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Balzan M.V.,Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies | Balzan M.V.,Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology | Bocci G.,Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies | Moonen A.-C.,Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies
Journal of Insect Conservation | Year: 2014

Sown wildflower strips are increasingly being established in Europe for enhancing arthropod conservation and the provision of ecosystem services, including biotic pollination and natural pest control. Here we use floral traits to identify different plant functional effect groups. Floral resources were provided in four experimental levels characterised by a cumulatively increasing flower trait diversity and vegetation stand complexity. The first level consisted of a bare control strip, whilst in each subsequent level three wildflower species with different functional traits were added (Level 0: Control; Level 1: three Apiaceae species; Level 2: three Apiaceae and three Fabaceae species; Level 3: three Apiaceae, three Fabaceae species, and Centaurea jacea (Asteraceae), Fagopyrum esculentum (Polygonaceae), Sinapis alba (Brassicaceae)). Plots with sown wildflower strip mixtures were located adjacent to experimental plots of organically-managed tomato crop, which is attacked by multiple pests and partially relies on bees for fruit production, and hence dependent on the provision of pollination and pest control services. Results obtained here show that the inclusion of functionally diverse wildflower species was associated with an augmented availability of floral resources across time, and this increased the abundance of bees and anthocorids throughout the crop season. Several natural enemy groups, such as parasitoids, coccinelids and ground-dwelling predators, were not significantly enhanced by the inclusion of additional flower traits within the strips but the presence of flower resources was important to enhance their conservation in an arable cropping system. © 2014 Springer International Publishing Switzerland.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: SC5-10a-2014 | Award Amount: 3.13M | Year: 2015

Mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services (ES) are core to the EU Biodiversity (BD) Strategy. They are essential if we are to make informed decisions. Action 5 sets the requirement for an EU-wide knowledge base designed to be: a primary data source for developing Europes green infrastructure; resource to identify areas for ecosystem restoration; and, a baseline against which the goal of no net loss of BD and ES can be evaluated. In response to these requirements, ESMERALDA aims to deliver a flexible methodology to provide the building blocks for pan-European and regional assessments. The work will ensure the timely delivery to EU member states in relation to Action 5 of the BD Strategy, supporting the needs of assessments in relation to the requirements for planning, agriculture, climate, water and nature policy. This methodology will build on existing ES projects and databases (e.g. MAES, OpenNESS, OPERAs, national studies), the Millennium Assessment (MA) and TEEB. ESMERALDA will identify relevant stakeholders and take stock of their requirements at EU, national and regional levels. The objective of ESMERALDA is to share experience through an active process of dialogue and knowledge co-creation that will enable participants to achieve the Action 5 aims. The mapping approach proposed will integrate biophysical, social and economic assessment techniques. Flexibility will be achieved by the creation of a tiered methodology that will encompass both simple (Tier 1) and more complex (Tier 3) approaches. The work will exploit expert- and land cover-based methods, existing ES indicator data and more complex ES models. As a result the outcomes will be applicable in different contexts. The strength of the ESMERALDA consortium lies in its ability to make solutions for mapping and assessment problems available to stakeholders from the start of the project, because our expertise allows us to build on existing research projects and data sharing systems.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: H2020-TWINN-2015 | Award Amount: 960.12K | Year: 2016

FOWARIM (Fostering Water-Agriculture Research and Innovation in Malta) objective is to strengthen the research capacity of the Malta College of Arts, Science & Technology (MCAST)s Water Research and Training Centre in 4 crucial themes related to the field of water use in agriculture: (a) Decreasing Water Demand, (b) Making Use of Alternative Sources of Water (c) Renewable Desalinization, On-Farm Desalinization and Utilization of Saline Water and (d) Decreasing Negative Environmental Externalities Caused by Nutrient-Rich Farm Waters. This will be achieved by creating a favourable environment for capacity building targeting Maltese researchers, research institutions networking, research policy development. MCAST will be supported in addressing research deficiencies and networking gaps by EU partners of established scientific excellence in the targeted research topics. The proposal will develop over 3 years and is articulated into 5work packages, including one for management and coordination, involving: capacity building through several targeted and advanced training courses, short-term staff exchanges, summer schools and virtual training; research networking and knowledge sharing through providing technical assistance to establish new demonstration sites to promote innovations and best practices in agricultural water management, (iii) helping foster new collaborations through co-design of research questions, and (iv) developing a joint strategy for high impact research and dissemination; designing a research strategy and performing dissemination and outreach activities. This will lead to strengthening MCASTs research and S&T capacity in water use in agriculture, enhance the dynamism between the different partners, extending the partnership of research Institutions in the sector in question contribute, to an increase in peer-reviewed publications and complement in more ways than one Maltas Smart Specialization Strategy.


