequences of a decision benefits oneself or related groups. This includes the perception of low or at least acceptables risks. In this context, the risk assessments of experts and those of laypersons are often not congruents.

Finally, with regard to financing of geothermal projects, CROWDTHERMAL confirmed that community funding can play an important role to initiate and support geothermal projects by raising additional funds. Especially in the early project development phases, alternative finance methods can enable more geothermal projects to be brought to life. Community funding can also achieve public engagement and increase acceptance. In the light of the massive investments needed, especially for deep geothermal power projects, community funding is yet not considered to be functional entirely on its own, but rather in combination with other (conventional) forms of finance.

Community funding can play an important role to initiate and support geothermal projects.

The most suitable alternative finance method very much depends on the individual project characteristics and context. At the early project development stages, especially crowdfunding (shares/equity or reward-based) can be attractive options to achieve community co-ownership and to enhance project support. The high resource-related risk in the early phases leads to high return expectation of investors. Community funding is generally less risky in the construction and operation phases, but the potential returns at these stages are also less attractive.

Understanding and developing a project in a holistic way, taking into consideration technical, financial, and social dimensions as well as their interdependency is an important risk mitigation measure for project developers. It reduces the risk of interface problems and increases the chances for a Social License to Operate as well as for technical and economic success.

Further readings:

GEOENVI Recommendations for the harmonisation of geothermal environmental regulations in the EU: https://www.geoenvi.eu/publications/recommendations-for-european-harmonisation-of-geothermal-environmental-regulations-in-the-eu/

CROWDTHERMAL guidelines for Public acceptance: https://www.crowdthermalproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/CROWDTHERMAL-D1.4.pdf

CROWTHERMAL community for renewable energy best practices in Europe: https://www.crowdthermalproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/CROWDTHERMAL-D2.1-new-version.pdf

LPRC participates at the GEOENVI-CROWDTHERMAL joint webinar – part 1

On Tuesday 16 March, GEOENVI and the CROWDTHERMAL project, where LPRC leads one work package, hosted a joint online event titled: “Targeting acceptability and co-ownership for deep geothermal projects”. In this event, an expert panel discussed recommendations and ways forward for public engagement for deep geothermal, based on good practices on crowdfunding from the CROWDTHERMAL project and gave some academic perspectives on the subject.

Mission statement of both projects:

The objective of the GEOENVI project is to answer environmental concerns in terms of both impacts and risks, by first setting an adapted methodology for assessing environment impacts to the project developers, and by assessing the environmental impacts and risks of geothermal projects operational or in development in Europe.

The webinar (part 1):

Both EU projects tackle the question of public engagement with different hypothesis, so this webinar was an opportunity to gain a better overall understanding of public engagement based on two different scopes and methodologies.

The first part of the webinar was focused on the research output of the GEOENVI project. GEOENVI argues that further development of geothermal projects will boil down to creating an energy community and better communication on the side of developers. The combination of these two aspects is believed to have the potential to raise social acceptance of geothermal projects.

Building an energy community is the action of involving local stakeholders (regulators, local industries, SMEs and individual citizens) in the production of sustainable heat and/or electricity. The aim is to ensure that energy production can provide opportunities to local businesses (see similar conclusion from the Trends in geothermal webinar) as well as energy for local households. The figure below showcases some of the inititation that may be undertaken by project developpers and regulatory authorities to insert energy project in a community to the benefits of a variety of economic activities.

1Initiatives to promote the sustainable development of geothermal areas.

With regards to dissemination and communcation of project activities, GEOENVI discovered that there is a gap between how project developpers think they communicate and how the public feels it is informed. On the following figure,  it is appararent that the public generally feels poorly informed. This misunderstanding in communication draws a wedge between a project and its surrounding community. In Alsace, this wedge resulted in tension between local communities and geothermal development in spite of the geothermal potential of the area and the positive economical impact of competititive green energy on its surrounding market. The problematic is particularly interresting when we consider that misinformation leading to mlistrust of a technology is also visible in other sector (wind turbines, electric cars and more recently vaccines).

Participation in public inquiries held in Alsace 2015/2016.

Based on these two problematics, GEOENVI will provide policy recommendation for the European Union in hope that it could turn the tie of geothermal development in the continent, thus meeting climate goals whilst ensuring social gains at local level.

