Science and Technology in Russian Federation

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"For Such a Diverse Country the Solutions Should Be As Diverse”

Aldo Bisky, the professor of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, the specialist in the field of mathematical modeling of energy systems, came to work in Russia after a successful career in his native Italy, Norway and the UK. The fact that he became interested in working in Russia is some experience in the field of generation and distribution of electricity, he is willing to share, the professor said in an interview to

Aldo_Bisky Aldo Bisky

Which Russian solutions to generation and distribution of electricity seem to you to be the most promising ones?

- First of all, I must stress that the universal solution, most likely, does not exist. We must look for the best balance, depending on the characteristics of each country, in the case with Russia - on the characteristics of certain regions.

For example, in the southern regions it is advisable to install solar panels, and in the north - wind turbines, not forgetting about the difficulties that arise in connection with permafrost. In Kamchatka, there is a possibility to use geothermal sources. So the solutions should be varied for such a diverse country.

One of my colleagues, he is from Germany, told how their country solves the problem of the transmission of electricity from renewable sources. The main industrial consumers of electricity are in the South, and the wind power plant is in the north. In Russia, energy transportation issues are relevant, but here, as a rule, we are talking about hydrocarbons.

When we talk about the transfer of power, it is always a challenge, including in terms of mathematics, because it is necessary to find a compromise between the cost of the project and its cost-effectiveness.

And many of my colleagues here at Skolkovo Tech, are working on various technologies to make predictions. Some of them machine learning algorithms for them, others work with stochastic optimization techniques.

This is a very important approach, because when we solve the optimization problem, we mean that the situation will remain unchanged, it is called deterministic approach. In practice, the conditions are constantly changing, and an evaluation of the probability of a particular scenario is needed.

If we talk about non-hydrocarbon energy sources, such as nuclear power, which ones seem to be the most practical today in Russia?

- I’m not a great expert in nuclear energy. In Italy, it was banned after the Chernobyl disaster. For other alternative I can say that in order to see how effective they are, you must take into account the full cycle of construction and installation, starting with mining for construction, for example, a generator running on biofuel, and to the disposal of its waste. I think that sometimes the expectations for renewable energy are too high, but then we are working to find optimal solutions and implement them.

For example, for some time I have worked with the idea of the so-called flow batteries. The peculiarity of such batteries is that, unlike conventional batteries reactions take place in two tanks with liquid electrolytes, located in each electrode. The cathode and anode are separated by a semipermeable membrane, and the ions from one compartment to another flow gradually. The capacity of the battery depends on the volume of the tanks, and the output - from the area of the membrane. Therefore, flow batteries can be used for storing very large amounts of energy, for example, in the production of energy or for providing residential district. But there is one more important advantage, that is, such batteries can be made of non-hazardous to the environment material. For example, recently Harvard University has patented a battery, which is made entirely of materials non-hazardous to the environment. Thus, chemists are actively involved in solving the energy challenges.

What are you working on now?

- I am a technology specialist. My area of expertise is a power generating device. I try to formulate the problem, look at it as a mathematical problem and then along with colleagues, mathematicians as well, look for the best solutions in terms of efficiency generators.

Now we are developing a model of optimization schemes for energy, taking into account Russian peculiarities.

In addition, I continue to work on options for energy storage from renewable sources. In particular, we create a simulation to calculate optimal solutions using geothermal energy in Kamchatka. In Italy, I accumulated some experience, because in Tuscany, where earthquakes occur frequently, there are also geothermal sources, and we want to develop this area in Russia.

In my opinion, these topics are versatile. Why did you choose Russia as a place of work?

- These topics are versatile, because they have not been resolved yet. For example, the energy storage issues will rise quite sharply in Russia, where renewable sources are spread to the territory. With regard to optimizing the use of resources is very important for Russia, because in the northern country heating is required for most of the year.

And I can share my experience on geothermal energy. Apparently, my colleagues are interested in Skolkovo Tech are interested in this topic, otherwise they would not have taken me.


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