Azzopardi B.,Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology | Azzopardi B.,Oxford Brookes University | Gabriel-Buenaventura A.,Oxford Brookes University
Energy | Year: 2014

Well integrated distributed photovoltaics (PVs) will help tomorrow's energy system become more sustainable. This paper highlights the net demand planning feasibility assessment to understand these dynamics. These dynamics underpins the technical feasibility when setting up high penetration of PVs within a new development area. Real measurements of disaggregated domestic electricity demand from three low-carbon homes and simulated PV output are used. A case study is based on a new building development in North West Bicester Eco Town, Oxfordshire, consisting of 393 homes, community and commercial units. Using simulation models and real domestic load measurements, the results show potential for demand management and energy storage. With a sensitivity analysis, the paper discusses also related energy policy aspects such as options for PV orientation aspects, the use of Electric Vehicles (EVs), the potential of Direct Current electrical installations and schemes that encourage load shifting. The paper concludes, within the context of the case study, assumptions and scenarios that, contrary to what is commonly believed, high penetration of PVs in a development area is feasible and may even reduce grid infrastructure costs. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Azzopardi B.,Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology | Azzopardi B.,Oxford Brookes University
Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications | Year: 2016

Plastic-based photovoltaic (PV) technology, also known as organic photovoltaic (OPV), has the development promise to be one of the third PV generation technologies, practically where sunlight reaches a surface area both indoors and outdoors. This paper presents the economic forecast for solar electricity using OPV technology based on a 1 kWp domestic system. With reference to OPV roll-to-roll manufacturing, the paper discusses lifetime, efficiency, and costs factors of this emerging PV technology. Taking an outlook of historic PV technology developments and reflect future anticipated technology developments, the future levelised electricity cost is calculated using system life cycle costing techniques. Grid parity at levelised electricity cost below 25 c/kWh may already be reached within 10 years' time, and the technology would have been widespread, assuming a typical southern Europe average solar irradiance of 1700 kWh/m2/year. The influence of solar irradiance and the way the module performs over long periods of time expecting various degradation levels is studied using sensitivity analysis. Eventually, the financial attractiveness to mature silicon-based PV technology may decline suddenly as financial support schemes such as the popular Feed-in-Tariffs dry out. This would give rise to other promising solutions that have already been proven to be less energy intensive and cheaper to produce but may require a different integration model than present technologies. This paper demonstrates that under no financial support schemes emerging PV technologies such as OPV will manage to attract business and further developments. © Copyright 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Gabriel-Buenaventura A.,Oxford Brookes University | Azzopardi B.,Oxford Brookes University | Azzopardi B.,Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews | Year: 2015

Energy recovery systems (ERSs) for internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs) are reviewed in the context of fuel efficiency improvement and retrofit capabilities. The paper presents technical knowledge on the potential benefits that retrofitted ERSs may achieve in carbon emissions reduction. A first distinction of ERSs is made between the sources of the energy and further sub-divided on the technique to harvest and store the energy. A critical evaluation is performed on the associated characteristics such as weight, size and cost. Finally, the paper summarizes the ERSs technologies under a number of common criteria, and finds out, that the most effective ERSs in terms of fuel efficiency are the ones more difficult to retrofit. Further research is suggested to investigate the trade-off between fuel consumption reduction and investment cost of the system. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Bertasiene A.,Kaunas University of Technology | Azzopardi B.,Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology | Azzopardi B.,Oxford Brookes University
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews | Year: 2015

