This issue of Horizon looks at the research and technology that is helping Europe generate more energy while emitting less greenhouse gas.
During October, Horizon looks at wind turbines that can float far out to sea, and innovative materials to make solar panels that can generate more energy from the sun. We report from the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in the south of France, where world powers are collaborating on a nuclear fusion reactor which will operate at temperatures ten times hotter than the core of the sun.
Horizon also examines some of the innovative ideas that are helping Europeans save more energy in the home, and explores the world’s most sustainable office building.
This video gives an overview of what the EU is doing in the field of energy research and innovation.
These videos give you more information about specific areas of energy research:
Dr Suchitra Sebastian is looking for materials that are so conductive they do not lose any energy at all, and if she succeeds it would be a step towards reducing the amount of electricity required to power homes, factories and offices, helping producers of renewable power meet Europe’s burgeoning energy needs.
From wind turbines in Germany to solar panels in Spain, regions across the EU are using natural resources to become specialists in their own type of sustainable energy, bringing much-needed investment for businesses and citizens.
Ministers representing many of the world's main economic powers met on 6 September 2013 to show their support for one of the world’s most ambitious scientific experiments – a nuclear fusion reactor that will operate at temperatures ten times hotter than the core of the sun.
By 2050, the world's population will be an estimated 9.7bn people, up from today’s 7.7bn. To feed this growing population whilst also protecting the climate and biodiversity, our food system needs to change dramatically. In May, we look at what sort of future food system we want and how to get there. We speak to sustainability expert Prof. Peter Jackson about how lockdowns have exposed our reliance on fragile supply chains, and what needs to happen to shape a more sustainable food system. We look at the smart farming solutions that are being explored to support food producers, and urban experiments from tackling food waste to strengthening organic, local production to see how these efforts can be scaled up to make a big difference. And we investigate insects – a protein-rich food and feed source – and the efforts behind mainstreaming what is still a niche science.
With the world in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, in April Horizon takes a step back to look at some of the challenges around sudden outbreaks of emerging diseases. We speak to virologist Prof. Marion Koopmans about the likelihood of future outbreaks of new diseases, what causes them and how to spot them before they appear. We speak to scientists who are helping to develop tests for Covid-19 to understand the challenges in coming up with an accurate and detailed diagnostic test for an entirely new disease. We talk to people working on coronavirus treatments about how to shorten the normally lengthy process of drug development. And we look into why diseases suddenly jump from animals, such as bats, into humans and the particular challenges of spotting and responding to these types of outbreaks.
The iridescence of marble berries and the clever, light-bending perforations of microalgae are some lessons from nature that scientists are drawing upon to create biodegradable glitter and makeup pigments, and bionic algae to use in lasers or to clean pollutants.
Efforts to design a safe vaccine for Covid-19 are moving forward at full throttle, yet experts agree that it’s likely to be a year, at least, before an immunisation is ready. Meanwhile, scientists around Europe are exploring ingenious ways – including with the help of alpacas – to use the latest techniques in molecular manipulation to repair coronavirus-induced lung damage or to block the virus before it wreaks havoc.
Scientists are drawing on nature’s clever ways to build structures and produce iridescence.
Infection-halting therapies being explored include neutralising antibodies.
Metagenomics can help us spot emerging diseases such as coronavirus, says virologist Marion Koopmans.