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Research Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society | IREES Research

PhD projects

Adaptive logistics in circular economy | Dieu Linh Hoang

Within a Circular Economy, three interdependent cyclic systems emerge around: biological nutrients, technical nutrients, energy capture. Biomass plays a pivotal role as biological nutrient and as nutrient for biogas. Biogas is currently not economically viable in the Netherlands without subsidies. This state of affairs is related to logistics costs. Transport of biomass, of biogas and of digestate is too expensive to warrant a viable circular economy around biogas. The project will focus on achieving economic viability by new technologies and by new organizational forms >>> read more.

Aligning technological, economic and governmental factors in regional energy transition processes | Aamina Teladia

Despite the serious efforts of many governments and other social actors to accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy system there are difficulties that arise in energy transformation. There are barriers related to governance failures, such as old-fashioned legislation and tariff structures, coordination problems between regional and national governments, and insufficient involvement of local stakeholders >>> read more.

Analysis of the implementation and implications of the introduction of state-of-the-art sustainability criteria for biobased products | Nidia Ramirez Contreras

Given the constant growth of the world, it is needed to contribute to the reduction of environmental pollution caused by oil derivatives; this has generated interest in the use of alternative raw materials (bio-based materials) which contribute to sustainability, covering not only environmental issues, but it also allows to focus on social and economic components to satisfy all point of view of the sustainability of a product >>> read more.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) capture, transport and storage (CCTS), infra-structure, and options of enhanced oil and gas recovery (EOR)/(EGR) for the benefit of the Mozambique region | Felix Paipe

The use of energy in the different activities, such as oil and gas sectors, steel, cement, aluminium smelter, coal mining, power plants, manufacturing, chemical industries, and others, usually cause carbon dioxide (CO2) emission that contributes to the global warming. Global warming damages biodiversity, ecosystems and eventually existing human food systems. By using carbon dioxide capture, transport and storage (CCTS) technology we can significantly reduce emissions from those activities >>> read more.

City-Level Carbon Emission for European Cities: Accounting Methodology and Applications | Yuru Guan

Cities are central to climate change mitigation. City-level carbon emissions vary significantly due to differences in resource endowments, energy mix, technologies, and economic structures, and inter-regional trade. Carbon emissions accounting is considered as a fundamental step for analyzing carbon emission characteristics, identifying key emission paths, formulating emission reduction policies, promoting economic transformation and mitigating climate change >>> read more.

Complex networks and the Maximum Entropy Production Principle | Noam Abadi

Thermodynamics introduced the concept of entropy as a way to quantify how much energy in a system could be transformed into work. This led to the formulation of the second law of thermodynamics which, ultimately, gives a sense of direction in which macroscopic processes occur. The concept was then broadened by the statistical version of thermodynamics – statistical mechanics – in which entropy represents the direction in which things are likeliest to occur. Then it was even further generalized by information theory, in which entropy provides a formalism for making the best guess on a system by quantifying the amount of missing information >>> read more.

Decentralized energy infrastructure in the context of long-term energy transition | Gideon Laugs

Driven by the double bind of declining fossil fuel reserves and concern over emissions thereof, the worldwide energy system is facing a transition towards a more sustainable energy supply. The many unknown techno-economical and socio-political variables in that transition are the cause of great uncertainty with regard to the spectrum of possible energy futures. This uncertainty increases the more long-term a time horizon is considered, and extends from micro to macro-level geospatial scales >>> read more.

Effect evaluation and path optimization of international trade on sustainable development | Jiayu Wang

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development announced 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 targets. The goals and targets will stimulate action over the next 15 years in areas of economy, society, and environment. Although some countries or sectors may show trends towards compliance with SDGs, the impacts of this trend are diverse, taking into account the trade-offs of SDGs, and the complex international trade relations, as well as the interdependence sectoral relations >>> read more.

Energy input and carbon footprint to supply water for major crops in Pakistan | Abdul Wahab Siyal

For increasing populations, decreasing agricultural land, expanding stress on water and energy resources, and climate unpredictability, south Asia faces the challenges about how to produce more food with the same or less land and water, and increased energy prices, while preserving resources and maintaining environmental sustainability. Water and energy are the two major issues currently faced by irrigated agriculture in Pakistan >>> read more.

