1) The Centre Levi Cases: Introduction and features
The consolidation of an Interdepartmental Centre involved in research on energy economics and technology at the University of Padua comes at a time when all the major universities in the international scene have started “Energy Initiative Centres”. These have characteristics similar to Centre Levi Cases’, as far as purposes, type of organization and activities are concerned.
Within the large and complex research sector about the sources and uses of energy, it is not enough working in different specific areas or at a prestigious scientific level. The solutions which will be able to satisfy the energy needs in the years to come can be achieved only if experts from different disciplines and laboratories supervisors of different sectors share gained knowledge through multiple contacts and interconnected actions, according to an interdisciplinary and problem-solving approach.
This does not mean to set up new laboratories, but rather to enforce collaborations and exchange of information between laboratories already successfully operating in specific areas.
A further essential feature of the Centre Levi Cases is its scientific independence guaranteed by belonging to a public University and by the collaboration and comparison with other major European research Centres with similar objectives, established through scientific networks.
2) The main objective of the Centre Levi Cases
Within the University of Padua the Research Groups dealing with energy issues and projects are 35 all over, and involve about 120 faculty members. The main objective of the Centre Levi Cases is to promote the cultural and scientific debate on the issues related to traditional, and especially renewable, energy sources, their transformation, distribution and use. The Centre’s main objective is also to promote and support economically interactions and collaborations among these research groups. Doing this is believed to lead to a decisive breakthrough in scientific and technological research on these issues, which could give a prestigious position to the University of Padua in the energy area. The Centre intends to stimulate a highly interdisciplinary research method, aggregating each time technical-scientific and economic-management competences around the research topics addressed.
3) The Centre Levi Cases as a landmark and attraction of researchers of international prestige
In line with what stated above, the potential of the Centre Levi Cases in terms of human capital is considerable: in addition to the faculty members, there are about 240 unstructured researcher (Research Fellows, Post Docs, PhD students) employed full-time on energy related projects. As well, the availability of the equipment necessary to conduct these initiatives are broad-spectrum, quantitatively and qualitatively significant.It should also be noted that the number of faculty members does not necessarily mean a high quality in the results. It is reasonable to assume that the Centre Levi Cases can build a reputation and international credibility only if it is able to focus on specific research objectives on which to converge efforts and resources.About that, a depth discussion has been carried out on the current activities of the research groups, to identify the strategic issues where concentrating the funds available, in order to possibly make Levi Cases a reference centre of excellence at the international level. We have two main objectives in this respect: on the one hand we would like to promote accreditation of researchers in charge of these activities within the international scientific energy community, on the other one our aims is to attract to Padua world-renowned researchers who will promote the quality and the visibility of the Centre.
4) The strengths of the Centre Levi Cases
The strengths expressed by professors of the University of Padua are mainly related to eight research areas:·
- Economic evaluation of environmental and energy resources
- Energy markets and regulation
- Energy scenarios and energy/environmental policies
- Energy storage systems
- Mobility and Biofuels
- Smart Grids
- Solar energy conversion
- Technologies for energy saving
5) The Centre Levi Cases as a reference for institutions and companies in the energy area
In parallel to the identification and development of themes and groups of excellence, it is essential to promote the creation of a system for the acquisition of funding coming from both the European Union, private companies and research institutions. The legacy currently available to the Centre, in fact, should be considered primarily as an endowment of “start”, which stimulates and obtains more resources to promote further research. It is thought unlikely that the Centre will become an international reference point on some issues, if it is not able to acquire external resources to focus and support the work of projects and groups of excellence.The Centre also aims to take on the one hand a function of technology transfer to companies supporting contacts with the business world, on the other hand to present itself as a privileged interlocutor to the local government (Veneto Region) and other institutions involved in formulation of energy policies.
6) The Centre Levi Cases as a disseminator of culture in the field of energy
We believe that there is an urgent need to increase social awareness of all the problems related to energy availability and use.A first project already started in connection with the HESI initiative (Higher Education Sustainability Initiative) of the University of Padua, is a course of 6 credits named “Energy and Sustainability in the XXI century”. The course is offered to all students of the University as additional elective course to be held in the first semester of each academic year, starting from October 2015.
7) The support of the media to the development of the Centre Levi Cases
The visibility of the Centre and its activities with respect to all stakeholders is essential to pursue a strategy for success. In this sense, in addition to activating and maintaining an updated website of the Centre, a rapid survey on international centres with similar purposes will be done in order to transpose ideas and suggestions.It is also essential to enable and maintain a strong presence on the local and national media, with both general and targeted initiatives, in order to light and support scientific-informative discussions on energy-related topics. In particular, the Centre will promote an initiative of great visibility on a regular basis (at least annually), which is able to bring together the interest of the national press, and possibly make it an appointment for the national scientific community engaged on energy research.