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In the context of the Energy Transit Fund, the Federal Council of Ministers approved the BEST project in September. BEST brings together experts from five universities (UCLouvain, UGent, UMons, ULB and VUB) and aims to guarantee the security of supply of the Belgian energy system by means of renewable electrical fuels.
Electrical fuels are synthetic fuels produced from renewable energy sources. Solar or wind power can be used to produce hydrogen via electrolysis, which can then be combined with other elements or molecules to produce fuels such as methane, ethanol, methanol and ammonia.
Electrical fuels are an efficient way of storing solar and wind energy in the long term. Batteries can store solar and wind energy for up to a few days, but electrical fuels can be stored for longer and used to produce electricity or heat in boilers or gas turbines. If engines are adapted, they can also be used in the transport sector. Since electrical fuels are produced from renewable energy, they are “green” fuels.
The question now is: which of these fuels is the most advantageous? Professors Francesco Contino and Julien Blondeau of the VUB-ULB research group BURN (Combustion and Robust Optimisation, www.burn-research.be) will use the BEST project to study the production and potential consumption of these fuels in terms of cost and efficiency, as well as their potential contribution to the Belgian energy system.
With a total budget of €4 million, BEST is one of the two largest projects approved under the Energy Transition Fund.