EPOS: An Environmental Product Optimisation Strategy | Reino Veenstra

Optimising products’ impact on nature requires an interdisciplinary and integral approach. It requires weighing incomparable and incompatible environmental impact effects to a vast complex of product related causes. It requires thinking in product systems in order to look for possibilities to decrease the product bound environmental impact beyond the focal tangible artefact. It also requires balancing the interests of nature, people, and companies. But most challenging of all, is that it requires foreseeing the entanglement of all these facets for an as yet unexciting product. The environmental product optimisation strategy, EPOS, is developed for just that >>> read more.

ESTRAC: Integrated Energy System Analysis | Amirhossein Fattahi

GHG emission reduction ambitions of 80-95% in 2050 will require a large transformation of the energy system, with a huge increase in energy sources such as, for example, wind, sun, nuclear and CCS which are largely or fully CO2-free. While it is as yet unknown what part the different technologies will have in the transition path up to 2050 and beyond, it is to be expected that variable and uncertain energy sources such as wind and sun will have a considerable share in electricity generation >>> read more.

Evaluating global food systems sustainability from a perspective of agricultural trade | Junjie Yi

Since the beginning of the 21st century, agricultural trade has become a vital regulatory measure to cope with global food security, climate change and scarcity of water and land resources. Behind the international trade, the global food systems are separately studied and managed. To reveal the integration between the agricultural products, the natural resources and environment, to provide a systematic and comprehensive strategy for the sustainable development of global food systems from the view of agricultural trade, this research will study the impact of increasing dairy products consumption on the local and global nitrogen cycles and on land and water use. The research is divided into four different parts: fertilizer, soybean, milk and finally global food systems >>> read more.

Exploring the relationship between the neighborhood-level urban form and energy metabolism | Miaohan Tang

Along with the rapid urbanization over the past few decades, urban areas have evolved as centers of population living. However, human-driven activities have been subjected to severe metabolic pressure and evoked dramatically irreversible environmental degradation. Understanding the effects of urban form is necessary to improve energy performance because such understanding helps urban planners make appropriate decisions on physical forms that affect urban energy consumption >>> read more.

From natural gas to sustainable heat: integrated scenarios for the energy transition in the built environment | Kathelijne Bouw

To realize the transition to a sustainable energy supply, the consumption of natural gas will have to decrease drastically in the coming years. In particular, the heat supply in the built environment is highly dependent on natural gas. This dependency has led to lock-in of the system, which makes it difficult for sustainable alternatives to enter the market >>> read more.

IESA-ESTRAC (Integrated Energy System Analysis within the Energy System Transition Center) | Manuel Sanchez Dieguez

It is well known that anthropogenic GHG emissions are threatening earth system’s stability. It is also a well-known fact that renewable energy sources are the alternative that could enable us to decarbonize our economic activities without compromising human welfare. However, most of the subsidies and efforts, at a EU level at least, have been occurring around solar and wind sourced electricity >>> read more.

Implementing spatial intelligence that provides Delta regions access to ecosystem services | Weier Liu

Deltas support enormous flows of materials and energy though its intricate biophysical processes, which makes them among the most important ecosystems to provide a vast range of ecosystem services (ESs) including supporting services of biodiversity and land formation, provisioning services of biomass, fresh water and energy resources, regulating services of climate change mitigation and water purification, and cultural services of aesthetics, education and tourism >>> read more.

Modelling and analysing the Colombian energy system to obtain short, medium and longer term scenario’s for Bio-based Economy for the national energy demand, supply mix and GHG mitigation potential | Ahmed Younis

Bioenergy has for years been considered an important mitigation option for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, a key alternative for oil and an important opportunity to provide income and economic activity to rural regions, especially in developing countries. This has not fundamentally changed, but the recent debate has shown how complex the development of bio-based options and infrastructure is when possible key conflicts are to be avoided and the various expected benefits to be achieved >>> read more.

Modelling the Whole North Sea Energy System |Rafael Martínez Gordón

This Ph.D. project is part of a Marie Curie Training Network called ‘’ENSYSTRA (Energy Systems in Transition)’’. The overall network, with 6 universities around the North Sea region, will put together a study of key energy technologies and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation options in the North Sea region in terms of (techno-economic and sustainable) potentials, system integration modelling (of the electricity system and the energy system at large), and spatial aspects at different spatial scales (from the European to the regional energy system and their respective interactions) >>> read more.