GEOENVI calls for European standards on information sharing by setting up minimum qualitative requirements for information sharing on energy projects. This will not only ensure better trust into new green technologies but also enables project developpers to draw conclusions from other projects that have similar minimal communication requirements:

  • Choose and collect the relevant information enabling project developpers and researchers alike to confidentially collect environmental concerns and posititve impact to compare any project with other Renewable Energy Sources (RES);
  • Adapt the communication target: distinguish ‘public’ from ‘experts’ in the communication strategy so that anyone can understand the purpose and methodlogy of an energy project in his/her/their own words;
  • Improve data accessibility and awareness of accessible information: FAIR data principle , independent appeal commintee for confidentiality issues;
  • Share reliable information: All project developpers shall ensure a pro-active data sharing strategy to inform the public in the name, of transparency and trust building.

This article continues on part 2.

ROBOMINERS project Review Meeting

On 29 January 2021, the ROBOMINERS project had its first review meeting with the EC. Our team was present as leaders of Work Package 8 to assess and discuss the main outcomes.

The review meeting, which lasted the whole Friday, was built around presentations of the work done since the beginning of the project until now. Each Work Package leader presented the results and engaged in fruitful discussions with the EC to clarify doubts and employ recommendations for improvement. As a Work Package leader, LPRC (Luís Lopes) made the presentation on Work Package 8 – Active roadmapping and clusters. Luís gave an overview of the clustering activities developed and implemented up to now, as well as the Focus Groups and Horizon Scanning exercises with experts. The presentation of the work was well received and no major doubts or recommendations were put forward.

Work Package 8 presentation (Luís Lopes)

The efforts of clustering and roadmapping will continue in the next months with a series of engaging activities!

LPRC participation at the MOBI-US Industry Workshop!

The Industry Workshop concludes MOBI-US’ events in 2020. The workshop gathered partners of the consortium, academic stakeholders, and industry players of the ESEE region (East & South-East Europe), to talk about what has been achieved within MOBI-US during the first project year. LPRC was the partner responsible for the elaboration of part of the Guidelines and for the dissemination and communication of project’s activities.

The main objective of the Industry Workshop was to invite members of the raw materials industry to learn about MOBI-US’ overall progress and the structured mobilities that had been developed by the partner institutions. Afterwards, these industrial representatives could provide their impressions and feedback, which will help MOBI-US to achieve its main goal: adding value to the existing MSc programs and to produce a well prepared workforce for the raw materials sector in the region.

The event was divided in two sessions. The morning session was dedicated to the consortium partners, in which the leaders of the MSc programs presented the mobility pathways that have been arranged with the other universities. This part of the meeting was a preparation for the following session, which was dedicated to presenting the project’s achievements to the representatives of the raw materials industry.

The MOBI-IS Industry Workshop attendees.

The afternoon session was dedicated to presenting the project’s achievements to the representatives of the raw materials industry of the ESEE region. The session started with welcome words and an introduction of MOBI-US by the Project Coordinator Ferenc Mádai – University of Miskolc. After that, the guideline materials were presented by the Mentoring partners of the project. In this opportunity, Luís Lopes – representing LPRC – introduced the document on “Skills, competence gaps and needs of the raw materials sector”, which is a result of the work done in the INTERMIN project. This document is currently being applied in MOBI-US as well, to support the effective development and implementation of the structured mobility network.

Luís Lopes presented the “Skills, competence gaps and needs of the raw materials sector” during the Industry Workshop.

The following sections consisted of a summarized presentation of the mobility programs that were drafted, as well as an open talk with the industry members to discuss what was presented and to collect their suggestions and input. The discussion covered relevant topics that will help MOBI-US to achieve its goals and expected impacts towards the raw materials education in the ESEE region.

The event counted with 35 participants in total.

LPRC presenting UNEXUP to Instituto Superior Técnico – TÉCNICO LISBOA

Last week, on 25 November 2020, the UNEXUP and UNEXMIN projects were presented in an online lecture for the Instituto Superior Técnico – TÉCNICO LISBOA. Luís Lopes and Márcio Tameirão introduced these ambitious projects to an audience of students of the Mine and Geological Engineering degree, who could learn more about the innovative robot-based technology that was developed in UNEXMIN, and under further development within UNEXUP.

The presentation was made by Portuguese speakers of the LPRC team. Luís Lopes presented the UNEXMIN project (2016-2019), predecessor of UNEXUP, and Márcio Tameirão presented the ongoing UNEXUP project (2020-2022). In this opportunity, students and professors of TÉCNICO LISBOA had the unique chance to understand the background of the projects, as well as the advancements in the robotic technology, field trials, and main achievements. The new objectives and scope of UNEXUP were also presented, as well as the envisaged developments in the UX robots. Pictures of the robot and the test sites, as well as short videos of the pilot tests were also shown in this part of the presentation.