During the next decades, the market for Small-Scale Wind Turbines (SSWT) is expected to grow, due to a shift in micro-generation and current trends in distributed energy resources. Meanwhile in the last two decades, there were significant developments in control techniques for Large-Scale Wind Turbines (LSWT). Nonetheless, there exist synergies in Wind Turbine (WT) technologies from small to large scale. The reduction of WTs' operation and maintenance costs directly correlate to technical and economic matrices, which is crucial to the success of the wind energy industry. The aim of this paper is to compare WT control techniques from small to large scales levels, identifying common challenges and developments to achieve intelligent control algorithms at the small-to-medium scale levels. Therefore, the potential impact of increasing the competitiveness of wind energy in urban and suburban areas is explored and discussed through affordable and feasible levelised wind electricity costs. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: MSCA-NIGHT-2014 | Award Amount: 208.00K | Year: 2014

Science in the City (SitC) is a nationwide festival that marries science to art to showcase Maltese researchers and their work. We place researchers on centre stage at every single activity to show the public how researchers work positively affects society and our daily lives. It will help change current stereotype around scientists and promote gender balance. Each activity is created around the values that science is fun, interesting, inclusive and can provide an extremely rewarding career. The activities will fill Valletta, Maltas Capital City, with the wonders of science in a highly fascinating, innovative and interactive way. The University of Malta will lead a unique and efficient consortium of beneficiaries and partners to make ERN 2014 and 2015 two entertaining and memorable events. Through a comprehensive awareness campaign we will reach over 300,000 people to attract 20,000 (c. 5%) people in 2014 and 25,000 (c. 6%) people in 2015. As a UNESCO world heritage site, Valletta is a magnificent backdrop. Over 35 activities will run in the streets and buildings from City Gate to the heart of Valletta, Pjazza San Gorg and the Magisterial Palace of the Knights of Malta. From ancient gardens to restored squares, the public can easily visit all activities on foot. SitC will emphasise the relevance of science and research to everyday life, attuned to Maltese culture. Arts and cultural activities will be performed to communicate science. Researchers will be present in all activities. Over 80 researchers (~16% of total researchers in Malta) are involved in SitC. The schedule is highly dynamic having a general appeal. To encourage science career uptake, activities include hands on experiments, art installations, science activities, bird tracking and games aimed at very young kids. To attract youths we are running film festivals, stand-up comedy, science dances, science cafs and gaming areas. All activities appeal to the whole family to make ERN truly memorable.


Azzopardi B.,Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology
Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications | Year: 2015

Plastic-based photovoltaic (PV) technology, also known as organic photovoltaic (OPV), has the development promise to be one of the third PV generation technologies, practically where sunlight reaches a surface area both indoors and outdoors. This paper presents the economic forecast for solar electricity using OPV technology based on a 1kWp domestic system. With reference to OPV roll-to-roll manufacturing, the paper discusses lifetime, efficiency, and costs factors of this emerging PV technology. Taking an outlook of historic PV technology developments and reflect future anticipated technology developments, the future levelised electricity cost is calculated using system life cycle costing techniques. Grid parity at levelised electricity cost below 25c/kWh may already be reached within 10years' time, and the technology would have been widespread, assuming a typical southern Europe average solar irradiance of 1700kWh/m2/year. The influence of solar irradiance and the way the module performs over long periods of time expecting various degradation levels is studied using sensitivity analysis. Eventually, the financial attractiveness to mature silicon-based PV technology may decline suddenly as financial support schemes such as the popular Feed-in-Tariffs dry out. This would give rise to other promising solutions that have already been proven to be less energy intensive and cheaper to produce but may require a different integration model than present technologies. This paper demonstrates that under no financial support schemes emerging PV technologies such as OPV will manage to attract business and further developments. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: MSCA-NIGHT-2016 | Award Amount: 242.25K | Year: 2016

Science in the City is a national Festival that marries Science and the Arts to create a unique experience for the whole family. Our Researchers come together to help set up a night of education, entertainment and science-filled wonder in our capital city.

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