The GoNano project is built on the assumption that nanotechnologies are more likely to gain broad acceptance if they take public values and concerns into account at early stages of innovation. To test this hypothesis, GoNano will organise co-creation processes in different areas of nanotechnological application (Food, Health, and Energy), combining online consultations, face-to-face citizen engagement and stakeholder workshops. See the general introduction to GoNano for further information about our overall approach.
The co-creation process in the energy area will be led by our Spanish partner, RMIT Europe (RMIT). RMIT will organise a series of citizen and stakeholder workshops in Spain to gauge public attitudes and feed these insights into ongoing research and innovation in the energy area.
Nano and energy
Nanotechnologies potentially have a major role to play in energy production, storage and increases in energy efficiency required to meet future energy targets. For example, nanotechnologies are expected to make solar panels more efficient and cheaper to produce. They also play a role in improving the performance of batteries, making them lighter, more efficient and longer lasting. As a recent example, the world’s first graphene paint was recently launched in the UK (see this article on graphene paint on dezeen.com). The graphene within the paint captures heat, thus enhancing the building insulation.
As more nano-enabled materials like these can be expected to reach the market in the near future, their impact on society will also become more apparent. This extends to ‘hard’ impacts like the effects of nanomaterials on humans and the environment, but also to ‘soft’ impacts like the ways these innovations may influence our social interactions. Prof Wim Sinke, photovoltaics expert at the Energy Research Centre in The Netherlands and member of the GoNano Advisory Panel, notes: “in the area of photvoltaics, cost and efficiency have long been the main drivers for innovation. Now that large-scale applications are coming into view, other considerations are starting to play a role as well: to what extent will people accept large-scale photovoltaic panels in their backyards?” The early consideration of public values and concerns in nanotechnologies thus might pay dividends.
The European Office of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology RMIT, will organise a series of citizen and stakeholder workshops in Spain to gauge public attitudes, and to feed these insights into ongoing research and innovation in the energy area. Two other GoNano partners, The Technology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences, and the University of Twente, will run parallel co-creation processes in the area of Food and Health, respectively.