Multi-scale material consumption accounts and resource sustainable development in China from a perspective of metabolism | Yanxian Li

Global consumption of natural resources including biomass, fossil fuels and minerals (excluding water and land) has reached more than 90 Gt in 2017 predicted by UNEP to double by 2050 given current trends. With the continuous growth of the global population and the global economy, the global community will face severe resource shortages, and achieving resource sustainability is one of the Sustainable Development Goals >>> read more.

Offshore Advanced Renewable Energy Technologies, Learning Curves and Roadmaps | Srinivasan Santhakumar

This Ph.D. project is a part of the Marie Curie Training Network called ENSYSTRA – Energy System in Transition ( ), and the project will be carried out with strong support from ENSYSTRA network. This network and the combination of its expertise, tools and data will provide a diverse and rich learning environment for a pool of Ph.D. researchers, who will be trained in a programme with ample possibilities to collaborate between the different projects and partners involved >>> read more.

Optimization of micro grids with renewable energy electricity generators | Emilia Come Zebra

In developing countries, most of the population living in remote areas rely on three-stone fires based on traditional biomass (wood and charcoal) for cooking and the lighting is provided by candles or kerosene lamps which are considering high pollutants due to the smoke, therefore access to electricity has been identified as a crucial factor to improve the life conditions >>> read more.

Quality induced water scarcity and its reginal inequality in China | Dan Wang

Water is essential to sustain life, development and the environment. However, around 80% of the global population is currently threatened by water scarcity, which is mainly caused by water pollution. UNEP estimates that two out of every three people will live in water scarce areas by 2025, and at that time, one out of four people is likely to live in countries affected by severe freshwater shortages >>> read more.

Reconstruction and Mapping of Fossil Carbon flows as feedstock for Global Production Network | Kaan Hidiroglu

With debates surrounding the ongoing energy transition, many different aspects of fossil-fuel use is being researched. Besides all the efforts to mitigate the use of fossil-carbon resources for energy generation purposes, the utilization of such sources for non-energy generation purposes still hold a prominent share. It was estimated by BP Energy Outlook in 2017 that non-energy use of fossil-carbons would be the largest source of fossil fuel demand growth by 2035 >>> read more.

Robust integrated energy infrastructure planning | Sybren Couwenberg

Due to climate change we will have to transition away from fossil based energy towards renewable energy. Flexibility and energy storage will be necessary due to the intermittency of renewables like solar and wind. These and other factors make the it very uncertain how the energy mix will look like in the future. Energy markets will not be exclusively to one energy carrier anymore. This has large implications for the planning of electricity and gas infrastructure. The deep uncertainty about the future energy mix makes it difficult to determine what infrastructure is necessary to facilitate energy demand. Furthermore, planning and building new infrastructure generally has long lead times and requires large investments. It is thus important to make predictions about the future energy mix and what energy infrastructure is necessary to facilitate demand >>> read more.

Shaping Energy Storage Development in the Dutch Electricity Market | Ahmad Mir Mohammadi Kooshknow

According to the Energy Agenda , the Netherlands is seeking for low-carbon energy supply, and 40% and 80-95% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030 and 2050, respectively. These targets necessitate considerable share of renewable sources in the Dutch energy mix in the coming years. Because of variable nature of electricity generation from some renewable resources such as wind and solar, more flexibility will be required in the electricity system to deal with potential time-mismatches between generation and consumption >>> read more.

Sustainable development potentials and pathways for biobased economy options in Brazil | Tjerk Lap

Within the next decades the world will face major threats like global warming, environmental pollution and resource depletion. Human reliance on fossil resources is seen as one of the major contributors to this global change. To ensure a sustainable future we should shift away from a fossil-based society towards a sustainable society. One of the potential solutions for the transition to a sustainable society is the so-called ‘biobased economy’ (BBE). The BBE is an economy fueled by plant-based feedstock to produce chemicals, materials and energy instead of fossil based resources >>> read more.

Techno-economic prospects and life cycle assessment of biobased industrial processes with CCS (CO2 and storage) | Fan Yang

According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, stabilizing the global temperature rise at 2°C implies a massive reduction of green house gas (GHG) emissions. The abundant use of fossil fuels has become a cause of concern due to their adverse effects on the environment, particularly related to the emission of CO2 , a major anthropogenic GHG. Industrial activities emissions were 14.5Gt CO2, account for 30% of the total global anthropogenic emissions of CO2 >>> read more.

