Transportation as the nerve center of the sustainability transition

On Tuesday January 30th, a group of Grenoble INP – Phelma Nuclear Engineering students, including InnoEnergy’s MSc EMINE students, organized and animated a conference about the sustainability transition. The conference welcomed two guest speakers: James Arbib and Eirik Pettersen.

Throughout the conference, different aspects closely or remotely linked to the energy transition were discussed, but the general message is the following: transportation is a key component of the sustainability transition.

The MSc EMINE students (European Master’s in Nuclear Energy) explained the material challenges faced by the energy field. Going through PV solar, wind turbine, energy storage and nuclear, an interesting analysis of the energy landscape allows to highlight material issues: many useful resources are rare or gathered in very few locations, which influences production and costs. Regarding the quantity of necessary material to produce a megawatt, nuclear energy is the less consuming and thus could be the most reliable energy production. Given these facts and as transportation is one of the first energy-and-material- consuming sector, the question of future transportation is essential.

 

That’s why a few students introduced an inventory of existing technologies in electric transports focusing on planes, boats and cars. Electric cars are already quite performing so the current interest goes to autonomous cars that could revolutionize transportation.

Thus, James Arbib  (co-founder of RethinkX and founder of Tellus Mater), tried to forecast the apparition of a disruptive technology that will bring to an exponential change. Giving the example of TV and cars, he is pretty sure that transportation as a service (TaaS) will be a disruptive technology. A network of electric and autonomous cars could actually be accessible to anyone as a service (such as taking a cab nowadays) and would be a solution to make transportation sustainable.

Finally, Eirik Petterson, MSc EMINE graduate, founder and CSO of Seaborg Technologies introduced his start-up and his activity. He promotes nuclear as the future of energy since recent innovation in this field allows to reduce every controversial nuclear issues. He even talks about the second nuclear era, particularly born thanks to small modular reactors. This new way of comprehending nuclear is quite a success. Many initiatives in this direction are supported. This could raise a new interest for nuclear and allow to reach a sustainable transportation framework.

After discussion, Hanna Schlegel, one of the MSc EMINE students involved in this conference, shared her feedback:

“It was indeed a lovely conference and I think what we will most take away from it was that we have incredible people, that have done incredible things, in our network – people such as James and Eirik, that are happy to be involved with us, even though they are busy achieving great things!”

Interested to know more about MSc EMINE?