LPRC team members Luís Lopes and Márcio Tameirão presented the UNEXMIN and UNEXUP projects to young geoscientists of IST.

The whole presentation ended with the UNEXMIN documentary movie, which can be watched on the UNEXUP YouTube Channel.

The presentation had 12 attendees, who, together with the professors, asked questions about the robotic technology and its new instruments, as well as the future applications of it and how the exploration service will be commercialized to the target markets.

LPRC would like to thank the opportunity to present these projects to a younger audience that might change the raw materials world of tomorrow.

Today is “MacaroNight” day!

On this 27 November 2020, all around Europe the European Researchers’ Night is celebrated. It is a series of public events that bring researchers and their activities to the public. It is the perfect place, once a year, to showcase the many research activities developed for the sake of science and their impact on our everyday lives. These events also aim to raise awareness and interest in research careers.

Macaronesia area, where the MacaroNight events take place.

The MacaroNight project, led by LPRC, is a Macaronesian focused project that exists to demonstrate the Macaronesian research on this day. Following its implementation during the European Researchers’ Night in 2019, MacaroNight will also contribute to this important event this year.

Today, the MacaroNight team will support the demonstration of research activities and knowledge sharing of the Macaronesia with the European public!

Learn more on https://macaronight.eu/en_gb/ and on the project’s social channels Facebook , Twitter and Instagram.

LPRC at the “Geothermal energy in my backyard: tackling energy poverty with renewables” webinar

On June 25, took place the “Geothermal energy in my backyard: tackling energy poverty with renewables” webinar hosted by EGEC. This event tackled several issues that are particularly relevant in today’s climate.

Marion Malafosse (Policy Officer at the European Commission Directorate-General for Energy) discussed finance options laid down under the European Recovery Package, which makes available budget to advance the green and digital transition. This Package specifically reemphasizes the role of the EU Green Deal as a motor for the EU economy. In the context of carbon neutrality, heating and cooling it is expected to play a crucial role. First to decarbonise society, second to reach the industrial sector which remain to this day untouched by the green wave and third, by getting local communities involved in small scale geothermal heating projects to further increase the share of green energy in Europe.

The overarching goal of the European Commission is to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. It will soon publish its EU strategy on energy system integration. This strategy is a roadmap to assess what is necessary in the energy sector in the medium and longer term. It will not only tackle electricity and cooling, but also transport, digitalization and agriculture. The aim is to assess how these pieces will play together to reach climate neutrality. This strategy will translate into policies and calls for proposals which will greatly expand the array of opportunities in green development both for citizens and companies.

The second strategy is the Renovation Wave tackling energy efficiency for buildings. A big proportion of buildings in the EU are energy inefficient. Finding strategies to change this can lower CO2 emissions, in line with EU climate objectives. In addition to call for energy efficiency development, another likely impact of this wave is to boost local jobs and local enterprises dealing with construction.

Regarding energy poverty, the webinar showcased 3 case studies, highlighting the role geothermal energy can play for local communities. Geothermal energy is not only domestic, it is local. As such, all operations related to production, operation and consumption are made at local level, benefiting local communities by reducing costs. In addition, geothermal energy is strongly developing and new technologies open the door to hybrid technologies, complex financial solutions (prosumers) and enabling cooperation with social programmes to include all citizens.

LPRC participates in the GeoConnect³d event

On the 24 June, the European Federation of Geologists hosted the “GeoConnect³d – Framing geothermal resource management” online event. The GeoConnect³d project develops and tests a new methodological approach to prepare and disclose geological information for policy support and subsurface management. The improved approach uses two regional-level case studies – the Roer-to-Rhine region and the Pannonian Basin. These regional, cross-border case studies are chosen to be complementary and sufficiently different in geological setting and degree of implementation of subsurface exploitation and management, in order to maximize their pan-European relevance. A novel bottom-up approach introduces two concepts that increase the geological understanding of an area and are aimed at providing a coherent geological context for evaluating subsurface applications and resolving subsurface management issues.

On top of the project presentation, the main discussion was on Wallonia’s (a region in Belgium) geothermal energy potential. The project discovered tangible opportunities for geothermal development on the Mons-Chaudfontaine axis. This potential is believed to be due to the particular geological setting of the Dinantian limestones. From an operational perspective, this would translate to low to medium enthalpy plants with the added benefit of being close to local communities with high demand in heating.

Based on these promising results, further investigations will be conducted and will need to go further in the central and eastern parts of Wallonia to fully discover the promising horizons and characterize them (depth, thickness, temperature and permeability).