Scaling Up Artificial Photosynthesis
Socio-Economical Challenges and Opportunities
An Interdisciplinary Workshop
Current technologies such as photovoltaic-electrolysis can be used for producing hydrogen through water splitting, but due to high implementation costs, it remains an open-question if scaling-up is possible to have an impact on global fossil fuel consumption. Artificial photosynthesis instead offers a design concept that minimizes the complexity of a solar-to-fuel plant, allowing scale-up to the terawatt level, as is being demonstrated by natural photosynthesis. Like a photovoltaic cell, a photosynthetic cell can be developed that enables the conversion of CO2 (or N2) to fuels (hydrocarbons, ammonia etc.) in one step through sun light. In this context, the promise of developing a photosynthesis “tile” has received attention from scientists, policy makers as well as society at large. Artificial photosynthesis promises to disrupt current energy infrastructures and respond to the global need for green energy.
In the context of the NAMEs project (Responsible Innovation Paths for Ultrathin Nanomembranes), we organize a series of interdisciplinary reflection workshops on the challenges and opportunities for artificial photosynthesis. The goal of the workshop is to understand the perspectives of various stakeholders on these challenges and opportunities and to compare and discuss them openly. Given the inter-disciplinary nature of the group, the workshop will focus not on current theoretical and technical bottlenecks but on the general prospects for this technology. Looking at the road ahead, we seek to obtain together a better understanding of the stakeholders involved in various technology development scenarios as well as the impact of societal, political, economic, and ethical factors.
We invite all stakeholders that have an interest in scaling up artificial photosynthesis and we encourage critical voices and alternative views. Groups include:
researchers in electrochemical conversions and materials
researchers in energy policy and governance
researchers in responsible research and innovation
policy makers for energy and fuels
policy makers for research
societal actors such as NGOs
citizens with an interest in AP
start-ups and scale-ups in AP
industry players (contributors or competitors)
Part One. Stakeholder analysis
Main question: What are the most important stakeholders relevant for the technology of artificial photosynthesis and what is their current impact on its development?
Activity: Participants work together to create a stakeholder map of individuals, groups and institutions that are relevant to understanding the broader societal context in which the technology is developed
Part Two. Scenario development
Main question: What lies ahead for the technology of artificial photosynthesis and what are the factors (decisions) influencing specific scenarios?
Activity: Participants work together to create three scenarios: (i) best-case scenario, (ii) worst-case scenario, (iii) most likely scenario.
Each workshop session lasts 1,5 hrs. The time includes a 10-min break in between the two sessions. It does not include optional networking time at the end.
1. Introduction 5-10 min
2. Stakeholder Analysis 30-40 min
Break 10 min
3. Scenario Development 30-40 min
4. Final discussion 10-15 min
The workshop will be held online via Microsoft Teams. You can participate via your browser or download Microsoft Teams for free here.
Privacy and data
The workshop discussions (parts 2-4 above) will be recorded audio and video. The data will be stored as text transcripts after full anonymization. Full anonymization implies that both the speakers’ identity and their background is fully and permanently deleted from the transcript. The data will only be employed for research purposes within the Ri-Paths project. The transcripts will be sent back to the participants for validation before use.
Dr. Georgios Katsoukis, Assistant Professor, Photocatalytic Synthesis Group (PCS), University of Twente
Dr. Eugen Popa, Postdoctoral Researcher, Science Technology and Policy Studies, University of Twente