The feasibility of a Paris-proof European power system | Rebeka Béres

In order to mitigate climate change, Europe has investigated decarbonisation strategies for the most carbon intensive sectors. In 2020, the European commission has set the ambitious target of cutting emissions by 55%, compared to 1990 levels. This would be the first step to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Energy related industries are responsible for 29% of all European greenhouse gas emissions Consequently, decarbonisation of the European power sector is an essential component in the fight against climate change. We have 30 years to reach zero or even negative emissions. However, these 30 years will bring significant emissions during the energy transition. Moreover, deployment of low carbon energy technologies will inherently involve significant emissions, due to the production, installation and infrastructural changes required. Therefore, an uncoordinated energy transition could result in exceeding the 1.5C° temperature increase limit set by the Paris Agreement >>> read more.

To construct a bio-based evaluation system: The sustainability influence of the biomass development and utilization in Loess Plateau | Yanmei Liu

Biomass as a source for renewable for low carbon energy carriers and materials is one of the key mitigation options to curb global CO2 emissions. However, the production of large amounts of sustainable biomass is a challenge due to large land and water requirements amongst others. Large scale land use change can furthermore impact biodiversity, rural economies, soils etc. Impacts can both be positive and negative, depending strongly on land use strategies, crop – land combinations and sustainability requirements >>> read more.

Trading partners, commodity structure, and environmental pollution | Chao Zhong

With the intensification of global pollution and the differences in economic, technological, and policy, the environment has had an unprecedented impact on the entire international economy and trade. China, as the largest trading nation, has long been exporting high-energy and resource-intensive products for other countries, while high environmental costs hidden behind such ultra-rapid international trade. The amount of this kind of hidden pollution is increasing with the blind expansion of China's trade scale, unreasonable trade structure and trade distribution, and China's domestic environmental pressure will be growing >>> read more.

Unequal health risks of air pollution among different income groups in China | Ruoqi Li

As socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, the principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved. Promoting the social equity now becomes a significant political task in China. Equity is of rich connotation in the field of environment. My project will mainly focus on the equity among different populations >>> read more.

Previous PhD projects

A modeling approach to the energy transition inside the Energy, Water, Food Nexus | Santiago David Vaca Jimenez

Together, population growth, urbanization and climate change, represent an important challenge for human development. The first two will affect the demand on scarce resources as water, energy and food. The latter will likely affect the availability of those resources >>> read more.

Community Innovation for Sustainable Energy. Aligning technological and societal innovations | Esther van der Waal

My PhD project is part of the MVI project ‘Community Innovation for Sustainable Energy. Aligning technological and societal innovations’ that is funded by NWO. Besides Groningen University, also the TU Twente, the Hanzehogeschool Groningen, and some private enterprises participate in this project. Within this project my role is to study the practices of the Dutch energy cooperatives, and evaluate these initiatives in terms of their actual and potential role in the transition towards a more sustainable energy system. As a result of the cooperation with Dr. Ten and Ecovat, smart grids and storage systems will be focused on in particular >>> read more.

Estimation of bioenergy potential in China | Bingquan Zhang

China has been the world’s largest energy consumer with oil and natural gas dependency rates of approximately 60% and 33%, respectively, since 2011 due to high rate of growth in GDP and rapid increase in population. Since 2007, as the world’s largest carbon emitter, the United States has been overtaken by China who expects to account for half of the increase in global CO2 emissions through 2035. In December 2009, China’s State Council announced that the carbon emissions of China will be decreased by 40-45% by 2020, compared with 2005 >>> read more.

Potential and improvement of LNG liquefaction facility and distribution infrastructure | Jinrui Zhang

With the population growing and economies developing, the power consumption has grown rapidly. To meet this growth, the consumption of gas is expected to grow to a quarter of global energy demand. The gas demand has a dynamic fluctuation in seasonal, while using at residential and commercial. It depends on temperature. To meet this fluctuation, the gas supplies should be flexible. Then there comes liquefied natural gas (LNG). Compare to pipeline, LNG is more flexible while transporting. It can transport in cryogenic tankers by roads, ships and rail ways >>> read more.

The potential and limitations of decarbonizing the Oil Industry | Edgar Yáñez Angarita

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the greenhouses-gas emissions (GHG) associated with energy production and use accounts for about two-thirds of the global emissions (IEA 2015) . This means a real challenge for deploying pledges on the energy sector that were made at the COP21. These pledges must bring deep emissions reductions while yet sustaining the growth of the world economy, offer a guarantee of energy security, and increase quality of life to the billions of people around the world who need it >>> read more.